If you have opossums and dogs coming together in the back garden, you're going to want to stop the situation from happening … fast. Whether the dog is bigger or the opossum is bigger, there are fifty sharp teeth in that wild animal's mouth, and it's going to want to defend itself. It doesn't know that your dog just wants to play with it. It doesn't understand any of that at all. All it wants to do is get away, and it will do that with whatever force and with whatever means are necessary.
How do Opossums Protect Themselves Against Dogs?
If a dog runs over to an opossum to try and play or sniff to learn more, there's a pretty good chance that the opossum will already have scampered off. It won't stick around if it doesn't need to, after all, it doesn't actually know what the dog is or what it wants, but it knows that the dog is bigger and probably a predator.
If it can't run away, the next step in the opossum defence arsenal is to play dead. Simply lie down, give off an awful stench that is unpleasant to both people and other animals, and wait for the whole thing to blow over. With any luck, the dog will have a sniff, be repulsed, and move away, bored and looking for something else to focus its attention on. If and when that happens, the opossum will wake back up, check the coast is clear, and scamper off, never to make the same silly and almost life-ending mistake again.
If that doesn't work, the opossum will bite. In some cases, opossums will bypass the playing dead reaction entirely, for an aggressive and threatening one. Those 50 sharp teeth will be bared to show your dog that it means business, and it will take an aggressive stance, as well as getting its paws and claws ready.
Can an Opossum Kill a Dog?
Your dog might win the battle, particularly if its larger than the opossum is, but that doesn't mean the opossum won't put up a pretty impressive fight. During that fight, your dog may be inflicted with wounds that require medical intervention, such as slashes or bites, and if they get infected or are not treated/cleaned properly and in time (such as, not realising the dog has been injured until much later on in the day), infections can become a problem.
Smaller dogs and puppies are particularly at risk from opossum attacks in the back yard, especially after the sun goes down. The animal is primarily a nocturnal one, which means you should always bring your pets inside overnight if there are wild critters hanging around.
Of course, one thing that we have not mentioned yet is the threat of disease, and when it comes to opossums, there are many of them. Although you will not need to worry too much about rabies and opossums when you have a dog, there are others that can be passed along and, in some cases, even prove fatal. Opossums aren't rabies vectors because their body temperature is too low for the virus that causes rabies to survive, but you will rarely find just one wild animal on its own. These animals attract each other - rats and mice attract other predators, such as snakes and smaller scavengers, and then they, in turn, attract other, larger animals. Many of the animals that you'll encounter in the United States will have a rabies threat attached to them. If your pets are not vaccinated against the disease, it will become a very big danger for you.
You should not let your dogs and opossums (as well as other wild critters) come together, in any capacity. You certainly shouldn't allow your dogs (or other pets) as a form of wild critter removal or prevention. There is a real chance that your pet will come out of the situation worse, and not the offending invader.
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