No matter what part of the country you live in, wild or feral animals pose a serious risk to dogs and other domesticated animals.
The specific wild animals you might encounter will depend on your region and whether you’re living in a rural area or a city, but some of the most common culprits include coyotes, raccoons, snakes, skunks, scorpions, rats, and porcupines.
These animals aren’t “mean” by nature, but they are predators. They may attack if they believe your dog is threatening them or encroaching on their territory.
So how do you keep your canine friend safe from the bites, stings, scratches, and diseases of the wild animals in your area? Keep the following tips in mind.
- Keep Your Dog Up to Date on Vaccinations
Your dog may already be receiving core vaccines on a regular schedule, but you should talk to your vet about additional vaccines that may protect against diseases associated with wild animals in your area. For example, your vet may suggest vaccinating your dog against Borrelia burgdorferi, a cause of Lyme disease, if you live in an area with a lot of ticks.
- Don’t Leave Your Dog’s Food Outside
Your dog isn’t the only one that enjoys the food you set out for him — animals like raccoons, skunks, and opossums have good senses of smell and may find their way into your yard if they think there’s a meal waiting for them. If possible, feed your dog inside. If not, move any leftovers inside after your dog has finished with his food bowl.
- Don’t Leave Your Dog Outside Unsupervised
If you know there are wild animals in your area, you should always keep an eye on your dog when she’s outside, even if you have a fenced-in yard. Predators may be able to climb over or find a break in the fence. Don’t chain or tether your dog outside, as this will make him an easy target for large predators.You can also install coyote rollers or other deterrent devices on your fences to keep predators out — and your dog in.
- Clean Up the Yard
Predators can also smell dog droppings, so make it a habit to clear your yard of droppings on a daily basis. While you’re cleaning up the yard, also clear low overhanging branches, brush, or other areas where a small predator might take up residence. Make sure all outdoor trashcans are sealed so you’re not giving raccoons an open invitation.
- Make Sure Your Dog Is Wearing ID
Your dog should have at least an ID tag with current contact information securely attached to her collar, and you should consider microchipping as well. If your dog is attacked or startled by a wild animal, he might take off running away from your property.
- Make a First Aid Kit
Most people have a first aid kit somewhere in their home, but it’s a good idea to have one specifically for your dog so you can provide emergency treatment if a vet is not immediately available — although you should get your dog to the vet as soon as possible in the event of a wild animal attack.You’ll want to include basics, such as gauze pads, gauze rolls, tweezers, non-latex gloves, and saline solution, as well as contact information for your vet and your dog’s medical records. See our recommendations for items to include in your first aid kit.
If you’re not sure what wild animals may be a problem in your area, talk to your vet or call the local fish and game department, which is usually part of county government.
Remember, preventing your dog from being attacked by a wild animal in the first place is far more preferable than having to seek medical treatment after an attack occurs, so be vigilant and take precautions to keep your four-legged companion safe.
Was your dog ever attacked by a wild animal? What happened? Tell us all about it in the comments!