With dogs being such a commonly kept pet with many species of dog having a very high prey drive, we commonly see people asking various questions about their dog eating wild animals that they shouldn’t.
One thing that people have been asking about recently is what they should do if their dog ate a chipmunk.
It doesn’t matter if your dog found a dead chipmunk or chased down a live chipmunk and ate it, all wild foods contain some level of risk of disease and parasites.
Due to this, we understand why so many people reach out with various questions about what they should be doing if their dog has eaten a chipmunk.
Now, for the most part, the vast majority of dogs who do eat a chipmunk will be fine but if your dog is vomiting or having any other issues that suggest there may be a problem, you should take your dog to see a vet as soon as possible.
Even if your dog is not showing any immediate symptoms of having a problem after eating a chipmunk, it can still be a good idea to take it for a checkup with your local vet.
Why Does My Dog Chase Chipmunks?
Dogs chase chipmunks for the same reasons that they would chase any other small animal, it’s instinctual prey drive.
Prey drive is something that all dogs have to some degree or another and it’s what helps them to survive in the wild by allowing them to chase down and kill smaller animals for food.
While most dogs will never need to use their prey drive in the wild as they are well fed by their owners, the instinct is still there and often manifests itself in dogs chasing smaller animals like chipmunks.
For some dogs, this instinctual prey drive can be very strong while for others it may be barely noticeable.
If you have a dog with a strong prey drive, you may find that they are constantly trying to chase chipmunks (or other small animals) whenever they see them.
While this can be frustrating for owners, it’s important to remember that it’s just your dog’s natural instincts at play and there’s not really anything that you can do to stop it.
Why Do Dogs Eat Chipmunks?
As we mentioned before, all dogs have a natural prey drive that helps them to survive in the wild by allowing them to chase down and kill smaller animals for food.
Even well fed domesticated dogs who never go hungry still have this drive to eat things and add variety to their diet.
This is one of the reasons that your pet dog will beg you for your own food or snacks even if it has a full bowl of food available in the same room.
It’s just part of owning a dog and it will usually be a risk for most breeds of dog no matter their age as they like to eat random things.
Thankfully, in most cases, it is difficult for a dog to catch and eat a chipmunk due to being on a leash when out walking as well as the speed and agility of chipmunks.
This means that many of the chipmunks that dogs eat are already dead and may have an increased risk of having disease or parasites in the corpse of the chipmunk.
Can Dogs Get Sick From Chipmunks?
As we mentioned before, all wild foods come with some level of risk to your dog and this is especially true when it comes to eating small animals like chipmunks.
This is because chipmunks (and other small animals) can carry a variety of diseases and parasites that can be harmful to your dog if they are ingested.
Some of the more common diseases that chipmunks can carry include rabies, distemper, and salmonella.
Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system and is fatal to dogs if they are not treated immediately.
Distemper is a viral disease that affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems and can also be fatal if not treated immediately.
Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause an infection in your dog’s gastrointestinal system and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.
While these are some of the more common diseases that chipmunks can carry, there are many others that your dog could be at risk for if they eat a chipmunk and then you have to factor in the risk of parasites.
Chipmunks can have problems with both internal and external parasites with both being able to transfer over to your dog.
Internal parasites are worms or other organisms that live inside of your dog’s body and can cause a variety of health problems.
Some of the more common internal parasites that chipmunks can carry include:
Internal parasites can be difficult to detect but there may be signs of them in your dogs poop in some cases.
The majority of internal parasites can be treat easily with a standard anti-parasitic treatment available from most local pet stores.
In very bad cases, you may need a specialist treatment that will have to be prescribed by a veterinarian though.
External parasites are organisms that live on the surface of your dog’s skin and can cause problems such as irritation, itching, and skin infections.
Some of the more common external parasites that chipmunks can carry include:
External parasites are easy to see on your dog and usually very easy to treat.
Should I Let My Dog Chase Chipmunks?
This is a difficult question to answer as it really depends on the individual dog and owner.
Some dogs will only chase chipmunks out of curiosity and will not actually try to eat them even if they catch one.
Other dogs may be more persistent and will not give up until they catch and eat the chipmunk.
If your dog is the latter, then it is probably best to not let them off the leash in areas where there are chipmunks as they are more likely to get sick from eating one.
If you do let your dog chase and play with a chipmunk, make sure to wash their feet and body afterwards as there is a risk of parasites transferring from the chipmunk to your dog.
In general, it is probably best to err on the side of caution and not let your dog chase or play with chipmunks to avoid the risk of them getting sick.
What Should I Do If My Dog Eats A Chipmunk?
If you think that your dog has eaten a chipmunk, the first thing you should do is contact your veterinarian.
They will be able to assess the risk to your dog and may recommend some tests or treatment depending on the situation.
In some cases, your dog may just need to be monitored for a few days to make sure they do not develop any symptoms but in other cases, they may need to be treated for a specific disease.