Will a possum attack a dog?

Many people who live in rural areas can see possums in the wild, so they may wonder if these wild animals can attack their dogs. Because it is a very frequent question, this post will talk about how possums’ relation to other animals in nature just like they relate to dogs.

Will a possum attack a dog?

Possums are not predators, so when at risk possums tend to play dead or even try to run away. So, possums don’t tend to be aggressive towards dogs. When confronted, possums can attack as a form of self-defense or as defense of the offspring and their environment.

The dog out of curiosity can search, hunt and corner possums that may end up reacting to the dogs’ attack. If a possum is found, the animal should be left in the wild. And if a possum invades your home, the police can be contacted so that this animal is returned to the wild without causing damage to anyone.

My dog attacked a possum. What should I do?

If your dog has been attacked by a possum, the first thing that should be done is to keep the dog away from the wild animal. Because if the possum is still close to the dog, it can continue to hurt him. After moving the animals away, the dog’s wounds should be washed and the dog should be taken to a veterinarian for the proper treatment of his injuries.

Can a possum kill a dog?

The possum is a type of marsupial that lives in the Americas, it is a medium-sized animal and has arboreal habits. Generally, possum will run away from dogs and will only be aggressive if they feel threatened. Depending on the region of the prawn attack, it can end up seriously injuring the dog which can result in the animal’s death.

Untreated wounds can also become infected with opportunistic microorganisms causing unhealed wounds or even abscesses. Dogs in a serious condition can suffer sepsis and if not treated urgently, they can die.

If possum is aggressive towards dogs, this may indicate that something is wrong. Possums that attack dogs instead of running away or playing dead may be infected with the rabies virus, thus acting differently from their normal behavior. Other diseases such as coccidiosis and leptospirosis can affect dogs attacked by possum.

The rabies virus

The rabies virus can affect several animals, including possum, dogs, and humans. Rabies is a contagious and lethal disease. This virus acts on the nerve system of dogs leading to behavioral changes and neurological disorders.

Transmission occurs through contact with the saliva of a sick animal, mainly through the bite of animals. For transmission to occur, the attacked animal must carry the virus in its saliva. So not all possums will transmit the rabies virus to dogs.

In rural areas, bats that feed on blood are the main source of transmission of rabies by animals, mainly cows and horses.

The main symptoms presented by dogs are:

  • Behavior change;
  • Aggressiveness;
  • Salivation;
  • Prostration;
  • Lack of appetite;
  • Paralysis.

Many dogs tend to hide, run away from owners and even growl at people in the house. Excessive salivation can favor choking. Dogs can become very aggressive and try to bite everyone around them. In more serious cases, animals can prostrate themselves and even have paralysis.

Rabies has no cure for dogs and within 10 days of the onset of symptoms, dogs tend to die. Therefore, prevention through rabies vaccination is essential to maintain the animal’s quality of life and prevent the tutor from getting sick with this type of zoonoses.

Coccidiosis in dogs

Coccidiosis is a disease caused by a protozoan, and its transmission is of the orofecal type. It can affect many animals. These protozoa can damage cells in the intestine leading to bleeding and lack of food absorption by dogs.

The main symptoms presented by dogs are:

  • Bloody diarrhea;
  • Vomit;
  • Prostration
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss.

Due to intestinal lesions, animals may have blood in the feces, lack of appetite, and prostration. Weight loss happens due to the reduction of nutrients absorbed by animals and vomiting can happen in more serious stages of the disease.

Coccidiosis in dogs can be treated with medication. The veterinarian should be consulted as soon as possible to worsen the symptoms of the animals. Prevention can be done with periodic deworming and care for animals not to have contact with water, food, and even contaminated animals.

Leptospirosis in dogs

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by the bacterium Leptospira sp. It can affect many animals, mainly affecting rodents. This bacterium primarily affects the liver and kidneys, bringing typical aspects of the disease.

This disease is transmitted by the contact of dogs with urine contaminated with these bacteria. In the animal’s body, Leptospira travels through the bloodstream until it reaches target organs. It is in these organs that the bacteria settle and start to replicate.

The main symptoms presented by dogs are:

  • Vomiting;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Fever;
  • Dark urine;
  • Mouth ulcers;
  • Yellowish color in the mucous membranes of the eyes and mouth;
  • Prostration.

Due to liver and kidney injuries, animals may have yellowish mucous membranes and very dark urine. Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, fever and prostration can occur in the developing stage of the disease.

Leptospirosis in dogs can be treated with antibiotics. The veterinarian should be consulted as soon as possible to worsen the animals’ symptoms. Prevention can be done with dogs vaccination and care for animals not to have contact with water, food and even contaminated animals.


Possums are wild animals that can bring various diseases to domestic dogs. Therefore, contact between pets and wild animals should be avoided. Aggression should always be initiated by dogs that are predatory animals, when the opposite happens something can be wrong with the possum’s health. Any accident with a wild animal, the dog must be taken to the veterinarian to avoid injuries and even transmission of diseases to humans.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Will a possum attack a dog? 

What vaccines are required for dogs?

All core vaccines are required as parvovirus, distemper, canine adenovirus and rabies. Non-core vaccines (Leptospira sp. Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi) are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk.

Do dogs really need to be vaccinated?

Yes, Dogs should receive core vaccines (Parvovirus, Distemper, Canine adenovirus and Rabies) and may need others depending on their lifestyle.


What happens if my dog is not vaccinated?

If dogs aren’t vaccinated, they will be vulnerable to diseases such as rabies, canine distemper, canine adenovirus, canine parvovirus and others.


Day, M. J., Crawford, C., Marcondes, M., & Squires, R. A. (2020). Recommendations on vaccination for Latin American small animal practitioners: a report of the WSAVA Vaccination Guidelines Group. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 61(6), E1-E35.

Branco, P. S. M. C. (2005). Avaliação do parasitismo por Cryptosposridium Tyzzer 1907 (Apicomplexa: Cryptosporidea) em Rattus novergicus naturalmente infectados.

Bacchiega, T. S. (2014). Circulação do vírus rábico em gambás (Didelphis albiventris e Didelphis aurita) nos municípios de Torre de Pedra, Bofete e Anhembi-São Paulo.

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