Nothing Important to Worry About. Tapeworms & Hanta Virus are Highly Unlikely

Question:

I recently caught my pedigree-challenged dog chasing and catching a field mouse. She dropped the mouse when I shouted, but I’m sure this is not an isolated incident. Can she get sick if she catches/kills/ingests a field mouse?

 

Dr. Nichol:

Dogs can be such animals, can’t they? You’d never catch a human hunting, killing and eating a defenseless creature. No sir, we’re all so peaceful. Now I feel better.

 

Your dog is quite unlikely to get any diseases by exercising her predatory instincts.  In fact, when she eats an entire mouse she’s getting a balanced diet all in one meal. That tidy little casserole on legs includes the intestines with partially digested vegetation inside, plus the bones, and hair of that hapless rodent. One stop shopping.

 

Risks? She could pick up tapeworms, a largely harmless parasite. If your girl falls victim to this embarrassment, you’ll notice the short white tapeworm segments on her stool or stuck to the fur around her rear end. The other dogs at school will find this most amusing. Treatment is a one-dose tablet called Droncit.

 

The other concern is Hanta virus-highly unlikely in an open field in central New Mexico. Your dog would need exposure to accumulated dust mixed with dried mouse urine and droppings in a confined area like a seldom-used shed. She’d have to inhale a pretty strong concentration of the virus to get sick.

 

My concern is more for that mouse. If you really love animals you’ll bring that ravaged rodent to your veterinarian for treatment. Or you could make your dog bring her. But can she be trusted?

 

 

UPDATE:

Last week I addressed the concerns of the owner of a north valley mouse-catching dog. Pamela Reynolds, the vector control specialist from the state Department of Health, responded with information on plague. Ms. Reynolds reminded me that pets can put their families at risk by carrying infected rodents or their fleas inside the home. While fleas are scarce this time of year, it’s especially important to consider plague during the warmer months.

 

My final bit of wit last week was to “bring that ravaged rodent to your veterinarian for treatment”. I was only joking. Handling such a creature would be a mistake because there would be a risk of exposure to a human disease. My thanks to the conscientious folks who look out for our well being. Hey, and have a wonderful holiday all you pets and pet lovers!