Risky Raccoons: Rabies and Roundworms
Raccoons can be pretty adorable to see in the backyard, but it’s important we keep raccoons and our pets apart to keep everyone safe. For one thing, raccoons are big! Weighing in around 20lbs, they are much larger than a housecat, and as big as many small dogs. We definitely don’t want our pets to get in a tussle with a raccoon!
Raccoons can also carry rabies, so we need to make sure we prevent any possible bites. See Dr. Chuck’s page on Rabies and Pets here. Even if our pets are up to date on their vaccines, it’s not worth the risk of having them bit by a potentially rabid animal. Along with rabies, raccoons can also transmit canine distemper to our dogs. Most dogs have distemper vaccinations as part of their normal vaccine protocol, so transmission is uncommon, but you should still keep your dog away from raccoons, just to be safe!
Finally, raccoons can carry Baylisascaris procyonis, also called raccoon roundworms. This roundworm grows in the raccoon’s intestines, and sheds eggs into raccoon poop! A curious pet (or small child) that comes into contact with these eggs can then become infected, and the worms begin growing inside of them! Even more frightening, this particular worm can migrate out of the intestines and into other organs and body parts, called larva migrans, and cause very serious illness. We don’t want raccoons pooping in our yards! For more information, check out the CDC website on Baylisascaris.
Raccoons are fun to look at, and are an important part of our ecosystem, but raccoons and pets don’t mix. Make sure you keep your pets away from raccoons and raccoon poop, and keep everyone safe!