Are Gophers Harmful to Dogs (or are they Afraid)?

Gophers can be a nuisance in many backyards, and as a dog owner, you might be worried about the presence of gopher holes. You may wonder if gophers are dangerous to dogs and if they could potentially attack your furry friend. In fact, one person even reached out to me in concern, questioning whether a gopher could kill a dog.

So, let’s uncover the truth about dogs and gophers.

Will a gopher attack a dog?

When it comes to aggressiveness, gophers aren’t at the top of the list. It is extremely rare to hear about a gopher attacking a dog, let alone killing one.

However, that doesn’t mean it never happens. Like other prey animals, a gopher will instinctively defend itself if cornered or provoked by a dog. In such cases, it may lash out and potentially harm your canine companion.

But overall, gophers are not inherently dangerous to dogs unless your furry friend has cornered one and gets scratched or bitten.

Do dogs eat gophers?

If given the chance, most dogs won’t hesitate to catch and eat a gopher. They consider gopher meat a delightful treat and would go to great lengths to catch one. After all, dogs are natural hunters and have an instinct to chase anything that moves.

However, gophers have sharp teeth and claws, which they use for digging tunnels and tearing plant roots. If a dog tunnels into a gopher’s burrow, there is a risk of getting scratched or bitten.

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But it’s important to note that gophers typically resort to scratching or biting as a last resort, only if they feel it is necessary to protect themselves. Their instinct is to avoid confrontations with predators like dogs. Nonetheless, considering the sharpness of a gopher’s self-defense tools, a dog may end up with a serious wound from a bite or scratch.

Are gophers scared of dogs?

Yes, gophers are indeed scared of dogs. They view dogs as predators and are naturally intimidated by their presence. Dogs understand this fear and will boldly pursue a gopher if they spot one.

Gophers may seem harmless in pictures, but once they invade your property, they can wreak havoc. They will dig unsightly mounds of soil in your well-manicured lawn, devour the plants you’ve worked hard to grow, and make themselves at home.

Dogs, too, cannot tolerate the presence of gophers. They perceive gophers as a threat to their territory and will go to great lengths to get rid of them, even if they have a low prey drive. Gophers resemble oversized rats and, being timid creatures by nature, they lack the confidence to confront a dog.

When faced with a dog, gophers will flee and seek refuge in their burrowed tunnels. Confronting scary predators isn’t their specialty.

Can dogs get sick from eating gophers?

Dogs can potentially get sick from eating gophers, especially if the gopher had a worm or bacterial infection, or if it ingested poison. Additionally, gophers may carry fleas, mites, and ticks, which can also transmit diseases to your dog.

Generally, gopher meat is safe for dogs to consume as long as the gopher was healthy before its demise. When your dog catches a gopher, it is not unusual for them to indulge in their well-deserved reward.

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However, finding a completely healthy dead gopher can be challenging. Like other rodents, gophers carry external parasites that can transfer to your dog upon contact with the dead body. If the gopher had internal worms, your dog could get infected by consuming its meat. Furthermore, gophers can harbor bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella, which can make your dog ill if they consume the dead gopher.

Dogs aren’t particularly picky when it comes to sampling dead animals. If your dog stumbles upon a gopher carcass during their walk, there’s a high chance they will consider it a tasty treat. This poses a significant problem as the gopher might have succumbed to rodenticide poisoning.

What if a dog eats a poisoned gopher?

If your dog ingests gopher meat contaminated with poison, they may experience secondary poisoning. The poison present in the meat can wreak havoc on your dog’s body, leading to potentially fatal symptoms such as bloody vomit or diarrhea, lung damage, breathing difficulties, seizures, internal bleeding, and kidney or liver damage.

Getting rid of gophers in your home

Using poison bait is perhaps the easiest way to eliminate gophers from your property. The poison acts quickly, and the gopher will die within minutes of ingesting it.

However, poisoning is not the safest method if you have a dog (or for the sake of your neighbors’ dogs). There is a risk that your dog may come across the poisoned gopher and consume it.

Fortunately, there are several natural methods to eliminate gophers:

  • Place dog poop or dog urine-soaked soil in the gopher’s tunnels, as gophers dislike the smell of their predator’s waste.
  • Use repellents such as castor oil, coffee grounds, cayenne pepper, fish oil, garlic, peppermint oil, or eucalyptus oil. Mix these with water and pour the solution into the gopher’s holes and around your yard.
  • Fence your garden and grow strong-smelling plants that gophers dislike, such as rosemary, marigold, lavender, and thyme. Planting these around your yard can also be effective.
  • Consider a solar-powered ultrasonic gopher repellent. These devices emit vibrations that prompt gophers to relocate to a more peaceful environment. Place the repellent near the gopher holes.
  • Hang a plastic owl decoy since gophers are naturally scared of owls. Move the decoy regularly to prevent the gopher from realizing it’s a fake.
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How do you scare gophers away?

To scare gophers away, you can use ultrasonic gopher repellents, hang plastic owl decoys, grow strong-smelling plants that gophers dislike, and apply repellents near the gopher holes.

Are gophers good for dogs?

Gopher meat is not inherently toxic to dogs. However, if a gopher dies from poisoning, has a worm infection, or carries bacteria, consuming such a gopher can pose a danger to your dog’s health.

Are gophers afraid of people?

Yes, gophers fear humans.

Does dog poop get rid of gophers?

Yes, dog poop can effectively deter gophers.


While gophers may not typically target dogs and pose a direct threat, caution is necessary to ensure the well-being of your canine companion. It’s important to understand the potential risks associated with gopher encounters. Implementing preventive measures and employing natural methods to eliminate gophers from your property will help create a safer and more enjoyable environment for both you and your furry friend.

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