Who doesn’t love the start of summer? Warmer weather and longer days mean you get to spend more time outside. While you may know the essentials of taking care of yourself during these warm-weathered months, have you thought about what threats there are to your pets?
We aren’t just talking about the importance of hydration and flea control, though. When the weather breaks, the likelihood that you may run into a wild animal goes up, as they will begin to come out of hibernation and can end up in your backyards and neighborhoods.
Even if you live in a more metro or urban area, taking your dog out for a walk or to an unfamiliar place can put them in harm’s way. The best thing you can do is know how to act in case there is an encounter and what you can do to protect your pet from a wild animal.
Wildlife That Is a Risk to Dogs and Cats
Where you live may be a great indicator of what types of animals you may encounter, but even if you don’t live near a forest or park, that doesn’t mean that you won’t run into urban wildlife. This type of wildlife occurs when non-domestic animals share the environment in which you live.
What this means for you and your pets is that these wildlife animals may pose a potential health risk. The first thing you need to know is what kind of animals are native in your area, and which you are most likely to run into.
Common urban wildlife animals are coyotes, skunks, raccoons, and foxes. While some of these are seemingly harmless and may not care to interact with you, a curious dog or cat can scare the animal and an altercation may break out.
Knowing that those are the common wild animals, it may seem obvious that some of them pose more of a threat than another, but, the transmission of these diseases can happen quicker and easier than you can imagine. Sometimes all it takes is contaminated water or soil. But, mainly the transmission occurs through saliva, especially by bites.
While we all know having a dog sprayed by a skunk is a less-than-pleasant experience, it’s usually a problem that can be resolved by a few home remedies. But, these critters, just like raccoons, foxes, and coyotes, can also carry rabies.
When it comes to heartworms, your dog can get this from an infected raccoon or coyote. Raccoons also carry an intestinal parasite called Baylisascaris.
If your dog enjoys the water or you will be hiking through trails, it is best to have them vaccinated against these diseases as well as others, such as Leptospirosis. This bacterial disease is transmitted through urine, so it could contaminate areas pets may play or drink.
Tips to Protect Dogs From Wild Animals
While you may go to great lengths to protect your pet from a wild animal, you have to remember that these non-domestic creatures are not vaccinated and do not have any type of disease control.
Knowing that these animals can carry diseases — such as rabies, heartworms, parasites, and other diseases — the following are tips to protect your dog from wildlife.
- Vaccines — Keep your dog up-to-date and all their shots to ensure that they are protected against disease.
- Lighting — If it is getting dark, try to only walk your dog in well-lit areas so you can see if a wild animal is approaching. Light is a natural deterrent for some.
- Limit outside time — Try to keep your dog’s outdoor time to a minimum. Also, do not leave them unattended.
- Leashes — Your dogs should only be walked on sturdy leashes, especially in rural areas or at night.
- Desirable yard — Make your own property less desirable by the use of fencing and closing up any hiding or crawl spaces that wildlife would enter.
- Food — There are no circumstances in which you should feed wild animals. This only makes your home a desirable location.
- Noise — Be ready to make noise to ward off predators if they are approaching.
- Report — Let the neighborhood know of any wildlife spotting, especially those that pose a real threat to domestic animals such as coyotes.
In addition to the above tips, if you have a smaller dog, you should always watch or accompany them while outdoors no matter what time of day it is. At night, it is best practice to turn all the lights on in the yard and even using a leash when taking your dog outside.