possum outdoors

Possums can look intimidating, so it’s natural to wonder if they’re a danger to your dog. You’ll be happy to know that the possum is generally a timid creature that is not an immediate danger to your dog because it will try and avoid confrontation when it can.

However, when the possum has no other option, it will defend itself. A dog can sustain a bite or some scratches in a scuffle with a possum, and there are also other things to consider, like diseases that possums carry that may be passed onto your dog and you.

What Happens If a Possum Attacks Your Dog?

Possums will do one of two things when cornered: they will fight their way out, or they will play dead. A possum will go limp when playing dead, and a foul-smelling green mucus will secrete from its anal glands. This comatose state will last for around four hours.

While they are not a threat as long as your dog leaves them alone, it’s essential to know the potential risks from an interaction with a possum. If your dog is attacked by a possum, there are some simple steps you can follow below.

1. Get Your Dog Away

Move away from the possum immediately. Call your dog away or put him back on his leash if he was off it and gently lead him away. This means you can safely check your dog over away from the possum.

2. Check for Injuries

Check for signs of injury on your dog, like bites and scratches. If you find any, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

3. Contact a Vet

Your vet will clean the wounds and prescribe any necessary antibiotics if required. It’s also important to keep in mind if your dog is due any vaccinations.

When it comes to up-to-date vaccinations, the likelihood of your dog getting sick from a possum bite is lowered. This is also true if your dog comes into contact with possum urine or feces, so it’s crucial to keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date, especially if your dog has a habit of eating poop!

cute young dog in veterinarian hands
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

What Diseases Can a Possum Carry?

Possums will spit and hiss when they are cornered and trying to intimidate a dog, which people understandably mistake for a sign of rabies. Thanks to a low body temperature that sits around 94–97°F, a possum’s body is a hostile environment for the rabies virus to survive. However, there are some diseases possums have been known to carry.

Examples of these are as follows but are not limited to:

  • Chagas disease
  • Coccidiosis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Toxoplasmosis

There is also the risk of fleas, which can be passed onto your dog. Plus, some of these diseases can be passed on to humans. So, just be aware of this if you believe you have a possum living in your garden.

Final Thoughts

While possums are not a direct threat unless challenged, they can cause you and your dog problems. Issues such as disease, fleas, and their urine and feces in your garden are a hazard. You want your dog to be safe in his own garden, so it’s a good idea to ensure your dog is up to date on all his vaccinations.

If you think you have a problem, maybe with a dog that is territorial and will not take kindly to a possum peeing and pooping in his yard, then contacting pest control is an option. Thankfully though, the possum is a docile creature who will more than likely leave quickly if it runs into your dog.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay