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Do Dogs Kill Squirrels?



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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Dogs, with their innate predator instincts and high energy levels, are often seen chasing after smaller animals like squirrels.

This behavior raises the question: do dogs actually kill squirrels?

In this discussion, we will explore the factors that influence a dog’s likelihood of catching and potentially harming a squirrel, as well as the potential risks associated with this behavior for both the dog and the squirrel.

Do Dogs Kill Squirrels?

Do Dogs Kill Squirrels

Yes, dogs can kill squirrels. While not all dogs go after squirrels, some breeds have a higher prey drive than others.

Dogs like Terriers and Beagles were specifically bred to hunt small animals like squirrels, so it should be no surprise that they may go after them.

However, just because a dog is bred to hunt doesn’t mean it will necessarily kill squirrels. Some dogs may simply chase them or catch them without harming them.

It’s also important to note that not all squirrels will be prey for dogs. Adult squirrels are typically too quick and agile for most dogs to catch, but young or injured squirrels may be more vulnerable.

It’s vital that dog owners train their pets to not chase or harm wildlife. Killing squirrels, as well as other animals, can be illegal depending on the area, and may result in fines or other consequences.

Additionally, it’s important to consider the impact a dog’s hunting habits can have on local ecosystems. Despite their instincts, it’s our responsibility to keep our furry companions in check and prevent them from harming wildlife.

Do Squirrels Carry Rabies?

While it is theoretically possible for a squirrel to become infected with rabies, the risk of transmission to humans is quite low.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are only a few documented cases of people contracting rabies from squirrels.

The CDC notes that while any mammal can potentially carry the virus, some animals are more likely to be infected than others.

In general, squirrels are considered to be low-risk carriers of rabies.

That said, it’s important to remember that squirrels, like any wild animals, should be treated with caution. If you come into contact with a squirrel and are concerned about the possibility of rabies, it’s best to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Signs of rabies in squirrels can include erratic behavior, disorientation, and aggression, among other symptoms.

It’s also worth noting that while squirrels are not a major source of rabies transmission, other animals such as raccoons, skunks, and bats are more commonly associated with the disease.

If you see an animal that you suspect might have rabies, it’s best to keep your distance and contact animal control for assistance.

Could My Dog Get Worms From Killing a Squirrel?

Yes. It is possible for a dog to get worms from killing a squirrel. Squirrels can carry various types of parasites, including roundworms and tapeworms, which can be transmitted to dogs through contact with the squirrel’s feces or by ingesting its flesh.

If your dog has killed a squirrel, it is important to watch for signs of any gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting or diarrhea as these could be symptoms of a parasitic infection.

Regular deworming should also be a part of your dog’s preventative healthcare routine. If your dog has a habit of hunting or killing small animals, it’s best to keep them on a leash and not allow them free roam to reduce the risk of transmission of any potential parasites.

Prevention is always better than cure, so make sure to consult with your veterinarian about a recommended deworming schedule and preventative measures for your dog.

Could a Squirrel Bite My Dog?

Yes, a squirrel could bite your dog. Although uncommon, squirrels can be aggressive towards dogs and may bite them if they feel threatened or cornered.

This is especially true during the mating season or when the squirrel is protecting its young. Squirrels have sharp teeth and can easily break through a dog’s skin, which can lead to infections and other complications.

Additionally, squirrels can carry diseases such as rabies, which can be transmitted to your dog through a bite. It’s important to keep your dog on a leash when in areas with a high squirrel population and to discourage your dog from chasing after them.

If your dog is bitten by a squirrel, it’s crucial to seek veterinary attention immediately. Your vet may need to clean the wound and prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. In some cases, your dog may also require a rabies vaccine or booster.

Remember that prevention is always the best course of action when it comes to protecting your furry friend from potential dangers.

Why Do Dogs Chase Squirrels?

Dogs are descended from wolves, which are predators that hunt animals for survival. Chasing is a crucial part of their hunting behavior, as they have to run after their prey.

When dogs spot squirrels, they instinctively want to chase them as if they were hunting them. Squirrels are fast, smart, and agile which makes them an ideal “prey” for dogs.

The chase instinct is further fueled by the fact that squirrels are incredibly skittish and will quickly move away from danger.

This response only triggers the dog’s wild nature even more. While domesticated dogs don’t need to hunt for their food like their wild counterparts, the natural instinct to chase prey still remains.

Chasing squirrels satisfies this inborn desire and provides a fun form of exercise for the dogs, which is essential for their physical and mental well-being.

Although it may be frustrating for dog owners to constantly rein in their pet’s chasing behavior, it’s better to let them satisfy their natural instincts in a controlled and safe manner.

Can Squirrels Hurt Dogs?

While it’s possible for squirrels to hurt dogs, it’s unlikely to occur unless the dog is aggressive toward the squirrel.

In fact, it’s more common for dogs to harm or even kill squirrels than the other way around.

Squirrels may scratch or bite a dog in self-defense if they feel threatened or cornered, but they are generally not aggressive toward dogs unless provoked.

However, it’s important to note that squirrels can carry diseases that could be harmful to dogs, such as rabies or Lyme disease.

Therefore, if your dog comes into contact with a squirrel, it’s important to keep an eye on them and watch for any unusual symptoms.

Why Do Dogs Hate Squirrels?

Dogs have a strong prey drive, which means they instinctively chase and hunt small animals like squirrels.

This drive is innate and has been bred into dogs for hundreds of years as they were originally domesticated to assist in hunting.

When a dog sees a squirrel, it triggers its natural instincts, and they become laser-focused on capturing its prey.

Dogs also have a territorial instinct, and squirrels can be seen as an intruder in their domain. They may feel protective of their yard or home and view squirrels as a threat to their territory.

