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Are Gophers Dangerous to Dogs or Are They Scared?

Gophers often viewed as nuisances due to their penchant for digging tunnels and creating unsightly dirt mounds in well-maintained yards and gardens.

But if you have a dog, the question of whether gophers are dangerous to them has probably crossed your mind.

Could they attack? Do they carry diseases? These are all important questions to consider, and we answer them all just below!

are gophers dangerous to dogs

Are Gophers Dangerous to Dogs?

To begin, let’s clear one thing up—gophers are generally more scared of dogs than a threat to them.

Their primary defense mechanism is to scurry away into their burrows at the first hint of danger, which often includes a dog bounding towards them.

So, in most scenarios, gophers pose no significant risk to dogs.

However, just like any wild animal, gophers can present a danger to dogs under certain circumstances.

When cornered or threatened, they might resort to biting to defend themselves. While a gopher’s bite might not inflict severe damage, it does carry the risk of transmitting diseases or causing infection.

Can Gophers Give Rabies to My Dog?

One disease that pet owners often worry about is rabies.

Rabies is a dangerous, usually fatal disease that affects the central nervous system. It’s commonly associated with animals like bats, raccoons, and skunks.

But what about gophers? Can they transmit rabies to dogs?

The answer is yes, gophers can potentially carry and transmit rabies, though the likelihood is extremely low.

It’s important to note that the rabies virus is most commonly found in specific types of animals, like the ones mentioned above, and it’s rare in small rodents like gophers.

However, it is still crucial to keep your dog’s rabies vaccination up-to-date to ensure their safety.

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Diseases Other Than Rabies That a Gopher Might Carry

In addition to the potential for rabies, gophers can also carry other diseases and parasites which could be potentially harmful to dogs.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Leptospirosis: This bacterial disease affects various animals and can be passed to dogs. It primarily affects the kidneys and liver, and symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  2. Tularemia: Also known as “rabbit fever,” tularemia is a bacterial infection that gophers can carry. Dogs may contract this disease if they consume an infected gopher. Symptoms can include high fever, swollen lymph nodes, and loss of appetite.
  3. Plague: While rare, gophers can also carry the bacteria responsible for plague. Dogs can become infected through the bite of a flea that has fed on an infected gopher.
  4. Parasites: Gophers can be hosts to various parasites such as fleas and ticks, which can be transferred to dogs and potentially transmit diseases such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

These risks highlight the importance of monitoring your dog’s outdoor activities and promptly consulting with your veterinarian if you notice any symptoms of illness after interaction with a gopher.

Still, we’re going to be honest here, the chances of a gopher actually transmitting any of these diseases to your dog, is extremely low.

My Dog Ate a Gopher? What Will Happen!?

Dogs are naturally curious and instinctively chase after smaller creatures, which can sometimes result in them catching and potentially eating a gopher.

So, if your dog has managed to catch a gopher, what are the possible outcomes?

Typically, if a dog ingests a gopher, it’s not a cause for immediate alarm. Most dogs will not suffer severe health issues from consuming a gopher. ✅

However, there are exceptions.

Gophers can carry parasites like fleas and ticks or diseases such as leptospirosis or tularemia, which can be transmitted to dogs if ingested.

If your dog does eat a gopher, watch for any signs of illness like loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea. If such symptoms appear, or if you’re simply uncertain, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian immediately.

Related: Are Voles Dangerous to Dogs?

Could a Gopher Bite My Dog? What Happens Next…

Yes, a gopher could potentially bite a dog, particularly if it feels cornered or threatened.

While gophers are more prone to run and hide in their burrows when faced with danger, like any wild animal, they can bite to defend themselves.

Although such instances are not common, it’s important to supervise your dog’s outdoor activities to prevent any potential harm.

If a gopher bites your dog, follow these steps:

  1. Safety First: Ensure that your dog is safe and away from the gopher to prevent further harm.
  2. Examine the Wound: If possible, examine the bite wound. Gopher bites are usually not severe, but they can potentially cause infection.
  3. Clean the Wound: Clean the wound with warm water and mild soap to help reduce the risk of infection.
  4. Contact Your Vet: Even if the wound appears minor, it’s important to contact your vet right away. They might recommend bringing your dog in for a check-up. Your dog may need a tetanus shot, rabies booster, or antibiotics to prevent infection.

Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your dog’s health. Even if the wound looks minor, consulting with your vet is an important step.

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Do Dogs Get Rid of Gophers in the Area?

Many people hope that the presence of their dog might deter gophers from their yard, or even that their dog might help get rid of a gopher problem.

So, do dogs actually scare away or eliminate gophers?

Dogs, with their keen senses and hunting instincts, can indeed help to deter gophers from your yard.

The activity of dogs in your yard can make gophers feel unsafe, discouraging them from settling down and causing damage.

However, while dogs can be somewhat effective in preventing a gopher infestation, they are unlikely to completely eliminate an existing problem.

How To Deal With a Gopher Infestation

If your yard is teeming with gophers, it’s clear you’re dealing with an infestation. While having a few gophers around might not be a significant problem, a large number can wreak havoc on your landscaping and pose a potential threat to your pets, as we discussed earlier.

If you’re wondering: YES Gopher poison is highly toxic to dogs so avoid using this at all costs. Extra info

Here are some steps you can take to manage a gopher infestation:

  1. Try Natural Repellents: Gophers dislike certain plants like gopher spurge, castor beans, and marigolds. Planting these around your yard could deter gophers. Alternatively, consider using castor oil granules or a solution of castor oil and water as a non-toxic repellent.
  2. Use Traps: Trapping is one of the most effective ways to get rid of gophers. Place traps near the entrance of active tunnels to capture gophers. Remember to wear gloves while handling traps to prevent your scent from deterring the gophers.
  3. Install Fencing: Install a gopher-proof fence around your garden. The fence should reach about a foot below the ground to prevent gophers from burrowing underneath it.
  4. Consider Professional Pest Control: If the infestation is extensive, it might be best to hire professional pest control services. They have the expertise and equipment to effectively remove gophers from your yard.
  5. Keep Your Pets in Mind: If you have dogs or other pets, consider their safety when choosing a method to get rid of gophers. Avoid using toxic baits or poisons, which can harm your pets if ingested.

Remember, each yard and gopher infestation is unique, so what works best for you might take some trial and error. It’s important to stay patient and persistent in your efforts.

Key Points Summarized

To sum it up:

Gophers are generally more scared of dogs than harmful to them. Though they can bite when threatened, gophers are not typically dangerous to dogs.

They can potentially carry rabies, but the risk is low. If a dog eats a gopher, monitor it closely for any signs of illness, as gophers can carry diseases and parasites.

Lastly, while dogs may deter gophers from settling in your yard, they are unlikely to solve an existing gopher problem entirely.

Other FAQs Not Covered

  • What should I do if my dog gets bitten by a gopher? Clean the wound and consult your vet immediately to avoid infection and to check whether rabies post-exposure treatment is necessary.
  • How can I prevent my dog from chasing or eating gophers? Supervise your dog when outdoors and consider professional pest control to manage gopher infestations.
  • Can gophers harm dogs through their burrows? Yes, dogs can injure themselves by trying to dig into gopher tunnels, leading to potential paw, leg, or snout injuries.

To conclude, gophers and dogs can certainly coexist without significant issues, provided we remain vigilant about our pets’ interactions with these little creatures. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and maintain good communication with your vet to ensure the wellbeing of your furry friend.


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.