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Raccoons do attack cats, dogs, and other pets, and so do a wide variety of other wild animals. This is not generally an attacking thing, but more of a defensive thing. Raccoons and dogs / cats are generally well matched in the size and height variety, although raccoons can get to slightly larger than most household cats. When the two come up against each other, they will fit bitterly, not quite to the death, but until one of them backs down. It will usually be the one is the most injured. This COULD be your household pet.
Why do raccoons attack?
There are a wide range of reasons as to why a passing raccoon and a pet could come to blows. Raccoons are scavengers, and quite cheeky creatures at that. If you’ve seen them being adorable on social media, do not be fooled by their cute exteriors. If your pet is eating its food on the back porch, a raccoon could quite easily come along and dip its fingers in, helping itself. This will not make your pet happy at all, and is generally over food that confrontation happens. The fight could occur when a raccoon has started living on your property. When the raccoon does out, the pets get annoyed. They can’t exactly tell you what the problem is, can they?
As a general rule, the raccoon will attack if it feels it has no other way of defending itself, or it thinks it has something worth defending. It is usually the first one. And with 40 teeth in its mouth, the raccoon probably isn’t an animal you will want poor old Rex the dog or Tinkers the cat to come in contact with.
What happens if my pet is bitten by a raccoon?
If your pet is bitten or scratched by a raccoon, we would definitely recommend taking them to the vet to get them checked over. Pets often have a lot of fur, and if you have a particularly furry animal, you may find it can be quite difficult to actually see the bite. You might not have a good idea of how bad it really is, and you don’t want to ignore something that could potentially need sutures or antibiotics. Infections are a very definite cause of concern when you or your pets are bitten or scratched by a wild animal, such as a raccoon.
What about rabies?
Although the bite or scratch itself can be quite a bad injury, it won’t be the primary cause of concern following a wild animal attack. As well as general infections, rabies is a virus that you definitely won’t want to come in contact with. This infection affects the central nervous system of the cat, and is usually passed on from wild animal to pet in the form of a bite, or a scratch. The latter can occur when the animal has licked its claws. The infection is present in the saliva, and if the scratch penetrates the skin, the saliva, and therefore the virus within it, can travel to the bloodstream of your pet. At that stage, your pet will have become infected with rabies.
How long it takes for the virus to take affect will change from animal to animal, and will also change in individual cases among humans too. For some animals it can take just one day before symptoms start to take hold, but in other animals the infection can lay dormant for many weeks, months, and in some cases even years.
Other animals that can come into conflict with household pets and potentially transmit the rabies virus include bats, skunks, and foxes.
Quarantine is important if you believe that your cat or dog (or other household pet) has been infected with the rabies virus. Even if the wound itself doesn't look that bad, the bite can still be signifiant for disease. If your cat or dog has not been vaccinated against rabies, you should definitely get this done as a matter or urgency, particularly if they go outside.
For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does raccoon removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of raccoons - my main raccoon removal info guide.
Example raccoon trapping photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Raccoon job blog - learn from great examples of raccoon jobs I've done.
raccoons in the attic