Your pets aren’t completely safe from the dangers of wild animals — even in a fenced-in back yard. Make a note of these 10 most frequent pet predators (according to PetVet.com), along with what you can do to help prevent attacks on your beloved pets.
You may hear their yips, barks and plaintive cries during the night and dismiss them, but coyotes are your pets’ #1 predator. More dogs and cats go missing from Coyote attacks that from any other source. Coyotes typically don’t attack to injure, either. Most frequently, they kill their prey.
Coyotes are not limited to rural areas, either. They can be found in parks, near rivers and creeks, in wooded areas, and even cemeteries. If you hear a coyote, keep pets — especially small pets — indoors at night. Pet food also attracts coyotes and other predators, so be sure to keep food indoors if possible.
Snakes are the second most common predator to household pets. Most snakebites in the United States come from water moccasins and copperheads. Your pets enjoy the warm summer Texas weather, but so do snakes.
Most snakes are not venomous. There are only 4 types of poisonous snakes in Texas: coral snakes, copperheads, cottonmouths (water moccasins) and rattlesnakes. Each of these four poisonous snakes have a triangular-shaped head, cat-like eyes, and heavy bodies.
Study these photographs and visit local nature centers or the Dallas Zoo, Houston Zoo or Fort Worth Zoo to be able to identify venomous snakes quickly. If one of these snakes bites your pet, try to identify it, but don’t get too close. You can get bitten even more easily by trying to kill the snake than by leaving it alone. Simply keep your pet calm and call your veterinarian. Try not to disturb the bite on your pet — it will be very painful and your pet may bite you as well. You may want to muzzle your pet for transport or wrap it in a blanket or (especially for cats) a carrier box. Do not put a tourniquet on your pet or apply ice or bandages! After treatment, your pet will likely be in the hospital for a day or more and swollen for several days.
Avoid snake threats! Keep debris off of your property, mow and trim grass and vegetation and snakes will have fewer places to hide.
If you do see snakes, we can help. Call our Dallas or Houston office for assistance with snake removal.
Cougars (mountain lions or pumas) rarely attack people, but are deadly to livestock and outdoor pets. Baby cougars are super cute, but baby cougars are also dangerous to pets… because if if you see a baby, there’s a mother nearby. :]
If you see a cougar on your property, notify us or the police immediately.
If you do come across a cougar on a hike or jog, remain calm and give the cougar a chance to flee if it’s cornered. Back away slowly and keep your eye on it. Make yourself as big as possible. Cougars like smaller prey. Once the cougar leaves, you do the same! If it does follow you, make loud noises, show your teeth, and keep eye contact. If it continues to follow you, grab a big stick. If you have to fight, aim for the eyes and face.
Raccoons may be cute, but they can be dangerous — even in big cites. Raccoons carry rabies and other diseases. To discourage raccoons from entering your property, keep garbage cans in your garage or at least keep them tightly closed. Avoid keeping pet food outdoors. Feeding your pets inside is one of the easiest ways to protect against animal attacks.
Squirrels are cute and awesome to watch, but they can also be quite feisty. A squirrel can scratch or bite a predator if it has to defend itself — often resulting in a trip to the vet for the attacker. Dogs and cats love to chase squirrels and frequently win the chase, but with a quick bite or claw mark as a consequence.
There’s not a lot you can do to prevent your dogs from chasing squirrels, but there are things we can do to catch them and relocate them, or discourage them from entering your property. Generally speaking, just pay attention to your dog or cat while it’s outdoors and you will have a healthier, safer pet.
Many people mistakenly believe that cats are immune to scorpion stings, but scorpions are actually poisonous to both dogs and cats. Luckily, only a few of the many dangerous species are in the United States: the Arizona Bark Scorpion, which is usually a few inches in length, light brown and nocturnal.
If you see or suspect that a scorpion has stung your pet, call your veterinarian immediately. If you can catch the scorpion, your vet can identify it and help provide a proper treatment.
