Be Prepared to Protect Your Pet from Backyard Predators

Allowing your dog or cat to come and go as it pleases is convenient, especially if you run a business from home or if your schedule keeps you away from home. Outdoor kennels, fencing and/or invisible fencing are methods you might be using to prevent your dog from running into the street or off into the woods. While these systems are a handy way to ensure that your pet can relieve itself when you’re not around, they lend your pet to backyard predators.

Depending on where you live, there are some or even many wild animals that can harm your dog or cat. Recently, at the Edward Air Force Base in California, residents have been urged to protect their pets from desert predators including bobcats and coyotes. Unfortunately, residents have provided these wild animals with easy access to food, water and shelter. In order to stop the attacks on pets, base residents will have to be more conscious and smarter about their activities. In the meantime, the base’s Security Forces and the Environmental Management staff are doing what they can to control the foraging bobcats and coyotes.

Whether you live near the desert, in the mountains or in a rural or urban area, there are always predators that can potentially cause harm or kill your pet. Below are some common predators that you might come across where you live, and after reading more about each one, you will be more prepared to protect and watch out for your pet’s safety.

Stinky Skunks

Skunks are mild mannered animals that roam around during the evening hours in search of food. In some ways, they are similar to raccoons, because in addition to eating smaller creatures such as insects and mice, skunks also feed on garbage and leftover pet food. If you’re not diligent about enclosing your compost bin or containing and emptying your garbage, a skunk might create a home near these food sources. These animals are also known for burrowing underneath houses in openings under a porch or large cracks in the foundation.

Unless a skunk is threatened, it will resist spraying and generally give a warning not to come any closer. However, in the case that your pet comes across one, it’s hard to say what will happen. Obviously, if a skunk bites your dog or cat, you will definitely want to take it to the veterinarian immediately. A good preventative measure to have in place is to keep your pet updated with the rabies vaccine.

To reduce the scent of skunk spray, you can bath your pet in tomato juice or vinegar.

Prickly Porcupines

Even though our pets are smart, it’s sometimes hard for them to resist curiosity. When it comes to porcupines, curiosity can be painful…did you know that these creatures have 15,000 to 30,000 quills!

Similar to the skunk, a porcupine won’t attack unless the situation calls for it, and they are actually peaceful nocturnal vegetarians. Nevertheless, if your dog or cat provokes a porcupine, it could get swatted by its tail or legs and endure a blow of needles to the face or other area of its body.

Depending on how deep and how many quills are stuck into your pet’s skin, you might have to take them to the veterinarian. Here they will use anesthesia, sedation or pain relievers before removing the quills. In addition, the veterinarian can check to ensure that quills aren’t stuck in the tongue, back of the throat or inside of the body—over time, quills can migrate into the heart, lungs and surrounding tissue.

If your pet has only a few quills lodged into its body, you can remove them with pliers. Some pets can tolerate this while others might run away in fear. What you want to do is use the pliers to firmly grasp the quill and then pull it out quickly. The end that was dislodged should have a sharp point, so when you see this you know that the quill has been removed entirely.

Will your pet never be interested in a porcupine again? It’s really hard to say, because some pets are slow learners who live in the moment of the chase.

Pack Hunting Coyotes

Coyotes often consume small mammals such as gophers and squirrels, but when the pickings are slim due to urban sprawl, these animals go for whatever is easily accessible. In most cases coyotes rarely perform coordinated group hunting, but they will employ this strategy when necessary. In any case, you need to be aware that these solitary hunters will take its prey by surprise and inflict a bite to the head or neck and then give a violent shake similar to the attack method of a wild cat. Also, if you hear a pattern of high intensity yips, this either means that the coyote pack is advertising its territory or preparing for a coordinated group hunting strategy.

Some ways to reduce you and your pet’s chances of coming face to face with a coyote include installing a fence at least six feet in height, walking your dog on a leash, carrying a loud whistle or walking stick and avoiding daily patterns such as the same walking routine. If a coyote ends up approaching you, it’s best to make eye contact, shout, throw objects and make yourself look as big as you can.

Small & Large Wild Cats

Wild cats are another predator to keep on your watch list. Because these cats are illegally and legally kept as pets all around the country, you could come across a wild or domesticated one. In spite of this, it’s important to remember that in either case, the cat is a ferocious and powerful creature that might go to great lengths in the name of survival.

To protect yourself from such a cunning and strategic animal, you should never run away from it or turn your back. When a wild cat sees you or your pet as potential prey, it’s going to notice you before you recognize its presence. So what you want to do is make yourself appear domineering, and if it approaches you, hurl rocks at it, wave and shout. The idea is to make it clear to the cat that you’re not helpless and weak.

For aggressive cats that take the attack to the next level, your job will be to protect you and your dog’s head and neck, because this is where the cat will strike first. When the opportunity presents itself, definitely hit the cat in the nose to further deter it from messing with you. It’s wise to avoid walking around dusk or dawn and to hike in groups instead of going alone.

At the End of the Day…

These predators are all beautiful animals that should be respected and protected, but if you or your pet’s life is at risk, you will have to do everything in your power to fend the predator off.

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