My dog just attacked a large rodent-like creature, should I be worried?
October 9, 2009 10:23 PM   Subscribe

My dog just attacked a large rodent-like creature, should I be worried?

I was walking my dog (A soft-coated wheaten terrier) at night in Closter NJ, when he ran off to chase a large rodent-like creature. He bit it and attacked it, and the creature fought back, but no skin was broken that I could see, and there was no blood. Eventually the creature got away. My dog seems to be okay, and is all up to date on all his shots - he got a whole bunch about a month ago (including kennel cough and distemper). This event has left me a little shaken. Is there any possibility that my dog may be hurt without me realizing it or contracted a disease from the creature? Should I take him to see a vet?

Any advice will be appreciated.
posted by AZNsupermarket to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Rabies would be your main concern. If he's up to date on shots, don't worry unless you see something that looks infected.
posted by sanko at 10:36 PM on October 9, 2009

Response by poster: He definitely has his rabies shot.
posted by AZNsupermarket at 10:38 PM on October 9, 2009

You could call your vet in the morning. I've had a couple of animals who were killers and never had any issues. No vet has been concerned that, for instance, my dog can catch a bird on the wing or my cat is the antichrist as far as gophers are concerned (and this is on the few rare chances she's had outside off leash).

However, there are things you should worry about when your dog runs loose in the woods.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:41 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

You are upset that your terrier attacked a rat.

Terriers were DESIGNED to do that. It was probably the high point of your dog's life to date.

Your dog is fine.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:42 PM on October 9, 2009 [16 favorites]

How large is "large"? I wonder if your "large rodent" was a possum. Or possibly a coypu.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:54 PM on October 9, 2009

Raccoons, skunks, foxes, or groundhogs can carry rabies. If you can't identify the animal your dog tangled with then you should double check with your vet about whether your dog needs a rabies booster. You should also wash your hands after handling your dog.

You say your dog does not appear to be injured, but bites can be hidden by fur, and bite puncture wounds can get infected. Watch out for any swelling/redness/tenderness on your dog over the next few days.

Not trying to scare you, but this web page (even though what it is talking about is humans being exposed to rabid animals) has some good info. about what animals are susceptible to rabies in sections 4, 5, and 6.
posted by gudrun at 11:05 PM on October 9, 2009

Keep an eye on him but Bitter Old Punk is probably right. I know a Jack Russel that chases rats away often enough and he's fine.
posted by vrakatar at 11:16 PM on October 9, 2009

In what percentage of dog / rat-like creature encounters does rabies get transmitted? Very low I think, very rarely (with no statistics to hand.) Your dog will be fine, especially as there are no wounds. Dogs like doing dog stuff.
posted by anadem at 11:28 PM on October 9, 2009

Yeah, I'm thinking your dog is probably fine, but it would still be a good idea to at the least give a call to the vet.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:50 PM on October 9, 2009

I would not be inclined to ring my vet about this. Your dog is up to date on all his shots, and there is no injury. There's nothing your vet can advise you to do.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:29 AM on October 10, 2009

Any advice will be appreciated.

Give him a pat, tell him he's a good boy.
posted by The Monkey at 2:54 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Did the **shudder** large rodent-like creature show aggression first? If so, that is what you should report, because it might indicate a wild population with rabies. I believe that even so-called wild large rodent-like creatures (I may never sleep again) generally play least-in-sight, so aggression is a flag for disease.
posted by nax at 6:17 AM on October 10, 2009

Bitter is generally right. Terriers are made to do that, which is why we love them. HOWEVER there appears to be a surge in lepto right now in the North East and rats and rabbits are major carriers. I'm not at all alarmist about these things, but a number of dogs in our dog run have come down with it recently and it's fatal (in fairly grim ways) if not treated and transmissible to humans (I believe). So I would ask your vet specifically to test the dog for lepto. The dog has probably been vaccinated, so note that a positive test isn't really a positive. The vet has to look at the levels and make sure they are above the vaccinated baseline.

Terriers do this, it's not a big deal at all, but if you have a good vet, why not be safe.
posted by The Bellman at 6:44 AM on October 10, 2009

If you call the vet, the vet will tell you to come in just to have a look at him. The vet will look at his medical records, agree that his shots are up to date, tell you he's most likely fine and tell you to watch him. Then you will pay the vet the equivalent of your cable bill.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:51 AM on October 10, 2009

When my dogs attacked a 'possum in my back yard, they got covered in fleas. Their muzzles were crawling with little black demon bugs. Check your dog very carefully for parasites, and perhaps treat with Frontline or the equivalent.
posted by Seppaku at 10:40 AM on October 10, 2009

I agree that your probably have more to worry about bites getting infected and catching parasites than any kind of diseases, especially if your dog has his shots.
posted by elder18 at 3:30 PM on October 10, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the replies, I would probably pick a reassuring answer as my favorite, but I'm afraid I'll jinx my dog's health somehow. I'll take all the advice under serious consideration.
posted by AZNsupermarket at 5:36 PM on October 10, 2009

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