Most pets love the great outdoors, and with the weather heating up, you and your pal are likely to be spending more time outside. However, certain dangers lurk beyond the front door, from fleas and ticks to poisonous plants to extreme weather temperatures. And one additional danger that pet owners often overlook is the presence of other animals.
Depending on where you live, you may have skunks, raccoons, coyotes, rattlesnakes, large birds of prey, or other creatures in your yard or neighborhood. In addition to being carriers of disease, many wild animals are also capable of seriously injuring or even killing your pet.
To protect your pet from wildlife and keep the great outdoors great, follow these guidelines:
1. Make Your Yard Less Inviting to Wildlife
Wild animals often find their way into our yards when looking for food, water, or shelter. If you feed your pet outside, don’t make it a free-for-all; feed them at specific times, and collect unfinished portions when they’re done eating. Make sure that food storage containers and trash cans are secure and difficult for an animal to reach or knock over.
In addition, consider the vegetation growing in your yard. Are there berries, fruits, or seeds? You may be offering wildlife a non-stop buffet. Do you have a fountain or koi pond? It may be the perfect place for an unwanted guest to rehydrate.
Also consider cleaning up your yard to eliminate wood piles, rock piles, or other areas of clutter. These dark, shady nooks offer wild animals a cool and cozy place to curl up or nest.
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2. If You Live In A High Risk Area, Don’t Leave Your Pet Unattended In The Yard
This is especially true for smaller pets who can be easily scooped up by birds like hawks or caught by coyotes. Larger pets can also become prey, so be careful if you live in an area with lots of predators, and remember that many animals hunt both day and night.
3. Vaccinate Your Pet
Make sure that your pet is up to date on their vaccinations. The rabies vaccine is especially important when it comes to encounters with other species, and if you live in an area known for rattlesnakes, you can also ask your veterinarian about the rattlesnake vaccine. And did you know that many dog obedience schools also offer classes for rattlesnake avoidance?! Pretty cool.
4. Practice Night Safety
Have you ever seen a skunk scurrying along a dark street? Or a band of raccoons feasting on spilled trash under a street light? Many animals come out at night, and an accidental encounter could spell trouble for your pet. When walking your pet at night, keep them on a leash, and be aware of your surroundings. Be careful about letting your pet sniff or walk around in dark bushes — this is how lots of dogs get “skunked.” And look out for groups of coyotes who may try to lure your dog away under the pretense of “play.” You can also make your yard safer by lighting it up; many wild animals avoid bright lights.
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5. What to Do if You Encounter Wildlife
If you encounter a wild animal while you are out on a walk, don’t panic; most animals are more afraid of you than you are of them. Your response to an encounter will depend on the animal and your distance from the animal. In many cases, an animal will run off on their own, but other times you may need to scare them away or defend yourself. Runner’s World has a great article on handling animal encounters.
Do you live in an area with wildlife or have you ever had a wild animal encounter with your pet? Leave a comment and let us know! Another way to protect your pet? Sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. Check it out at PetPlus.com.