What do I do when my dog gets bit by a rat?

Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

A dog bitten by a rat is susceptible to a wide range of diseases that are potentially life-threatening to both the pet and its owner. The dog requires immediate veterinary treatment.

It is also necessary to understand the type of symptoms that your dog may display, which could be signs of rodent communicable diseases such as leptospirosis, rabies and rat bite fever. Monitor your dog and incorporate preventive measures to ensure that it does not contract a fatal disease.

First Aid and Treatment

Provide first aid by cleaning and disinfecting the bitten area with an antiseptic. Dress the wound by bandaging it with an absorbent gauze pad and adhesive tape. You can also give your dog an antibiotic after consultation with your vet. Take your dog to the vet for an accurate diagnosis. The vet will perform laboratory tests to ascertain whether your dog has contracted any disease. The tests are necessary so that an appropriate course of treatment can be prescribed and complications can be avoided.

Understand Symptoms

The results of the diagnostic tests, coupled with a close monitoring of any symptoms displayed by the dog, will aid the treatment and cure. A dog that has contracted leptospirosis may display any of several symptoms, including severe thirst, increased urination frequency, high temperature, abdominal pain, depression, mouth ulcers, coated tongue, bloody stools, jaundice and persistent vomiting. Dogs experiencing rat bite fever do not display any symptoms, while a rabies-infected dog may manifest radical behavioural changes --- either extreme docility or ferociousness --- copiously salivate and suffer from paralysis.


Dogs that have not received immunisation shots against rodent communicable diseases should be isolated and kept under observation during and after the treatment period. Isolation and supervision are necessary for at least six months to prevent any fatal outcomes for both the dog and owner.


Ensure that you vaccinate your dog against rodent communicable diseases, as it is a key preventive aid. Use pest-control measures to destroy rats in your vicinity. When walking your dog, always keep it on a leash to prevent it from being bitten by a rat or wild animals, such as raccoons, that are carriers of rat diseases.