Can Dogs Eat Groundhogs?

Photo by Alex Ranaldi on Flickr

Many of us, when we have a dog, know how difficult it is to protect it from eating things that are harmful and dangerous to its health.

Many times our dogs do not realize how dangerous a situation is and, by nature, they can attack animals and eat them, causing them a great health problem.

These habits have to be eliminated, especially because of the risk of making your dog sick and, in extreme cases, even killing them.

One of the most common cases is dog attacks on groundhogs.

Many people do not know the risk that our dogs can suffer from attacking one of these rollers, since they are not aware of how dangerous and harmful these animals are.

This is why in this article we want to answer the question, can dogs eat groundhogs? But first of all, what is a groundhog?

What is a groundhog?

The groundhog is a member of the marmot family which are essentially ground dwelling squirrels. 

This species is the famous “giant squirrel” that many people have complained about in America. 

You don’t have to confuse the names marmots and groundhogs because to all intents and purposes groundhogs are marmots. 

There are 14 marmot species in the United States, and a few, such as the groundhog and yellow-bellied marmot, are common around yards.

These pests share many characteristics, though there are plenty of differences between marmots and groundhogs as well. 

Where in the US do they live?

A lot of groundhogs are located in North America and the lower parts of Canada.

What kind of habitats do they like?

Groundhogs can live in mountainous regions as well as low level grasslands.

So for instance in Europe, marmots can be found in the alps or the Pyrenees.

In the US, groundhogs can be found in the Rockies as well as in grasslands. 

It is found in much of Canada and the United States (including Alaska), but absent in the tundra areas, the southern Rocky Mountains, deserts, and the marshy and subtropical areas of the Gulf of Mexico.

Groundhogs have multiplied remarkably since the arrival of the first European settlers in North America, as deforestation has contributed to the expansion of their typical habitat, that of the cool-temperate grassy plains. 

The species is found regularly even in certain inhabited areas of the US, where it is a very popular animal.

How big do adults get?

The typical length of the groundhogs is 40 to 65 centimeters in length plus 15 in the tail, weighing 2 to 4 kilograms.

In those areas where food is abundant and there are no habitual predators, you can find specimens up to 80 cm long and 14 kilos in weight. Life expectancy is 6 years in the wild and 10 in captivity.

What are they also known as?

Groundhogs have a lot of names like “Whistle-pig” or “Land beavers”, but the most known name for groundhogs is “Woodchuck”.

What diseases and parasites might groundhogs carry?

Groundhogs have a host of diseases that can be transmitted to dogs and people. Here are some of the diseases that groundhogs transmit:


Groundhogs are also carriers of tularemia, which is transmitted to them by insects.

Humans and pets can contract tularemia from an infected groundhog through contact with it or its fecal matter.

An ulcer appears on the skin where the bacteria entered the body. It is accompanied by swollen lymph nodes.

Over time, it can lead to coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

This can be dangerous and even lethal for dogs.

rabies disease

Groundhogs are known to carry the rabies virus. If your pet is bitten by one, it is important to seek veterinary attention immediately and receive treatment with the rabies vaccine.

Lyme and Powassan disease

Groundhogs are carriers of this disease thanks to the ticks that are transmitters of these diseases. It is important to be careful mainly for these diseases as they attack the human or animal body.

What are the symptoms of the most common diseases?

These are the symptoms of the most common diseases related to groundhogs

Tularemia symptoms

Most people and animals exposed to tularemia that develop the disease usually become ill within 3 to 5 days, but it can happen up to 21 days.

Some symptoms may be swollen and sore lymph nodes, fever, shaking chills, headache, tiredness

symptoms of rabies

Some dogs become skittish and restless, some become very sensitive to light and noise.

Sometimes dogs that are usually more reserved can suddenly become affectionate and more attentive. Another possible symptom is increased salivation that leads to swallowing difficulties.

Lyme symptoms

Some of the symptoms of Lyme disease are:

  • the first symptom is a skin rash known as erythema migrans that occurs where the tick bit the animal. This rash is solid
  • It occurs at or near the site of the tick bite.
  • It is a solid red “bull’s eye” rash that grows larger.
  • It appears within the first three days to a month after the tick bite.
  • It has a diameter of 2 to 6 inches.
  • Lasts 3-5 weeks.
  • When touched, it may or may not be hot.
  • Normally, it does not cause pain or itching.
  • Multiple rashes can appear.

