Cats have a reputation for being mousers, but what about dogs? I’ve seen many cats who had absolutely no interest in mice. A few are even scared of them. The same seems to be true of dogs. Some dogs have a strong hunting instinct, and will catch or eat many things. Others are simply confused or even startled by vermin. 

Do dogs eat mice?

The short answer is, some do, sometimes. The long answer is much more complex and interesting. 

Dog’s Instincts

All dogs have some type of hunting instinct, also known as prey drive. However, it shows up in different ways for different breeds and different individual dogs. 

In the wild, there are two hunting phases. The appetitive phase, which we would see as the hunting phase, occurs first. The second is the consumption phase. Wild canines are driven by a need for food, which prompts them to hunt, and then eat the kill. 

Of course, domestic dogs have no need to hunt to eat. They are well fed. At first glance, you may think this would eliminate the need to hunt. However, the instinct never completely goes away, it just shows up differently in domestic canines. 

Chasing is a part of the hunt, and an instinct that is still quite strong in many dogs. In fact, owners spend a lot of time and effort training dogs not to chase things like cars. 

When you play tug of war or fetch with your dog, this is also related to their hunting instincts. They chase and retrieve the ball just as they would prey. They will shake a rope you are tugging on because that’s how they kill prey. 

Herding dogs are famous for herding everything, including their owners. This is a modified form of the chasing instinct. These dogs have been bred to chase, but not attack. The chase aspect is strengthened, while the attack aspect is minimized. 

Other dogs, particularly terriers and other small breeds, love to dig. This is because they have an instinct to dig for vermin, like mice and moles. 

Ratter Breeds

Some dogs are known as ratters. These dogs have been bred for hunting mice, rats, and other rodents. They have small bodies that allow them to get into burrows where rodents live. They also have high energy, which is necessary to chase and catch vermin.

I own what I was originally told was a chihuaua. As they grew, I realized that they were most likely a rat terrier. She doesn’t have a big interest in mice, but she loves to chase squirrels. 

Terriers are the biggest group of ratters. Essentially, every breed of terrier, from the Jack Russel to the Yorkie, are excellent vermin catchers.

Daschunds are also excellent small animal hunters. In fact, that’s why they are so long and short. It allows them to fit into burrow holes. 

The German Pinsher is a larger breed, but they are also great rat dogs. They tend not to discriminate, and will go after anything from mice to squirrels. 

Lastly, there’s the Schnauzer. Schnauzers, particularly miniature schnauzers, are excellent mouse and rat hunters. 

Catch and Release 

Some dogs are inclined to either chase, or catch and release their prey. For these dogs, it’s all about the act of catching. Once they’ve caught it, they lose interest. 

Catch and Eat

Other dogs prefer to catch and eat their prey. They will do this regardless of whether or not they are hungry. They simply have a stronger instinct to not only hunt, but to consume what they kill. 

Scavenging

All dogs are scavengers. In the wild, dogs don’t easily fit into one category. They are predators. They are omnivores, meaning they will eat meat and plants, although their diet is mainly meat. They will also eat what they scavenge, typically dead animals, or carrion. 

Domesticated dogs still have this instinct. They love to scavenge. Perhaps this is because, in the wild, scavenging requires much less calories than hunting, so it increased their odds of survival. 

Dogs are also inherently curious. They will not only smell, but taste, anything that catches their eye. In some cases, they will taste it and spit it out. More often, they swallow it, and even take another bite. 

Two Ways Dogs Eat Mice

Some dogs will catch and release mice, because they enjoy the hunt. This isn’t a major concern for owners, because the dog is unlikely to ingest anything harmful. This type of dog will sometimes kill their prey and then present it to their owner. 

Other dogs love to kill and eat mice. This can be disconcerting for their owner. For one, it seems gross to us. For two, we worry about what they are consuming along with the mouse. 

Still other dogs prefer to scavenge. These dogs will find dead mice and eat them, but won’t catch and kill them. They have a higher scavenging instinct than other dogs. This is the most concerning behavior for pet parents. 

Of course, some dogs do both. They may kill and eat mice, and eat mice they have scavenged. 

Can mice make dogs sick?

Yes, eating mice can make your dog sick. It’s best to avoid them eating mice whenever possible, because of the risks to their health. The two biggest concerns to your dog are parasites and poisons. 

Mouse Parasites

Parasites present in the mouse’s body can be ingested by your dog along with the mouse. This can cause parasite infestation.

