A common concern among pet owners is that a wild animal like an opossum will attack their beloved dog. And since wildlife intruders are not uncommon on human properties, this is a somewhat valid concern. Do possums attack dogs?
Generally, we tend to gravely exaggerate the levels of aggressiveness in wild animals, simply assuming they’ll automatically lash out at anything that moves. Most won’t, but it’s good to do your research. This means familiarizing yourself with the wild animals you’re most likely to encounter around your property and the dangers they pose to your pets.
Opossums, also known as possums or the Virginia opossum, are quite common wildlife intruders typically attracted by the edibles on your property. They are docile creatures and are mainly unlikely to participate in a dog attack or any kind of attack towards you or other pets, so you don’t need to worry about that.
Like many small to medium-sized wild animals, opossums prefer to flee than fight since they know their chances aren’t that great to win. They will mostly keep to themselves and avoid confrontation whenever possible.
Are possums afraid of dogs?
Possums are pretty passive animals, so when it comes to facing a dog, they may have one of two reactions: fear or annoyance. Possums have a natural instinct to play dead whenever they feel threatened. This paralyzes the possum, making it immune to external stimuli.
Playing dead also lowers the possum’s heart rate, and they excrete a foul odor from their anus. The smell is similar to that of decaying flesh. These defense mechanisms act as deterrents to keep the possum safe. A dog won’t want anything to do with a dead animal or one who has such a foul odor.
Do possums attack dogs?
Yes, an opossum may attack your dog in rare instances, but only if it sees no other choice. Opossums and dogs have a problematic relationship, made so by the fact that dogs will naturally bark at anything that attracts their attention, and that includes opossums.
In turn, this can make the possum feel threatened, leading it to bite your dog in self-defense. Remember that a possum will never bite your pet (or you) randomly and for no reason.
What can you do?
If an opossum is lurking around your property, you will probably want to get rid of it as soon as possible. Wildlife removal companies like Complete Wildlife Removal Wyoming offer speedy and humane possum removal, as well as restoration of the property, in case of any damage caused by the wild animal in question. You can also call animal control if you need more immediate removal of unwanted pests like the possum.
As we’ve seen, opossums aren’t aggressive and shouldn’t be treated harshly. Ideally, try to humanely remove an opossum from your property, using a device such as a live trap or scaring them off. You can do this manually or by using an opossum deterrent.
Alternatively, you may attempt to remove the opossum yourself. Visit pestwildlife.com to learn how to scare possums away and let this become a concern of the past.
The removal method you choose will depend on how comfortable you are around wildlife and how easily you get scared. If you’re squeamish, you might not want to attempt removing or scaring off the opossum yourself.
Focus on prevention.
There are several things you can do to make your property less opossum-friendly.
Eliminate hiding spots
For instance, you might want to remove wood log piles and cut down tall grass to make the opossum more visible. When a wild animal knows there’s a high chance of detection, it’s less likely to bother you and your property.
Eliminate food sources
You may also want to invest in sealable trash cans, which are challenging to topple and reach, and in turn, discourage the wild animals from trying to obtain the food within.
Use extra lighting
Another way to keep possums out of your yard and away from your dog is by using extra lighting. Possums are nocturnal and only come out when it is dark outside. So, use exterior lights or floodlights in the darker areas of your yard. Focus the lighting in areas you want to deter them from visiting, like your compost pile or trash cans.
Lastly, here are some prevention steps for your pet. If you’re worried about your dog being bitten by wild animals, you could try training it to ignore distractions. While this is difficult, reducing your pet’s tendency to bark and chase after everything that moves helps keep it safe.
What if a possum bites your dog?
Even after following our tips and doing what you can do to deter possums, accidents and an opposum attack can still happen. So, what do you do when a possum bites your dog? After the opposum attack or whenever your dog is attacked and bitten by any other wild animal, you want to take them to the vet immediately so they can be examined and their wounds can be treated.
In most cases, the vet will clean up the possum bite and prescribe antibiotics for your dog to take. The chance of your dog contracting the rabies virus from the possum bite is minimal since a serious disease like rabies is actually pretty rare in possums.
However, opossums can carry other diseases, including coccidiosis, tuberculosis, spotted fever, toxoplasmosis, relapsing fever, tularemia, and Chagas disease, which is why the vet appointment is important.
After your dog has been treated, you might want to consider calling in a pest control company to remove the possum and prevent the same thing from happening again.
Are there any dog safe possum repellants?
If you call in a pest control company, they are likely to use chemical pest repellents around the home. Unfortunately, this isn’t the safest solution for your dog and can potentially be harmful.
Start by following our tips above to remove hiding spots, clean up food sources, and light up dark areas. Next, you can use leftover dog hair after brushing to scatter around the higher-risk areas of your property, like around the trash bins or compost pile. Possums will avoid areas like this because they will smell the dog’s hair and feel threatened by the possibility of domestic dogs around the property.
Another dog-friendly solution for a possum repellent is making a solution of two parts water, one part dish soap, and one part hot sauce. Place the solution in a spray bottle and thoroughly spray all your outdoor areas. Crushed garlic is another tip to consider.
Remember that opossums (and other wild animals) won’t attack unless they have no other choice. So by keeping your dogs away, you give them that choice and keep your pets safe from wildlife.