Additionally, dogs are naturally competitive animals and may see squirrels as a challenge. Chasing and catching squirrels can be incredibly rewarding for dogs, as it provides them with mental and physical stimulation. These factors combined can lead to a deep-seated hatred of squirrels in dogs.

While some breeds may have stronger prey drives than others, it is not uncommon for most dogs to exhibit this behavior.

It is important to remember that while chasing squirrels is a natural urge for dogs, it is up to their owners to keep them safe and prevent them from causing harm to themselves or others.

Can I Stop My Dog From Chasing Squirrels?

Step 1: Reinforce Basic Obedience Training

Ensure that your dog has a strong foundation in basic obedience training, including commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” A well-trained dog will be more likely to respond to your commands, even when faced with distractions like squirrels.

Step 2: Use the “Leave It” Command

Teach your dog the “leave it” command, which instructs them to ignore or stay away from something. This command can be particularly useful in preventing your dog from chasing squirrels or other small animals.

Step 3: Increase Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Make sure your dog is getting enough physical exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and engaged. A dog that is tired and mentally satisfied will be less likely to chase after squirrels out of boredom or pent-up energy.

Step 4: Utilize Positive Reinforcement

Reward your dog with praise, treats, or playtime whenever they successfully ignore a squirrel or respond to your “leave it” command. Positive reinforcement helps to strengthen desirable behaviors and encourages your dog to make better choices in the future.

Step 5: Employ Distraction Techniques

When you see a squirrel and anticipate that your dog may give chase, try to redirect their attention with a toy, treat, or by engaging them in a different activity. Keeping your dog’s focus on you can prevent them from becoming fixated on the squirrel.

Step 6: Consider Using a Leash or Long Line

If your dog struggles with impulse control around squirrels, consider using a leash or long line during walks or outdoor activities. This will allow you to maintain control over your dog and prevent them from chasing after squirrels.

Step 7: Seek Professional Help if Needed

If your dog’s squirrel-chasing behavior is persistent and difficult to manage, consider seeking help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide personalized guidance and training techniques to help you and your dog overcome this issue.

Will My Dog Get Sick If He Catches a Squirrel?

It’s possible for a dog to get sick if they catch a squirrel. Squirrels can carry diseases such as rabies, Leptospirosis, and Lyme disease, among others.

A dog can contract these diseases by coming into contact with the squirrel’s blood, urine, or saliva.

Additionally, dogs can become sick from ingesting parts of the squirrel, such as bones or fur, that may be contaminated with harmful bacteria or parasites.

It’s important for dog owners to monitor their pets closely when they are outside and to discourage them from hunting or catching squirrels.

If you suspect that your dog has come into contact with a diseased squirrel, take them to the veterinarian immediately. Symptoms of illnesses like rabies or Leptospirosis can include lethargy, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.

Without treatment, these diseases can be fatal. In order to minimize the risk of your furry friend getting sick, it’s important to keep their vaccinations up to date and to avoid letting them roam unsupervised in areas where wildlife is present.

What Do I Do If My Dog Catches a Squirrel?

If your dog catches a squirrel, the first thing you should do is stay calm. It’s natural for dogs to hunt small animals, and squirrels are no exception.

However, squirrels can carry diseases such as rabies, so it’s important to act quickly to prevent any potential harm to your dog.

If your dog has already caught the squirrel, do not try to forcefully take it away from them as this could result in injury to both your dog and the squirrel.

Instead, try to distract your dog with a toy or treat and coax them to release the squirrel. Once your dog has let the squirrel go, make sure to check for any injuries on both animals.

If there are any wounds, take your dog to the vet immediately. Even if your dog is not injured, it’s important to monitor their behavior and health for the next few days to ensure they didn’t contract any diseases from the squirrel.

With proper training and supervision, you can help prevent your dog from chasing and catching squirrels in the future.


1. Can dogs chase squirrels?

Yes, many dogs enjoy chasing squirrels.

2. What should I do if my dog killed a squirrel?

If your dog killed a squirrel, it is important to leash them and remove them from the situation immediately.

3. How can I stop my dog from killing squirrels?

Working with a professional dog trainer can help you train your dog to stop chasing and killing squirrels.

4. Is it normal for dogs to chase squirrels?

Yes, it is natural for dogs to want to chase squirrels, but it is important to train them not to do so.

5. Can a happy dog training program helps stop my dog from killing squirrels?

Yes, a happy dog training program can help you control your dog’s behavior and prevent them from killing squirrels.

6. What should I do if my dog becomes aggressive towards squirrels?

If your dog is aggressive towards squirrels, it is important to seek the help of a professional dog trainer.

7. Is it okay for dogs to eat squirrels they have caught and killed?

Although dogs may eat squirrels they have caught and killed, it is not recommended as it can lead to health problems and the potential for disease transmission.

8. How can I stop my dog from chasing squirrels when we are on a walk?

It is important to keep your dog on a leash and maintain control. Training them to follow commands like “leave it” can also be helpful.

9. Why did my dog kill a squirrel?

Dogs may kill squirrels out of natural instinct or because they see them as prey. It is important to remember that dogs are part of the food chain and don’t always understand the consequences of their actions.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, while not all dogs will kill squirrels, their natural predatory instincts can sometimes lead to them chasing and potentially harming these small creatures.

As responsible pet owners, it’s crucial to be mindful of our dogs’ behaviors and take necessary precautions to prevent harm to wildlife, as well as protect our canine companions from potential injuries or health risks associated with their encounters with squirrels.

By doing so, we can promote a safer and more harmonious coexistence between our pets and the natural world around us.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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