Do Raccoons Attack Humans, Cats and Dogs?

Do raccoons attack humans, cats and dogs?

Some people think of raccoons as being cute little precocious animals. Others mistakenly think that maybe they’re even cuddly.

The truth is, they are wild animals, not domesticated. They don’t make good pets and like all animals in the wild, they should be left alone in the wild. Sure there may be cute videos on the internet of raccoons sweeping the floor, that doesn’t mean you should approach a raccoon.

For those of us without illusions of their cuteness, we may still wonder: Do raccoons attack humans? Will they attack my dog or cat?

Related: Raccoon Behavior FAQ – What Can Raccoons Do?

Do raccoons attack humans?

Generally, raccoons will not attack humans, but occasionally they will. Most often they will hiss, turn away and run from humans. That does not mean they won’t attack humans though. Raccoons have been known to attack people if they feel threatened, and most worryingly, if they are rabid.

Related: Rabid animals in Illinois warning

Raccoons should be treated like all wild animals: with extreme caution.

It’s not hard to find videos of people being attacked by raccoons on YouTube.

Why do raccoons attack?

A raccoon is most likely to attack you for two reasons: because it is cornered and feels threatened, or because it is aggressive from a disease.

You should never approach a wild raccoon and you should never make a raccoon feel like it is cornered.

Related: Signs a Raccoon is Rabid

While a raccoon normally won’t attack a person, they may hiss, grunt or charge at you if they feel threatened or cornered. In most cases, they will only be trying to scare you off so you’ll leave them alone. They will often back off from you on their own.

If you have been scratched or bitten by a raccoon you should immediately see a doctor. Aggressive raccoons are much more likely to have rabies.

Related: Suburban Raccoon Populations Are Growing and Getting Smarter

Aggressive RaccoonDo raccoons attack dogs?

Much like with humans, raccoons will not usually attack dogs, but they have been known to and they are a risk to your dog. Usually, a raccoon will simply flee from your dog and other large animals, but they have been known to attack dogs. They may attack a pet for the same reason they attack a human: because they are cornered or because they are rabid.

Unlike a human though, a raccoon can do a lot more serious physical damage to a dog. This is dangerous for dogs because sometimes they may pursue the raccoon and corner them, making a physical confrontation much more likely. A dog’s instincts may cause them to confront a raccoon. A raccoon can even kill a small dog and they can easily pass rabies to your dog.

If your dog has a confrontation with a raccoon, you should immediately take it to see a veterinarian.

Do raccoons attack cats?

A raccoon will usually not attack a cat, which is good because an adult raccoon could easily kill a cat if it wanted to. However, a raccoon is likely to leave your cat alone and a cat is very unlikely to provoke a confrontation with one. Unlike dogs, cats will usually stay away from raccoons and are unlikely to approach, corner or become aggressive with one.

A raccoon attacking a cat is possible though. Raccoons love to eat pet food and if a particularly stubborn cat doesn’t let a raccoon eat from its food bowl, a confrontation is possible.

Attacks are much more possible with a rabid raccoon. If your raccoon has an altercation with a raccoon, you should take it to see your veterinarian right away.

How to prevent raccoon attacks

  • Never corner a raccoon
  • Never approach baby raccoons
  • Secure your trash cans
  • Don’t leave dog and cat food outdoors
  • Clean vegetables off the ground in your garden
  • Use caution when letting pets into yard after dusk

Stay away from wild raccoons at all times and don’t make your property attractive to raccoons. An aggressive raccoon is likely to be rabid so always see immediate medical attention if you or your pets have come in contact with one.

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Growling raccoon photo by Alan Vernon licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.