What To Do About Mice When You Have A Dog?

Having pet mice can be a fun and rewarding experience, but problems can arise when you already have a dog at home. Mice produce a strong scent that dogs are highly attuned to, and their small size and quick movements often trigger a dog’s prey drive. This can create stressful situations for both pets and owners as the dog relentlessly chases the mouse. While it may not be realistic to expect your dog to totally ignore a scurrying mouse, there are steps you can take to minimize negative interactions. This article provides an overview of the common issues that can occur with pet mice and dogs in the same home, and offers solutions to help you keep both pets safe and happy.

We will cover training techniques to teach your dog to control its impulse to chase, as well as ways to establish boundaries between the pets. You’ll also learn how to “mouse-proof” your home to prevent access and avoid confrontations. Since mice can potentially transmit diseases to dogs, we’ll discuss preventative healthcare and what to do if your dog manages to catch a mouse. With some preparation and diligent supervision, it is possible for mice and dogs to coexist peacefully.

Prevent Mice in the First Place

The best way to deal with a mouse problem when you have a dog is to prevent mice from entering your home in the first place. Here are some tips for keeping mice out:

Seal up any entry points where mice could get in. Look for gaps or holes along the foundation, around pipes, under doors, and in the attic or walls. Use steel wool, caulk, expandable foam, or other sealants to plug up holes. Be sure to also fix torn window screens.

Store food properly by keeping it in airtight containers made of glass, metal, or heavy plastic. Don’t leave pet food out overnight. Keep trash and compost bins tightly closed.

Eliminate clutter like stacks of paper, magazines, boxes, etc. which provide hiding spots for mice. Organize storage areas and declutter as much as possible.

Keep areas clean by vacuuming and mopping floors frequently, especially around pet food bowls. Sweep up crumbs and wipe up spills right away. Mice are attracted to leftover food particles.

Train Your Dog Not to Chase

One of the best ways to train your dog not to chase mice is through positive reinforcement. When you see your dog noticing a mouse but not chasing it, immediately reward them with praise and a high-value treat like chicken or cheese. This teaches them that not reacting is the behavior you want. You can also reward them when they break eye contact with the mouse and look back at you. According to experts, using rewards for calm behavior around mice is more effective than scolding them for chasing

It’s also important to provide alternatives to chasing mice, such as interactive toys that satisfy their prey drive. Food puzzle toys that make your dog “hunt” for kibble can be a great outlet when they get keyed up around rodents. Additionally, set aside 15-20 minutes a day for games like fetch or tug to burn off that energy. A tired dog is less likely to have the drive to chase mice.

Lastly, confine your dog when you can’t supervise them, especially in rooms mice frequent like the kitchen or basement. Use baby gates or crate training so they don’t have access to practice the unwanted chasing behaviors. According to the ASPCA, limiting access prevents rehearsal of the behavior and leads to long-term change.

For more tips check out this helpful guide from Wag Walking: [url]https://wagwalking.com/training/catch-mice-1[/url]

Protect Your Dog from Diseases

When mice interact with your dog, there is a risk of disease transmission. To protect your dog’s health, be sure to take the following precautions:

Vaccinate your dog against leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that can lead to kidney or liver failure in dogs. According to the NYC Department of Health, leptospirosis is spread through the urine of infected animals like mice and rats (https://www.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/zoo/lepto-owners.pdf). Vaccination provides important protection.

Use flea, tick and heartworm preventives as prescribed by your veterinarian. Parasites like fleas and ticks can transmit diseases after feeding on infected rodents. Keeping your dog on monthly preventives helps reduce this risk.

Monitor your dog closely for any signs of illness after interactions with mice, like lethargy, loss of appetite or jaundice. According to The Conversation, symptoms of leptospirosis usually occur within 5-14 days after exposure (https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-leptospirosis-and-how-can-it-harm-us-and-our-pets-120221). Seek prompt veterinary care if you notice anything abnormal.

Take steps to limit contact with mice and promptly clean up any urine or droppings to reduce disease exposure. Keeping your dog healthy is the best defense against illness.

Make Your Home Less Appealing to Mice

There are several effective yet pet-safe ways to make your home less hospitable to mice so they are discouraged from entering and staying:

Eliminate food sources. Mice are attracted to any crumbs, spills, uncovered trash, or pet food left out. Keep counters and floors spotless, take out trash frequently, and store any pet food in chew-proof containers. This removes a primary incentive for mice to enter your home.

Use repellents. Natural repellents like peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, and vinegar can be unpleasant or irritating for mice without harming pets. Apply these along baseboards, doorways, attic entries, and anywhere mice may enter. However, research effectiveness and ratio dilution first, as concentrated oils can harm pets if ingested (Source).

