The Short Answer is:
Your dog will not be harmed by eating a bat. His stomach might be upset for a few days due to the strange combination of leathery skin, fur, and bones. If he realizes soon after eating it that it was a mistake, the bat might reappear as a pile of vomit.
The purpose of this article is to explain “My Dog Ate A Bat“.
The universe has been kind to me. In the evening when I take my dogs out for their last pee before bed I can often see bats swooping around. I live on the edge of a city and my house backs onto a field.
Their beauty fascinates me. They are considered an endangered species in the UK partly because of the way they look and partly because they are so different.
My dogs have never had the misfortune of eating a bat so I have never had to worry about them.
Others are less fortunate and their dogs have eaten bats.
Can a dog be harmed by eating a bat?
Various diseases are carried by bats like any other animal.
Rabies is one of the most frightening diseases.
Let me share some basic facts about bats before I fill you with doom and gloom.
Bats- some basic facts
The bat is the only mammal capable of “true” flight.
More than 1400 species of bats exist but only 30 are found in the United States.
Of which the big brown bat is the most common.
The smallest bat in the world Kittis hog-nosed bat is approximately 30 mm long has a wingspan of 150 mm and weighs only 2.6 grams.
A flying fox can weigh up to 1.6 kg and have a wingspan of 1.7 meters making it the largest bat in the world.
The majority of bat species eat insects while other species eat fruit.
The bats that live in the US or UK only eat insects.
A bats potential to carry disease is similar to that of other animals.
The one that is most insidious as far as our dogs are concerned or as far as ourselves are concerned is rabies.
We’ll talk more about that later.
My dog ate a bat- what should I do?
Your dog will not be harmed by eating a bat.
His stomach might be upset for a few days due to the strange combination of leathery skin fur and bones.
If he realizes soon after eating it that it was a mistake the bat might reappear as a pile of vomit.
Nevertheless some dogs prefer to stray from the beaten path with their menu choices so thats just an occupational hazard!
Bats can carry diseases including rabies which is the most feared.
However there are many others.
Your dog can get sick from eating any animal including earthworms that carries a disease.
Although rabies is a cruel wicked and more often than not fatal canine disease a little context is necessary.
A quick introduction to rabies
No statistics exist on the number of bats infected with rabies in the United States or the United Kingdom.
Fortunately the UK is rabies-free and there are very few rabies cases in the US mostly caused by bat bites; however raccoons skunks and foxes are also carriers.
Worldwide it is unknown how many dogs are infected with rabies each year.
As far as I know there are none in the UK and I cannot find any in the US.
Despite the fact that I am aware in the US your cat is more likely to catch it than your dog!
The irony is that most of the tens of thousands of people who contract rabies are infected by dogs.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) only 6% of the bats that were tested had rabies.
It is likely that the figure is much lower in a healthy population of bats since these bats were easy to catch and were weak and sick.
Bats can transmit rabies to dogs by biting them salivating them or by opening their mouths.
Could you’re dog contract rabies if he eats a bat that has rabies?
Since I cannot find an authoritative answer I honestly can not say for sure but I would think its likely.
Even so if the bat has been dead for some time then your dog may have a lucky escape.
Can dogs survive rabies?
A few accounts and statistics suggest that dogs can survive rabies in very very rare circumstances.
According to this article from an authoritative science journal dogs survive rabies up to 14% of the time but I cannot verify this statistic because I cannot find it anywhere else.
The study carried out in 2004 with nearly 1000 dogs found that none of them survived longer than ten days following a bite. The majority died within four days.
However the harsh reality is that most dogs would not because most dogs will be euthanized if they are suspected of having rabies.
How do I stop my dog from getting rabies?
Vaccinating your dog before they get bitten is the only way to prevent your dog from getting rabies.
Humans can get vaccinated after they have been bitten by a rabid animal but dogs and cats cannot.
As an interesting side note this post-bite serum was developed by Louis Pasteur the man who invented pasteurization the process that keeps milk and beer safe.
What are the symptoms of rabies?
It is hard to be very precise about many aspects of rabies as it is with many diseases.
It might take up to two weeks or four months for your dog to show any signs of trouble after being bitten by a rabies bat.
It depends on the size of the bite and how close the bite was to the brain or spine.
During the first stage your dogs character will completely change.
What images do we have of aggressive dogs with wild stares a mass of saliva hanging from their mouths and wild staring eyes?
The rabies virus transforms shy and gentle dogs into these vicious creatures.
If your dog was quite aggressive before it bit you it will be turned into a nervous wreck cowering away in the corner because everything scares it.
After that your dog will either get the furious form of the disease or the dumb form.
Furious dogs will remain aggressive agitated and in their madness they will eat anything they can get their mouths on.
Paralysis sets in and the dog dies after a violent seizure.
Dogs are more likely to get the dumb form of the disease which skips the aggressive phase.
As your dog becomes increasingly paralyzed he will go into a coma and die.
How can I stop my dog from getting rabies?
Vaccinating your dog and keeping their vaccination records current is the only way to prevent your dog from contracting rabies from a bat.
If your dog gets rabies there are many tragic things that can happen but one I havenot mentioned yet is that you are very limited in what you can do.
By the time your dog shows any symptoms it will be too late because the chances of them recovering are so slim and you cannot help them because of the high likelihood of contracting rabies from handling them.
Any sign of fevered aggression or paralysis must be reported to your veterinarian immediately.
How common are bats?
In the U.S. and in the UK bats can be found throughout but their numbers have drastically decreased.
Nearly 13 of the species of bats in North America are in decline.
Therefore its really hard to say how likely it is that you or your dog will encounter a bat.
If you live in a rural area you are more likely to come across one than in a city.
Some great maps for the UK are available if you want to see some of the survey data.
A map of bat diversity in the US can be found here.
Try not to worry if your dog has eaten a bat.
Beyond a bit of sickness and diarrhea they are unlikely to suffer any serious ill effects.
Because the UK is rabies-free your dog is almost certain to suffer no more than this.
The risk of rabies is higher in the US where it does exist but it is still extremely unlikely.
After closely studying this issue I think that being forewarned is being forearmed.
Talk to your vet if you live in an area where bats (of whatever species) are quite common to see to see if they think your dog needs an anti-rabies vaccination.