The Dangers of Raccoon Pee and Poop for your Dog
Raccoons and dogs rarely have face to face interactions, given the raccoon’s natural tendency to be nocturnal. However, raccoons present a serious danger to dogs due to what they leave behind. Here, the dangers of raccoon urine and poop/feces will be discussed.
Raccoon feces looks similar to dog feces, and dog owners who are unfamiliar with the sight can see a picture here. While raccoon feces can be anywhere, this animal is most likely to form a “raccoon latrine” when it inhabits a specific area (such as your garage or attic). Like cats, raccoons are discerning about their bathroom habits and will choose one area to both pee and poop, creating a large pile of excrement. If spotted, these latrines should be immediately cleaned, as they are host to a number of serious diseases that can affect your pet.
Diseases Spread by Raccoons
Raccoons are one of many animals that can transmit Leptospirosis through their urine, which is a bacterial infection causing flu-like symptoms. Additionally, dogs can pass Leptospirosis to humans who then come into contact with their dog’s urine. This disease is most commonly spread when dogs ingest urine from a raccoon latrine, or drink infected water, such as from a puddle or stagnant pond. Symptoms include muscle aches, fever, yellowing of the eyes, diarrhea, lethargy, and dark urine. Dogs that spend any amount of time outdoors should receive the Leptospirosis vaccine.
Raccoon feces is home to a number of bacteria, including Giardia. Like Leptospirosis, Giardia can be passed from raccoon to dog to human with disastrous results. Dogs can contract Giardia by consuming raccoon feces or by drinking infected water. Giardia symptoms in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and weight loss. Many dogs do not show symptoms, however, which is why annual fecal exams are important. Whenever your dog develops unexplained vomiting or diarrhea, a veterinarian should test for this infection.
Raccoon disease, also known as roundworm, occurs when dogs eat feces from raccoons that have been infected with the Baylisascaris procyonis parasite. Similarly, dogs that become infected with raccoon disease have the capability of passing it along to humans, as roundworm is a zoonotic disease. While raccoons are not adversely affected by roundworms, they do cause a number of problems in dogs since roundworm larva migrate to the brain and attack the central nervous system. Oftentimes, the early stages of roundworm are mistaken for rabies. Symptoms include loss of coordination and muscle control, difficulty swallowing, lethargy, circling, confusion, and seizures.
Canine Distemper Virus
In 2009, Toronto was plagued by a case of distemper that killed hundreds of raccoons and skunks. While distemper cannot be passed onto humans, it is extremely deadly to dogs, particularly puppies. Canine Distemper Virus is spread when dogs come into contact with infected food, water, urine, or feces. Keeping your dog’s vaccinations up to date is an important step in preventing this deadly disease.