When I lived in Florida, my dogs used to chase raccoons out of the backyard every single night. Thankfully, they never caught one – the raccoons were too fast and agile – but what should you do if your dog actually gets close enough to attack one?
Dogs and raccoons are in fact mortal enemies. They just don’t get along. Sure, there are probably some rare instances where someone has trained the two animals to coexist peaceably, but in general, they don’t mix.
Raccoons might look cute and playful, but in reality, they can be sadistic little buggers, especially if they think they can get the upper hand on another animal. So, while you may be concerned about your dog attacking a raccoon, you should be equally concerned that a raccoon might attack your dog – unless you have a pretty big dog.
If your dog attacks a raccoon, try to prevent the attack from escalating if possible. Use vocal commands to distract and deter them – I have prevented my dogs from attacking rattlesnakes and tarantulas by simply yelling “NO!” at them. If a fight ensues, do not get in the middle of it, and do not try to capture the raccoon. If your dog has bitten or been bitten by a raccoon, you need to get your dog a rabies booster shot within 5 days – the sooner the better.
Unless you have a small dog, chances are the raccoon will try to get away as fast as possible, and once it does, it’s long gone. However, if your dog incapacitates or kills the raccoon, you should call animal control. Not only will they safely remove the animal from your yard, they will also test it for rabies.
I’d like to reemphasize the importance of using your voice in a situation like this. Suppose you have a small dog, and the raccoon is winning the fight; obviously you don’t want to let the wild animal kill your dog, but you can’t grab the raccoon because it might bite or scratch you…
In this case, you should yell and scream at the raccoon to scare it away. If that isn’t working, look for a rock or a stick you can pick up to throw at it.
I found a video of a news story about a man whose dog was attacked by a raccoon. Hopefully it can give you a little more insight into what a scenario like this might actually look like.
Why You MUST Get Your Dog Vaccinated for Rabies
I’d like to take a moment to discuss the importance of having your dog vaccinated for rabies, because you might not realize just how serious this is.
If your dog has been vaccinated, and they are bitten by a rabid raccoon, then all they need is a rabies booster. As long as they get the booster within 5 days, they will be fine. However, if your dog has not been vaccinated, and they are bitten by a rabid raccoon, by law, they have to, and will be put down.
How Raccoons Fight Dogs
Believe it or not, raccoons use specific fighting tactics, which are quite gruesome. I don’t want to scare, but I think it’s important for you to know just how serious a fight between a raccoon and a dog can be.
First, the raccoon will try to scratch your dog’s eyes out. They are very fast and their claws are razor sharp. Next, if possible, the raccoon will flip your dog on its back and attempt to gut it. Obviously you don’t want either of these things to happen, and this would be the time to do anything possible to get the raccoon off your dog without putting yourself at risk.
How to Prevent Your Dog From Ever Attacking a Raccoon
The easiest way to prevent your dog from ever getting in a fight with a raccoon is to simply keep the raccoons away. Raccoons enter yards because they are looking for food. That’s all they’re after. Any food left outside, including garbage, will attract them to your yard.
Make sure you have very tight lids on your trash cans – you may even want to put bricks or rocks on the lids – and never leave pet food outside. Raccoons love dog food and cat food, and they will fight your pet over it if they think they can win.
You should also make some noise and shine a bright light in your yard before letting your dog out at night. Doing this should scare away any raccoons that may be lingering out there.
Dr. Maria Correa-Prisant. Rabies Fact Sheet. Retrieved from: https://www.ncagr.gov/vet/FactSheets/Rabies.htm