When it comes to meals, predatory species don’t distinguish between other wildlife and man’s best friend.
Even in urban landscapes and suburbs, pet owners must be on the lookout for dangerous hunters like coyote, snakes and birds of prey. Not only can they inflict serious harm or even death on your beloved pet, they can also carry infectious diseases like rabies or parvo and parasites such as fleas or intestinal worms.
Familiarize yourself with the following tips. They could help save your pet’s life one day.
Interacting with a Predator
Coyote are prolific predators that have now been reported in every state in the U.S. except Hawaii. Even densely populated, urban areas such as Manhattan, DFW and Los Angeles aren’t immune. In response to their pervasiveness, wildlife experts have developed an effective coyote hazing method, which includes:
- Making lots of noise (shouting, using airhorns, jingling keys, blowing whistles, etc.)
- Throwing rocks and small objects
- Making yourself appear as large as possible and waving your arms
- Using sticks to appear more menacing
- Running towards them and never turning your back
- Charging the coyote until they completely retreat (may take one or two times)
It’s also important to train your pet to come to you when they see a snake, hawk or coyote. Do this by calling them to you whenever you see a predator and reinforcing the behavior with treats.
Pet owners should also learn the difference between a poisonous and nonpoisonous snake, stay away from structures like stacks of rocks that could house snakes and know which snake breeds are most common for their areas.
Protecting Dogs from Wildlife
Dogs are most vulnerable when on walks. To keep them protected:
- Avoid taking walks during dawn and dusk. Wait until the sun is high and stay on populated trails.
- Keep dogs on a short leash when out walking (avoid the 6 feet retractable expanding models).
Protecting Cats from Wildlife
The only sure way to keep cats safe is to make sure they stay indoors. However, if your feline friend will be spending time outside be sure to:
- Provide them with a tall post or tree to climb to escape a predator.
- Always bring them inside the house once the sun goes down.
General Tips to Protect your Pet from Predators
Although recommended, it’s unrealistic to think you could keep watch over your pet at all times, even when they’re in your own backyard.
Still, feral animals can be deterred or altogether prevented by taking a few extra precautions in and around the home. Some include:
- Using motion detecting lights, sprinklers or a hose to startle the intruder.
- Providing a caged run or roofed enclosure when pets must be outside unsupervised.
- Keeping food and water dishes indoors so they don’t attract wildlife.
- Spraying yard with vinegar water to deter by scent. (Make sure to treat your yard often especially after rains).
- Refraining from feeding non-predatory ground birds.
- Never feeding wildlife.
- Trimming overgrown branches or shrubs to eliminate perches or bird nests.
- Cleaning and storing grills after use.
- Ensuring compost bins are covered and free of meat scraps or animal bones.
- Being cautious if you or neighbors have chickens on your property. (The chickens, feed, and rodent bate are likely to attract predators.)
- Maintaining your yard and keeping grass mowed to avoid harboring snakes or rodents that could increase your chances of attracting snakes or birds of prey.
As a caring pet parent the onus is on you to protect your furry friend from predators. With a bit of foresight and a little education, you can keep peace in the animal kingdom all while making sure your pet stays safe from neighboring wildlife.