Dogs & cats can be very territorial animals, and raccoons may disturb this sense of ownership. Whether your pet triggers the attack or the raccoon (both is usually unlikely), here's what you should do before, during, and after a fight happens to ensure the best health for your pet and your own health.
What To Do If Your Pet Fights a Raccoon
For sake of simplicity, in this example we will be using a "dog" vs. a raccoon, in which the raccoon is the aggressor.
You and your dog should already be vaccinated for viral diseases such as rabies. If you aren't, this should change as soon as possible. Raccoons are a "rabies vector species" meaning they're more likely to carry and transmit rabies than other animals. One bite or scratch could be all it takes to infect you, and death usually follows 1-2 hours after symptoms appear.
59,000 people die annually from rabies so if you've been bit or suspect ANY issue with you or your pet, get to the ER immediately and get post-vaccinated. Symptoms will take a few hours to appear, and once you realize you have rabies due to intense symptoms, the chance of survival drops drastically.
Stopping A Fight
Most of the time raccoons will run off at the sound of a human or a dog. It is only in rare situations where they'll fight your pet. In the event that your dog gets into a fight with a wildlife animal such as a raccoon, this is what you should do.
First, check yourself for any open wounds. Open wounds make it easier for diseases such as rabies to enter your system. Make sure they are covered- it is worth the minute it takes to do this because your health is so important. Once you've securely covered all wounds, make sure you have thick gloves, a thick jacket, jeans, etc. so that the raccoon can't scratch you or hurt you.
Remember, if the raccoon is in a fight, and your dog, it will NOT play around. It is there to FIGHT, and won't take your actions kindly. The point of wearing protective gear isn't to prevent scratches (which in itself aren't so bad), it's to prevent the transmission of dangerous diseases.
The best way to separate the fight after putting protective gear is by grabbing a shovel, rake, bat, etc. any long, sturdy object and separating the two animals. Focus on pushing the raccoon away instead of your dog. Work WITH your dog, not against it. You don't need to be too aggressive unless you want to be, and even then removing the raccoon is more important than hurting it.
Hopping In The Fight
NEVER grab your dog's hind legs and pull, or try to pull your dog out of the fight. Doing so will weaken your dog's ability to fight and make him more vulnerable. Also, your dog may sense an attack from behind because he is in "fight" mode.
If you have to pull the animals off of each other, focus on the raccoon. Pull the RACCOON away from the dog, rather than your dog away from the raccoon. Again, make sure you have protective clothing on so you can't get scratched or bit. Pull the raccoon out and throw it away and keep your dog back.
After the fight check yourself for any wounds. Even if you don't feel anything, it's possible you may have been scratched or bit. Do NOT touch your eyes, mouth, nose, ears, or any open wounds as that could put rabies inside of you. If you're in the clear, wash your clothes and yourself very thoroughly before touching any open wounds from before the fight, etc.
If you're in the clear, then you should quarantine your dog for 2 hours at least. This will de-activate the rabies virus in the air if the dog has it on the outside of its body. The dog should NOT make contact with any other people or animals in case there are rabies on him. After the quarantine, if he is still fine, wash him thoroughly and pay attention for strange signs.
If the dog has any cuts, wounds, etc. you should call the vet immediately. The same goes for you: even if you were just bit, you should get yourself to the ER as soon as possible, even if you're already been vaccinated.
Rabies is no joke and while it's very unlikely that you have it, once you realize you have it through symptoms, it's almost always too late. If the attack was random too (ie. the dog didn't run out and attack the raccoon) then you should also call the animal control center nearest to you.
The probability of a fight happening is very low, and even if your pet gets into a fight with a raccoon it's unlikely that the raccoon has rabies or that it was transmitted. Still you should always take the safe route and ensure you and your pet's safely by following this mini-guide as best as you can.
Keep yourself clean, and get immediately medical attention if you or your dog was bit.
We hope this read helped you out, and make sure to let us know what you think. Thanks a lot!
-Wildlife X Team International