Friday, March 12, 2010

Squirrels + Dogs = Not a Good Idea

“Dug” the talking dog in the Pixar loses all focus when it comes to “Squirrels!”  And so do my dogs, especially my Miniature Pinscher, Taco. Today I went out in the backyard—it’s Spring here in Houston—and saw Taco sunning himself. Then I realized he was guarding something. His prize?—the back half of a dead squirrel.

Yipes! I rushed into the house for a hunk of leftover rotisserie chicken and performed a bait-and-switch. I got Taco inside, picked up the dead squirrel, and realized that we were missing the head and forequarters. Not to mention the guts. The carcass was cleanly cut and fairly fresh, with red flesh and a white spot of bone. No shreds or tears. I think this squirrel got caught in the community association mowers’ blades or perhaps was a dropped by the big black vultures that take care of the roadkill around here in the Piney Woods.

I scoured the yard, letting Taco out twice. Each time, he led me to more squirrel bits—two piles of guts. It wasn’t a fun job. A little later, the barfing and pooping began. Because it’s Friday and because we’re traveling to my folks this weekend, I decided to take Taco to my Vet. I use VCA (it’s a complicated story for another post), which is a chain vet. My dog’s regular Vet had called in sick, so I had a different doctor.

You know the rest of the story—nothing you can’t throw money at. The first estimate was about $450, including a premium blood panel. The examining doctor was concerned about pancreatitis, but I vetoed that call. Taco has eaten all manner of things in the 10 years I’ve had him and has never had anything worse than a regular gastrointestinal upset. I brought him in to see if we needed to purge his gut, and to find out what prophylactic measures to take against Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection carried by squirrels and threatening to dogs. We settled on a less expensive blood-fecal-urine panel, along with a pain injection (my normally stoic dog was hunched and groaning and certainly not his bossy, nippy self) and then added an anti-nausea injection after he hurked up in the car before we could get out of the parking lot. I have the pain meds from a different visit, and so went home with antiobiotic (Metronidazole) and another drug to slow the loose stools. The bill was about $275 by the time we were done.

Taco is groggy from the pain meds and I’ve stashed him in a crate with comfy blankets. Hopefully, his system will settle down and we'll get a clean report on his bloodwork. We’ll take some Science Diet ID along with us before we put him back on regular food. I’ll touch base with his regular Vet, plus I’ve already talked to a Vet Tech friend just to make sure I wasn’t over-reacting. I suppose I could have played “wait-and-see” but I chose not to do that.

Squirrels are fine for chasing, but not good at all for dogs to snack on.

Top Photo:  "Dug" from the Pixar Movie, "Up"
Bottom:  Taco on the prowl for squirrels.


  1. Poor Taco and poor you! pro active is always better. It may end up costing some bucks but not near as much as waiting if it all goes bad.

  2. hahaha, OH NO!!!

    Unfortunately I have gone through the same scare before. We've both learned - I mean dogs were eating all that stuff way before they were pets, but going on a trip the next day - WOW!! I would have freaked too and prob folded for the more expensive test. YAY for actions! He will be good to go sooner than later!! Best call to make!

  3. I love this blog already! Your previous post about rescue volunteers hits the nail on the head. Sometimes I feel like such a failure because no matter how much I do, dogs are still dying, puppies are still suffering.

    And poor Taco! Do you vaccinate him for Lepto? I've heard many opinions on do-versus-don't but in the end I use what my trusted vet recommends (do - because I live on 10 acres in the country and haven't had an allergic reaction with any of my 3 dogs).

  4. Your blog came up while I was googling my book "Squirrels & Puppies". I did not know that squirrels could be so bad for a dog to eat. Then again, dogs are pack hunters, so, in the wild, their prey would be a lot bigger than a squirrel. If you really want to take your dogs back to their roots, you could could go deer hunting or set a goat lose in your yard and have your dogs hunt it down. That could be healthier. Dogs were never made to eat rodents.


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