Roundworms

Roundworms are the most common parasites dogs encounter, and they love to make a home in mice. If your dog has eaten a mouse with roundworms, the roundworms will then infest your dog. 

Roundworms are commonly found in puppies, and adult dogs can get them by ingesting them in other animals or feces. When the dog is first infested, there will be little to no signs. As the worms grow in size and number, they will steal nutrition from your dog, which can cause serious health issues if not treated. 

The easiest way to detect roundworms is to check your dog’s poop. The worms are long and white. Other signs of roundworms include diarrhea, vomiting, malnutrition, bloating, and weight loss. 

Tapeworms

An infestation of round worms is dangerous because they multiply quickly. A tapeworm is much larger, but there’s only one instead of many, which means it generally causes less harm. A tapeworm can grow to 8 inches in length. 

Like the roundworm, it feeds on the nutrition in your dog’s body. Pieces of the tapeworm will break off as it grows. These can be seen in your dog’s poop. They will look like pieces of white rice. Tapeworms aren’t as likely to cause symptoms, unless they grow very large. However, testing and treatment for tapeworms is essential to your dog’s health. 

Toxoplasma

Toxoplasma is another dangerous parasite found in mice and rats. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, nervous system disorders, pneumonia, and liver diseases. 

Mouse Poisoning

The thought of your dog eating a freshly killed mice isn’t appealing, but the danger goes up if they have scavenged and eaten a dead mouse. There’s a good chance that the mouse was poisoned, particularly if you live in a residential area. 

Long-active anticoagulants

Long-active anticoagulants, or LAAC, are a common type of poison used for rats and mice. This poison stops the blood from clotting, which causes internal bleeding. 

It’s designed not to kill the mouse instantly. Instead, it acts over a period of a few days. This keeps the other mice from determining that the poison is the culprit. It can take 5 days for your dog to show symptoms of LAAC poisoning, and by then it can be too late. The good news is most dogs are fine if they get treatment before serious symptoms occur. 

Signs of LAAC poisoning include pale gums, weakness, nose bleeds, lethargy, and blood in their stool. 

Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3)

This poison greatly increases calcium and phosphorous in the blood, which can result in kidney failure. The symptoms include increased thirst and urination, weakness, lethargy, and decreased appetite. This usually occurs within 24 hours after ingestion. 

Kidney failure can occur 2 to 4 days after ingestion. The symptoms of this poison can look like many other health issues, so pet parents often delay getting treatment. The treatment itself is complex and costly, and lasts for 2-4 weeks, because there is no antidote. 

What to do if my dog eats a mouse?

What to do if your dog ate a mouse will depend on the situation. In some cases, it’s best to seek immediate veterinary attention. In others, you can take a watch and wait approach. 

Dog Ate a Dead Mouse

If your dog ate a mouse that was already dead, you’ll need to call your vet. The concern is that the mouse may have been poisoned, which can also poison your dog. If you live in a residential area or have used rodenticide in your home, this is the best course of action. 

The vet may have you bring your pup in immediately. They may direct you to induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal, instead, depending on the circumstances. It’s important to remove the poison from the dog’s body as quickly as possible. 

Dog Caught and Ate a Mouse

If your dog caught and ate a mouse, it’s still a good idea to call your vet. They may suggest bringing your pooch in for a parasite test. You may be able to collect a stool sample at home, and send it to the vet or a lab for analysis. 

My Puppy Ate a Mouse

If your puppy ate a mouse, it’s always a good idea to make a trip to the vet. Puppies are more susceptible to both parasites and poison than adult dogs because of their smaller size and developing systems. 

Do dogs scare mice away?

Will your dog keep mice away? Can you use dogs, or cats for that matter, for rodent control? 

Mice are Scared of Dogs

Dogs can scare mice away. The issue is how far away they scare them. When a mouse encounters a dog, it will naturally hide. It’s aware that the dog is a predator. 

However, it’s not likely to leave the property. Instead, it will hide until the immediate danger has passed, and then go back to searching for food in your home. However, there are some ways to reduce mice with dogs. 

Dogs and Cats

Surprisingly, research has shown that when dogs and cats are present in a home, there are fewer mice. When there’s only a dog or cat, there’s the same amount of mice as homes with no pets. So, one way to keep mice away is to own a dog and a cat. 

Ratter Dogs

The exception to the above is ratter dogs. Not because the mice are more scared of them than other dogs, but because they can kill or chase away the mice. This isn’t likely to make your home mouse free, but it will certainly reduce their numbers. 

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.