My Dog Licked A Mouse

It was a normal morning walk with my dog Luna when the unexpected happened. As we were strolling down the sidewalk, Luna suddenly darted into the bushes. I called after her but she emerged a few seconds later with something small and furry in her mouth – a mouse! Before I could react, Luna gave the lifeless mouse a few licks. While I immediately pulled her away, I was left concerned about any potential health risks from this encounter.

What Happened

One day, while out on a walk, my dog Spotted my neighbor’s cat, Whiskers, playing with a mouse. Before I could stop him, Spot ran over, snatched up the mouse in his mouth, and gave it a few vigorous shakes. I yelled “Drop it!” but Spot seemed intent on his new toy. Whiskers danced around Spot, swiping at him to try and reclaim the mouse. Just as I grabbed Spot’s collar to pull him away, he gave the now lifeless mouse one last lick before finally dropping it from his mouth.

This all happened so fast, in my own front yard. I was walking Spot on leash like I do every morning. Spot is usually calm around other animals, but something about that mouse triggered his prey drive. He wouldn’t listen to any of my commands once he had it. I was so focused on getting him to release the mouse that I didn’t think about the health implications until later.

While Spot only had the mouse in his mouth briefly, and I don’t think he ingested any of it, I’m very concerned. Even though he just licked it, I worry he could have been exposed to germs or diseases from the mouse. Especially since Whiskers had been batting it around, potentially breaking the skin and exposing its insides.

Why Dogs Lick

Dogs lick things for a variety of reasons based on instinct and natural canine behaviors. According to, one reason dogs lick is to groom themselves and others. It is an instinctive behavior mother dogs use to clean their puppies. Puppies will also lick each other as they play and interact. Therefore, licking can be a natural grooming behavior for dogs.

Licking is also driven by curiosity and exploration, according to When dogs lick objects or people, they are gathering information about tastes, smells, and textures. Licking provides sensory information about their environment. It can be an investigative behavior especially for puppies exploring the world around them.

Finally, dogs may lick to obtain salt, minerals, or other nutrients, particularly if they have a nutritional deficiency. Their sense of taste and ability to gather information through licking allows them to seek out elements their body may need.

Health Risks

There are several potential health risks if a dog ingests a mouse, either alive or dead. Some of the main concerns include:

Parasites like tapeworms – Mice can carry tapeworms and ingesting even a small amount can lead to dogs contracting tapeworms. Tapeworm segments may be visible in the dog’s feces. Treatment involves deworming medication prescribed by a vet (1).

Diseases like salmonella – Rodents can transmit diseases like salmonella through their urine and feces. If a dog eats or licks a mouse, they are risking infection. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and lethargy (2).

Pesticides or insecticides on mouse fur – Mice that have been exposed to chemicals like rodenticides or insecticides can sicken a dog that ingests them. Symptoms depend on the toxin but may include excessive drooling, tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.




Preventing Repeat Occurrences

The most effective way to stop your dog from eating dead animals in the future is to train them to respond to the “leave it” command. This provides you with a clear cue to communicate that the behavior is unacceptable. According to sources, consistent use of the “leave it” command can help dogs resist the temptation to eat dead animals they encounter [1].

When training “leave it,” start at home with treats. Place a treat on the floor and when your dog moves towards it, firmly say “leave it.” Praise and reward with a different treat when they resist eating the original treat. Gradually increase the difficulty and practice outdoors with more distractions. Always reward with an alternative chew toy or treat when your dog successfully resists [2].

Providing distraction with chew toys can also help prevent repeat occurrences. When on walks, bring a favorite toy and encourage your dog to carry it in their mouth. The toy will make them less likely to pick up dead animals. Proper supervision is also key – keep your dog close on walks to intervene if they get near dead animals [3].

Safe Disposal

It is important to properly and safely dispose of the dead mouse to avoid potential health hazards. According to Earthkind, you should wear gloves when picking up the dead mouse as a safety precaution. Once you have the dead mouse, place it in a sealed plastic bag or other sealed container. The bag or container with the dead mouse can then be disposed of in an outdoor trash can (Earthkind). Victor Pest also recommends disinfecting the area around where you found the mouse before disposal (Victor Pest).

After picking up and disposing of the mouse, it is crucial to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. This helps prevent the spread of any bacteria or diseases the mouse may have been carrying. Properly disposing of the dead mouse and washing up afterwards minimizes health risks for you and your family.

Vet Visit

After the incident, it’s crucial to have your dog examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet will check for any potential health issues that may arise from your dog licking or ingesting a mouse.

Some concerns include:

  • Poisoning – Mice may have consumed poison bait. Your vet can check for toxins and provide treatment if needed.
  • Parasites – Mice can carry parasites like tapeworms and roundworms that can be transmitted to dogs. The vet will prescribe dewormers if parasites are found.
  • Infections – Mice can transmit bacterial, viral and fungal infections. Your vet will monitor your dog for signs of infection.
  • Puncture wounds – Bites from the mouse defending itself may cause puncture wounds that require cleaning.

When you see the vet, discuss parasite prevention for your dog. Dogs can contract parasites by consuming infected rodents. Your vet may recommend monthly heartworm and parasite prevention medication to protect your dog in the future.

Bring a stool sample to check for parasites. Prompt treatment is key to protecting your dog’s health.

Monitoring Dog’s Health

It’s important to watch for signs of illness in your dog over the next few weeks after the encounter with the mouse. According to the NYC Department of Health, dogs usually develop symptoms 1-2 weeks after exposure to diseases that can be carried by mice and other rodents.

Be on the lookout for concerning symptoms like fever, chills, loss of appetite, vomiting, muscle aches, and lethargy (NYC DOH). Contact your veterinarian right away if you notice any of these signs of illness in your dog. Early treatment can help manage any diseases contracted from the mouse encounter.

It’s recommended to monitor your dog closely over the next few weeks and document any symptoms that develop. Your veterinarian will want to know the timeline of symptoms to determine if illness could be related to potential rodent exposure. Don’t hesitate to call your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health after the incident.

Psychological Impact

Dogs act primarily on instinct whereas humans make judgements based on moral reasons. When a dog licks a dead animal like a mouse, it is simply acting on its natural instincts to explore with its mouth and nose.[1] As pack animals, dogs use smell and taste to gather information about their environment. However, for humans, there is often an instinctual disgust response when seeing a dog lick a dead animal. This reaction stems from our understanding of disease risks and moral objections against certain actions.[2]

While licking a dead mouse may seem instinctual and harmless to a dog, a human pet owner is likely to be alarmed and worried about risks like disease transmission. Overcoming this disgust response and not scolding the dog is important, since the dog was simply acting naturally and didn’t intend wrongdoing. With calm correction, pet owners can redirect their dog’s instincts while understanding the dog is not acting out of malice.


In summary, while concerning, a dog licking a mouse does not necessarily mean disaster. However, it is important to closely monitor your dog’s health and behavior afterwards. Look for symptoms like lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea which could indicate illness. Thoroughly clean the area your dog had contact with the mouse to prevent recontamination. Consider taking your dog to the vet as a precaution, especially if they are acting sick. Although alarming, try not to overreact, as most dogs suffer no ill effects from brief contact with mice. Nonetheless, take sensible steps to avoid repeats of the situation. With prudence and proper care, both you and your dog can move past this minor incident.

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