Precautions Against

Disease & Injury

Ignore the advice on this page and die young!!


Rats can transmit at least 35 diseases to humans, including leptospirosis (very, very common) and the plague (very rare). Other diseases transmittable by rats include: typhus, rabies, tularemia, trichinosis, leishmaniasis, spirilary rat bite fever, and spirochetal jaundice.

In practice, keeping yourself and your dog disease-free is relatively easy, provided you use common sense:

Inoculate your dog. Nothing is more important than a full inoculation. This should inlcude an innouculation for leptospirosis. Some dogs have an adverse reaction to this shot and some areas have a form of lepto that the vaccine does not work to prevent, but any dog that is ratting should have a lepto shot. Period.

Try to reduce your physical contact with the rats. Wear gloves. Put rubber bands around your pants legs in areas where rats are really swarming, and handle rats only by grabbing their tails. Some folks use salad tongs as "rat tongs".

Stay out of puddles and all other water where rats may have urinated. You and your dog can catch leptospirosis by coming into contact with puddles and other water into which a rat may have urinated. Have a ready supply of clean water your dog can drink from so it is less likely to drink from a puddle into which a rat has urinated.

Do not let your dog chew on a rat. Most dogs will bite, shake, snap, and drop a rat in the speed it takes to read this sentence. If your dog attempts to carry or chew on the rat, discourage this by yelling at it, bribing it, or even smacking it (gently) in the muzzle with a leash. In fact, some dogs are simply "mashers" and "crunchers" and there is nothing to be done about it.

After ratting use bleach. Wash you clothes with an extra shot of bleach, take a hot shower, and use bleach on your hands with special attention around the fingernails.

If you get sick, go to a doctor FAST. Most diseases are treatable, but getting to a doctor early is important in every single case. If you cannot afford to go to a doctor, do not go ratting.


Leptospirosis or Weil's Disease

An astonishing 55 percent of all rats are reputed to carry leptospirosis, with over 66 percent of all city rats reportedly infected.   

Nearly every animal can catch leptospirosis -- horses, pigs, cats, dogs, human -- but the rat, ironically, is immune, and lepto is actually 
quite uncommon in dogs and generally impacts dogs younger than 6 months.  


Sepsis of wounds

Most rat-inflicted wounds are minor and can be treated by flushing them well with water and treating with prov-iodine or an anti-bacterial ointment. Check over your dog thoroughly right after you have been ratting, and then again the next day and the next looking for abscesses or infections.