Powassan symptoms

In most cases, this virus does not present any signs, but when you have symptoms you will have fever, vomiting, disorientation, headache, and loss of coordination.

Can a groundhog injure a dog?

Yes, groundhogs are territorial animals, these animals create their burrows with 2 entrances, the second is to flee from any situation or predator that manages to enter the burrow, but before fleeing, the groundhog will attack anyone who tries to enter.

Groundhogs can easily attack dogs with their claws as they can be sharp and dangerous. Another weapon that groundhogs use is their 4 incisors.

These teeth can grow up to 1.5 mm with great force and can make an animal bleed.

What do groundhog bite marks look like?

The bite of a groundhog can do a lot of damage since they have 4 incisor teeth with a maximum length of 1.5 mm.

This bite can reach the level of a deep wound, this means that the bite broke the skin creating deeper damage.

The marks that these bites can leave can become small if you are lucky and do not dig your incisors deep. But if you are unlucky, the mark can become so deep that the wound will bleed.

Why do dogs kill groundhogs?

We often wonder why dogs attack and kill groundhogs for no reason.

This is due to an instinct coming from their ancestors.

This instinct is called the “prey drive”, which is the action of catching any object that is in movement.

The prey drive is aroused by the movement of the object to be chased, the behavior of the dog consists of discovering the prey, chasing it, showing it jumping on it, grabbing it and dragging it until it is killed, and then carrying it and eating it in a safe.

Can I train my dog not to kill groundhogs?

The hunting instinct of dogs comes from their ancestors the wolves, this was a survival instinct. Today it is no longer necessary since dogs do not hunt their own food.

This prey drive is very difficult to remove in dogs, but there are too many ways to calm their anxieties. One of them is the most typical, the belts.

The more you get your dog used to being calm by your side, the less he will want to run.

Equally, this is very breed-dependent. But it is possible to train them to disappear that instinct.

What breeds of dogs are more likely to kill groundhogs?

Some breeds of dogs are more likely to attack other animals more instinctively, we will show you what breeds of dogs are more likely to kill groundhogs.

1. Pitbull terrier

The pit bull was created in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, and it arises from the cross between bulldogs and terriers.

The objective was to create a breed that would combine the bravery of terriers with the athleticism of bulldogs to make it compete in “bull-baiting”, an activity that consisted of locking a dog and a bull in a well to fight until death

2. Staffordshire bull terrier

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is an active dog with a lot of energy. It is also a dog of medium size, has short hair, and is very muscular.

Although it is a robust dog with great strength for its size, it is also an agile and active dog, so it is necessary to exercise daily.

4. Rottweiler

This breed is used as a guard or police dog.

According to Spanish legislation, this breed is potentially dangerous as they have a fearsome appearance due to their slender and strong body, in addition to their serious temperament and high leadership.

A rottweiler bite is better than a pit bull’s. However, their behavior is highly dependent on the treatment they have received.

How do I stop groundhogs from coming into my garden?

There are a lot of methods that you can follow, we want to show you some of the best to stop groundhogs from coming into your garden.

Using fences around gardens and other small areas can sometimes help reduce the damage done by groundhogs and act as a deterrent to them. However, they are excellent climbers, as they easily crawl over fences.

The underground portion should face out of the garden at a 90-degree angle to help discourage digging.

Catching groundhogs is often considered one of the best methods of getting rid of them.

Wire mesh traps can be placed near burrow entrances (within 5 to 10 feet) and baited with anything from apple slices to carrots.

They are usually also hidden with items such as grass.

When groundhogs are caught, they should be checked regularly in the morning and afternoon, and the animals moved elsewhere or humanely disposed of.

The use of poison gas (fumigation) is also commonly used to control groundhogs.

Instructions for use are on the label and must be followed carefully. Spraying is best done on cool, rainy days.

Closing Thoughts

Groundhogs pests are a big problem for many families in the United States since, apart from the damage caused to the lower infrastructure of the house, it can become a health problem for your dog.

Whether the groundhog attacks the dog or the dog kills the groundhog, the dog’s life is in danger due to the large number of diseases that groundhogs bring.

It is important that you follow the advice to care for and train your dog very well so that it does not attack these animals without reason.

And you also have to protect your home very well with the different methods to prevent groundhogs pests.

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!