Common signs to watch for:
- Localized pain
- Redness (to the bite area)
- Abnormal heart rate
- Abnormal blood pressure
- Dilated pupils
- Walking drunk
- Abnormal eye movement
While Porcupines are introverts, they can cause serious pain for your pets if threatened. If your pets are attacked by a porcupine, have a veterinarian remove the quills. You can remove them your self if there are only a few in number and not located near the eyes or other sensitive areas to reduce the chance of infection or organ damage. It’s a difficult process to undertake without the help of a professional because your pet will struggle. Large quills near sensitive areas can cause difficulty for the pet if removed in an improper manner. Professionals can help restrain your pet and remove the quills properly.
If you do have to remove quills from a porcupine attack, use pliers or another tool. Ignore the internet legend about cutting the quill in half — this serves no legitimate purpose and simply makes the quills difficult to grab onto.
After treatment, take your pet for a rabies vaccine and monitor them for a few weeks to make sure their condition improves.
A skunk’s foul odor not only smells horrible, it can also cause intense discomfort in your pet’s eyes.
Skunks are beneficial to their environment and rarely use their spray. Skunks are transient creatures, but a continuous musky smell in one area may indicate that a skunk is trying to live in that location. Call Trapping USA to have a persistent skunk removed from your property.
If you see a skunk, don’t panic or scare it. Most skunks are not aggressive and usually won’t harm humans without a threat. Skunks benefit people by eating pests, so they aren’t necessarily a negative to your property. Skunks will warn you, though, if their young are threatened and they cannot escape — they may stamp their feet, raise their tail, hiss, charge at you and point their hind quarters at you. Simply move away slowly and quietly. Pets tend to ignore warnings, so help them by restraining and removing them from the area.
To prevent skunks, keep garbage and pet food indoors. Don’t create denning opportunities with wood or rock piles, elevated sheds or areas under porches and crawl spaces. Don’t over-water your lawn — this will attract skunks indirectly by creating more tasty grub worms closer to the surface. Repellents include kitty litter, capsaicin or castor oil. Predator urine is usually collected under inhumane conditions, so we do not recommend it.
If your pet has been sprayed by a skunk, try a better solution than the traditional temporary solution of tomato sauce and vinegar. Mix:
- 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap
Wash the pet with this solution while wearing rubber gloves and then dispose of the solution, as the mixture could explode if left in a bottle.
Skunks do carry rabies and leptospirosis. If your pet bites or is bitten or scratched by a skunk, seek assistance from a veterinarian.
Groundhogs are large rodents that only attack when threatened. Their powerful claws and teeth pose a danger to pets. They are found mostly in areas where fields meet forests. Like the dangers posed by squirrels, keeping an eye on your pets will help keep them safe from groundhogs.
Checking in at #10 on our list of most dangerous animals to pets is the rat. Rats transmit several diseases that pose serious threats to pets. Though not always fatal, the diseases pose enough danger to your pet that you should avoid letting the pet near rats at all times. To eliminate these dangers, call Trapping USA for rat control in Dallas or Houston.
- Rat bites, scratches, or contact with a dead rat can cause “Rat Bite Fever”.
- Rat urine or inhalation of feces can spread the bacterial disease leptospirosis and result in liver or kidney failure or cardiovascular issues.
- The viral infection lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV) can be transmitted through the saliva or urine of rats.
- Pets can contract rabbit fever (Tularemia) by eating infected rats or by drinking water contaminated by an infected rat. Incidentally, pets can pass this disease to humans by interaction with their feces or an open wound. If left untreated, rabbit fever can be deadly. Antibiotics may be required to stop the post infection problems.
- Rats can also directly transmit diseases, such as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. This disease can be spread by inhaling dust, through contaminated rat droppings or urine and the direct contact of the urine and feces form the rat. Sometime it may be caused by the bite of the rats.
- Pets can contract salmonellosis by consuming water or food contaminated by bacteria in rat feces. Salmonellosis often leads to disorders, such as gastroenteritis, spontaneous abortions, and septicemia. Salmonellosis affects both dogs and cats and can be spread to humans.
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