My Dog Was Scratched by A Raccoon! Should I Worry?

Dogs can be playful and cuddly with their human besties, but they can also be territorial and enraged whenever other animal tries to threaten their sense of ownership. And if the noisy little raccoons don’t seem to leave them alone, they are likely to get into a fight sooner or later.  

What’s worrisome is that raccoons are known to attack dogs when they’re rabid. In fact, although homeowners are often agitated with pesky outdoor guests, they get along with pets pretty well and are often witnessed playing. Therefore, a dog being scratched by a raccoon is highly likely to be a medical emergency. And you need to follow certain medical rules and precautions post-exposure to keep you and your pooch as safe as possible.

In this post, we will discuss what to do when your dog gets scratched by a raccoon, how to know if it’s a scratch or a bite, and if a dog gets rabies from a raccoon scratch. We will dive deeper into understanding rabies and discuss whether or not the disease infects vaccinated dogs. We hope the information helps you tackle this adversity better. Let’s get started!

What Do I Do If My Dog Gets Scratched by A Raccoon?

During your pooch’s fight with a raccoon, they usually get scratches or bites on their body, some less severe than others. If an aggressive raccoon scratches your dog, you should provide them with first-aid and call your vet as soon as possible and also the animal control department to ensure that the raccoon has not invaded your home. 

Wear proper latex gloves and use diluted hydrogen peroxide or use an anti-microbial and anti-fungal spray to clean the scratch marks. After checking scratches and wounds on your dog, quickly contact a vet, even if your dog is up to date on a rabies shot. The post-exposure management in dogs with rabies is vaccination (before 96 hrs) followed by four months of quarantine or euthanization.

It would be best if you did not carelessly touch the scratches as they might contain the rabies virus from the raccoon. Use hand sanitizer and thoroughly clean your hand before touching your mouth and eyes. Rabies transmits through saliva; you should be extra careful while caring for your pooch post-exposure. Quarantine your dog in the basement and be diligent about their behavior and symptoms as the disease might unfortunately progress.  

Can a Dog Get Rabies from A Raccoon Scratch?

Rabies virus needs a point of entry, for instance, broken skin, and transfers via the infected animal’s saliva. So, an infected raccoon’s saliva on a dog’s wounds, be it a bite or a scratch, can cause rabies. That being said, the first step is to ensure that if the raccoon is rabid, contact the local authority for examination.

Rabies generally transfers through the bite of an infected animal after when the injury breaks through the skin. The scratch from the nail may very well be just as fatal as we will not know if the raccoon has been licking its paws or not. If the raccoon looks suspicious and rabid, there is a high probability that your dog is infected with the virus and should need medical attention immediately.

To sum it up, your dog can get rabies from a raccoon scratch, although the idea is a little far-fetched. But if the raccoon is rabid, bring your pup a booster dose for rabies. Your dog may not show any symptoms for a certain period, and it would be in your best interest to have it tested.

How Do I Know if It Was a Scratch or A Bite?

Scratches heal quickly and, most importantly, are much less likely to allow viruses into your dog’s system. Therefore, more often than not, pet parents hope that the injury is just a mere scratch and not a severe bite. Nevertheless, please remember that if the raccoon is rabid and the scratch is bleeding, it is always prudent to take your pooch for a medical examination. 

The first step to identifying if the wound on your pooch is from scratch or a bite is to check whether the injured area is bleeding or not. The raccoon might have bitten your dog if the injury is bleeding profusely. Check the injured area properly and look for the depth of the damage; you should be able to locate the bite marks or teeth indent.  

If the injured area only has abrasions and rashes or bruises, it might be just a scratch. Scratches tend to have a larger area of injury than a bite but are not as lethal and should heal quickly. Check to see if the injured area has any lacerations or cuts; when a raccoon scratches, it leaves a larger injured area than a bite.  

Can a Vaccinated Dog Get Rabies from A Raccoon Scratch or Bite?

If your pooch is vaccinated and up to date in its booster doses, it is doubtful that it will get infected with rabies. Vaccines work by inducing antibodies and offering immunity to pathogens, but the efficiency is not always 100%, especially if the vaccination is outdated or undocumented. So, it is imperative you follow proper medical and quarantine procedures as soon as your dog gets scratched or bit by a raccoon, despite their vaccination status. 

It can be difficult to tell if a raccoon has rabies, especially if the infection is new. While this disease progresses severely towards the end, it can be silent during the initial stages when the victim is still infectious and can transmit the virus to others. So, if your dog gets bit by a raccoon, please take your pooch to a vet; they will most likely prescribe first-aid and a booster shot.

Rabies is a fatal disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS) of the victim. Therefore, our recommendation is always to take the best precaution. Experts often recommend keeping the victim dog for 30 days in quarantine and away from other pets or people for 45 days, even after the booster dose.   


To sum up, while a raccoon scratch is not as likely to transfer the rabies virus as a bite, it is still prudent to be extra cautious and get in touch with a vet. Also, remember that in case you have exposed open wounds while handling a rabid pet, it is best to get vaccinated or a booster dose if you haven’t already. Rabies is a dangerous disease; one should never wait for signs and symptoms after your dog is scratched by a raccoon, as the death can occur as soon as two days after the symptoms appear.


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!