Protect Your Dog from Wild Animals
By Arlo the Hound with help from Honor Tarpenning
We dogs are curious creatures. It is no secret that we often stick our snouts were they don’t belong. This errant snout-sticking can sometimes get us more than we’ve reckoned for in the form of bites, stings, scratches and spines.
Some animals are more likely than others to attack your dog. These animals include snakes, raccoons, squirrels, coyotes, porcupines, ground hogs, scorpions, bobcats, skunks, rats, hawks and bear. It is important to remember that these aren’t “vicious” creatures. There’s no need to go after them or try to eradicate them from their natural habitat. These wild animals are just that--wild. They will attack if they are cornered. The way to protect your pet is to be vigilant and keep the following precautions in mind.
Rabies makes animals aggressive, combative, and highly sensitive to stimulation. This means if an infected animal strays into your yard, or crosses your dog’s path, it is very likely to bite. Make sure your dog is up to date on his rabies vaccinations. Investigate your local laws regarding rabies vaccination and inquire with your vet about which vaccine is being used. Some are good for 1 year, while others are good for 3. However, even if your dog receives the 3 year vaccine, some states still require that your dog be vaccinated yearly.
Leash Your Dog
Keeping your dog on a leash is about as failsafe as you can get. If your dog is no more than six feet from you at all times, it will be hard for him to harass a wild animal, and thus get into trouble. Leashing your dog on walks also has huge benefits when it comes to your dog’s discipline and your relationship.
Have a canine first aid kit ready. If your dog is bitten, scratched, or stung, you should take him to the vet, but you should also have emergency supplies on the ready. Put your vet’s phone number and the number of the closest emergency vet in this kit as well.
Know Your Vet
Cultivate a relationship with your vet and his or her staff. When you know these people personally, and they know your dog well, it will make you more comfortable calling in to find out what you should do. Never feel bad calling your vet to ask if something is severe enough for a visit. If you have a good, trustworthy vet, they will tell you what you can do at home, if anything, to avoid the cost of a vet visit when the issue at hand is not severe.
Keep an ID tag on your dog at all times. An injury due to a wild animal attack is likely to send your dog running. When he stops, you want whoever finds him to be able to reach you immediately. This will also alert animal control officials that yours is a family dog with a loving home, rather than a feral or stray dog.
Do not leave your dog outside unattended. Even if you have a fenced-in yard, wild animals can enter and will be more easily cornered by a curious dog. The best way to protect your dog from harm is to keep an eye on him.
When you walk your dog, carry an air horn, pepper spray, or a big stick. This will help you handle any wild animal that behaves aggressively. These precautions also help if you live in an area with a lot of stray dogs.
Keep low-hanging branches trimmed. Also keep fallen fruit and nuts picked up. These are habitat and sustenance for wild animals and will encourage them to hang out in your yard. These critters also carry fleas and ticks, so limiting how attractive your yard is to them is beneficial all around.
Seal crawl-spaces under your house, and any other areas where wild animals may nest. Making your home a less hospitable place for wild animals sidesteps the need to later trap and remove raccoons, squirrels and other animals that want to make your house their home.
Install motion-sensor lights on your property. They save electricity by not staying on all night, but will light up when an animal crosses into their sensor range. Nocturnal animals will run off quickly when light floods the yard.
Call your local Cooperative Extension System office. This is an educational network through the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) that “provides useful, practical, and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities of all sizes.” Ask what kind of wild animals are a threat in your area, and what else you can do to protect your family pets.
So, here's hoping your dog stays away from those critters! Stay tuned for tomorrow's tips on some ever creepier critters--Fleas. ICK!