Are Raccoons Dangerous to Cats, Dogs, or Other Pets?

All wild animals have the potential to be dangerous to your household pets - cats and dogs included. Although your dog or cat might be bigger, fatter, or even more vicious than the wild animal they come up against, they are often the ones that come out of it worse, usually resulting in costly vet appointments and lengthy treatment plans.

Raccoons, just like most other wild animals, carry various diseases, a large number of which can be passed over to your pets. Some of these diseases, once they have entered your property, can even affect human life. Rabies, for example, can be carried and transmitted by the raccoon, to both pets and humans alike. All it takes is one bite or scratch. Once the infected saliva makes contact with the blood stream of the victim being attacked, the rabies virus has been passed on. Without immediate treatment the case will almost always be fatal.

The good news is, pets are taken care of better these days. The rules and regulations state that animals, such as cats and dogs, should be treated and vaccinated for various diseases, including rabies. If you have done your duty as a pet owner, your pets will have been vaccinated against rabies, therefore coming up against a rabies-infected raccoon is not going to pose too much of a problem for you or your pet. With the exception of a potential wound, of course, which may also require medical treatment.

If your pets are vaccinated, rabies is not going to be a problem for them, or for you, but there are still other concerns that you must bear in mind when you allow these wild animals and your pets to come in direct contact. A nasty wound may require stitches, a proper cleanup, and maybe even treatment for a possible infection. These are things that will require a veterinary appointment, and, if you’re a pet owner that’s already had an emergency case on their hands, you’ll already know how expensive that can all be, especially if you do not have pet insurance.

Leptospirosis is another disease that raccoons can carry, and this is usually transmitted in the waste matter of the animal, contaminating food and water. If a cat or dog were to consume water or food that had been contaminated with infected raccoon urine, for example, they could contract leptospirosis. In adult cats this might not cause much of a problem because it is generally considered that the average cat’s immune system is strong enough to fight it off. In fact, some experts have suggested that cats could be resistant to the bacteria that causes leptospirosis.

Although not generally a concern in adult cats, young kittens and cats who are ill, such as with an immune system problem or weakened defenses, leptospirosis can be fatal. It can also be a very dangerous disease for dogs to get, affecting the entire body - kidneys and liver, reproductive systems, central nervous system, and even the eyes

Of course, we can’t mention leptospirosis in raccoons, cats and dogs without mentioning that it is a zoonotic disease. This means that it doesn't just affect animals, it can infect humans and make them very ill also. This is, once again, the case with humans, both adults and youngsters alike, with a weakened immune system - they will be hardest hit in terms of both symptoms and the disease itself.

Salmonella, commonly mistaken for the common tummy bug, is another disease that comes hand in hand with raccoons, and a great number of other wild animals also. In cats, salmonella can be quite dangerous, particularly if it goes undiagnosed and treated. It can cause septicaemia, as well as severe dehydration, and without medical intervention the outcome could be death. The same applies to dogs, and other domesticated animals also, and because the disease is another zoonotic, just like leptospirosis, humans can also catch salmonella.

A rogue raccoon in your back yard might not seem like the worst thing in the world, but if that animal comes into contact with your cat, dog, or other animal, there could be serious repercussions. As well as the rabies concern, there are a number of other diseases, many of which can affect humans just as much as they can affect animals. The moment you start introducing your pets to these wild disease carriers is the moment you start inviting these dangerous diseases into your house, and a whole host of other problems too. The destruction these animals are known to cause is not just time-consuming to repair, but also very expensive in many cases.