Employ humane traps. Live traps allow you to catch mice alive and release them outdoors, away from the home. Traps like the Havahart Small Live Animal Cage Trap are pet-safe and effective for trapping mice humanely. Check traps frequently and release mice within 24 hours.

Supervise Interactions

It’s important to watch your dog closely whenever they are around areas where mice may be present, such as the kitchen, pantry, garage, attic, basement, or anywhere you’ve seen signs of mice. If you see your dog intently watching, sniffing, pawing, or chasing something, they may have discovered a mouse.

Redirect your dog’s attention if they start chasing mice. Call them over to you, ask them to sit or lie down, and reward them with treats for obeying. You want to discourage the chasing behavior and reinforce ignoring mice instead. Chasing can lead to direct contact and potential injury or disease transmission.

Also be sure to separate your dog from any areas mice may be active at night when you can’t supervise. Close doors to pantries, kitchens, utility rooms, garages, attics, and basements so your dog doesn’t have access while you’re asleep. This prevents unwanted chasing, injuries, or consumption of mice, mouse nests, droppings, etc.

Clean Up After Interactions

Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting areas where mice and your dog have interacted is important to prevent the spread of diseases. According to the CDC, mouse droppings can contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella and viruses like Hantavirus, so proper disinfection is essential.

When cleaning up droppings, urine, blood, or anything else left behind after your dog interacts with a mouse, the CDC recommends:

  • Wearing gloves and spraying the area with a bleach solution or EPA-registered disinfectant. Let it sit for 5 minutes before wiping up.
  • Avoiding vacuum cleaning, as this can spread germs through the air. Wipe surfaces thoroughly before mopping.
  • Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water after cleaning.

You should also wash your dog’s bedding frequently if they sleep in areas where mice have been active. Bathing your dog with dog-safe shampoo can help remove allergens if they had direct contact with mice.

Be diligent about cleaning up after every interaction to protect your dog’s health and prevent vermin from lingering in your home. For more information, see the CDC’s guidelines on how to clean up after rodents.

Seek Veterinary Care if Needed

If your dog has any bite wounds or injuries after interacting with a mouse, it’s important to have your veterinarian examine them. Rodent bites can cause infections in dogs that need prompt treatment with antibiotics. According to the CDC, “Rats and mice are known to carry many diseases. These diseases can spread to people directly, through handling of rodents; contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva; and bites or scratches” (1).

If you suspect your dog may have been bitten by a mouse, seek prompt veterinary care. Your vet may recommend getting a rabies shot for your dog within 72 hours as a precaution. Though rare, rodents can transmit rabies to dogs. Getting the rabies vaccine quickly can help prevent the disease.

Be vigilant for any signs of illness in your dog after encounters with mice. Symptoms like lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever warrant a vet visit. Rodent-borne diseases like leptospirosis need fast treatment. According to a University of Sydney article, “Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal disease in dogs caused by the Leptospira interrogans bacteria. It is spread by infected rat urine” (2). Don’t delay in getting veterinary care if your dog seems ill after contact with mice.

Consider Ultrasonic Repellers

Ultrasonic repellers use high-frequency sound waves to deter mice and other pests.

Pros of ultrasonic repellers:

  • They are a non-toxic option.
  • When placed correctly, they can deter mice without harming pets.
  • They are low maintenance.

Cons of ultrasonic repellers:

  • They may not be effective if mice become accustomed to the sound.
  • Some dogs can hear the high frequencies and find them unpleasant.
  • They require electricity to operate.

Strategically place ultrasonic repellers along common mouse entry points and paths, avoiding areas where pets spend a lot of time. Mice dislike the high-pitched sounds but will become accustomed if the repellers are overused. Use them sparingly and in combination with other deterrents for best results. According to sources, ultrasonic repellers are unlikely to harm dogs, but they may find the sounds annoying. Supervise your pet’s reaction and relocate the devices if bothersome.

When to Call a Professional

Having mice once or twice is often a manageable situation on your own. But in certain cases, you should call in a professional pest control expert to handle the rodent issue:

– If you have a large infestation of mice, with signs of them throughout your home, an exterminator is best equipped to tackle the widespread problem across your entire property.

– If you cannot seem to get rid of the mice despite your best efforts, and they keep returning, it may be time to call a professional. Persistent mice likely have easy access in and out of your home that you cannot identify or properly seal.

– For a severe rat issue, always call an exterminator right away. Rats can be more dangerous than mice, and harder to eradicate. Their burrows and entry points into a home can be extremely challenging for a non-professional to properly address.

A professional pest control service has the knowledge, experience, and commercial-grade treatments to fully remove a mice or rat infestation. This provides the best chance of eliminating the rodents from your home once and for all.

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