You see them scampering through your yard in the morning, or trudging through your garden in the late hours of the night. They sneak around and steal your trash, and even scavenge around your homes. Foxes are painfully adorable, but they can also just be pretty big pains. If they're not stealing your food or terrorizing your neighborhood, they're increasing the risk of your dog experiencing some serious harm.
While it's common knowledge that you should never let your dog hang out with a wild animal, sometimes your dog can catch certain diseases just from being in the same areas as a fox. The most common conditions that foxes can spread to your dog include toxocariasis, mange, and infections from their bites.
Toxocariasis, otherwise known as roundworm, can spread to your dog if he ingests or comes too close to fox feces. Mange, a lower risk, comes from direct contact with foxes - because of this, it's important to keep an eye on your pup at all times and ensure he's not coming into direct contact with foxes. An even more valid reason for this is to stop any possibility of fox bites. If your dog is bitten by a fox, it's generally treatable, but he could be subject to infection or rabies.
If you want to know more about foxes, what they can spread to your dog, how to combat them, and which signs to look for if you think your dog has been exposed to a fox, read on!
Signs Your Dog May Have Contracted Something From a Fox
If your doggo is acting strangely and you've also seen fox activity in your area, don't always assume the two are mutually exclusive. It's likely that your pup, who probably spends a majority of his time outside, can contract something from the foxes that live outside, too.
For example, one of the most common conditions he can come down with contracted from a fox is toxocariasis. This is typically called roundworm and your dog can catch it from ingesting an infected fox's feces. The worms that are in the infected fox produce eggs which are then released in the feces of the infected animal, contaminating it and the soil it sits on.
The easiest way to tell if your dog has this is to take a closer look at his vomit or stool - do you see spaghetti-type worms in it? We know, it's gross, but it's vital for your dog's health to take note. He also may have signs like a dull hair coat, loss of appetite, weight loss, gagging, vomiting, stunted growth, anemia, abdominal obstruction, a distended abdomen, pneumonia, and weakness.
Your dog can also contract mange from foxes, though this risk is a bit lower as it does require direct contact with a fox (typically less likely if you're keeping an eye on your dog). However, it's still possible. If your dog is exhibiting symptoms like itching, scratching, rashes, scabs, lack of appetite, fever, and balding in certain areas, mange could be the culprit!
Another possibility is catching infections from fox bites. If you think your pup may have had direct contact with a fox, check him for scratches, bite marks, and bleeding areas. Your pup might be infected if he's feverish, the bitten area is red, pussy, itchy, or scabbing over. Make sure you take your dog to the dog-tor if you notice any of these symptoms!
Historic Causes of Dogs Catching Things from Foxes
As we've noted, dogs can catch all kinds of diseases and conditions from foxes. But how do they do that? We've laid out some historic reasons that dogs typically catch things from foxes. The biggest one is that dogs are, well, dogs are goofy. If foxes have feces laying around in their area, dogs are bound to investigate, sniff, and even eat it sometimes (so gross!). If the fox is infected with roundworm, you can bet your doggo is going to get it, too.
Another reason your dog might catch something from a fox is close contact. You probably watch your dog like a hawk, but it's nearly impossible to keep all eyes on him at all times. If your dog gets too close for comfort to a fox, rubs up against it, moves in to smell and meet it, it's likely he'll either contract mange or get a nasty fox bite! Infections are fairly common from fox bites and typically come from curious doggos getting too close for their own good.
The Science Behind Conditions Passed Between Foxes and Dogs
Let's break down some of the science behind the conditions your dog can contract from foxes. First, let's talk roundworm. Roundworm can be a painfully uncomfortable disease, but also a fatal one if left untreated. Elderly dogs or young puppies might need to be hospitalized if they contract roundworm.
The way roundworm works is that worms will be inside an infected animal and they will lay eggs/larvae that is spread through their feces. Any animal that comes too close to the infected feces will likely be infected with worms too, and the process will repeat.
Then, there is mange (also called Sarcoptes scabies). This is a highly contagious condition and if it isn't treated quickly and properly, can spread to your dog's entire body. Your dog, who typically has harmless mites that live on his body already, can become infected with fox mites by getting too close, and because of the nature of the mites, they can spread and cause your dog pain and discomfort.
Training Your Dog Through the Healing Process
You can't always train your dog to not explore or not eat things in front of him, but you can train him to listen to the best of his ability. To avoid your dog ingesting some gross fox feces, make sure you're always keeping an eye on him when he's outdoors, but also teach him to respond immediately to commands like "no," "leave it," and "stop."
These commands will come in handy if you're far enough away to not exactly see what he's trying to eat or explore. If he gets too close to something you're unsure of, yelling out these commands and knowing he'll obey can save his health!
If your dog does contract something from a fox, odds are, he's going to have to take medicine and heal from his condition. This requires he's comfortable taking pills. Teach your dog a throw-and-catch game, teach him to eat his pills out of your hand, or just to take them with his food.
He may also have to take some downtime, so make sure he has a comfy, quiet place to rest through recovery. It's probably best to keep him leashed during outside-time during this period so that he doesn't contract anything else while his immune system is already occupied.
By a Great Dane lover Hanna Marcus
Published: 02/21/2018, edited: 04/06/2020