Protect your pets from coyotes and other wild animals
Posted July 06, 2018
Although most wild animals mind their business and
don’t bother humans, some wild animals, such as coyotes, can wander
into human environments and cause harm to pets.
“It’s pretty amazing how much damage coyotes can do to pets,
especially when you consider that coyotes are roughly the size of a
domestic dog,” said Christine Rutter, a clinical assistant
professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine &
Biomedical Sciences. “Coyotes are very effective predators.
Pets that come to our emergency room after a coyote attack often
have severe injuries.”
Because coyote bites have the potential to cause severe body and
organ damage, Rutter recommends that every pet that is attacked by
a coyote, bobcat, or an unknown animal be evaluated by a
veterinarian as soon as possible. Owners should not attempt to
address wounds at home.
A bite from a wild animal also poses another threat—the spread
of potential diseases, such as rabies.
“We don’t often think of the coyote as a major vector of rabies,
but it is possible,” Rutter said. “However, the most common
carriers for rabies are raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats.
“Thankfully, most pets have had a recent rabies vaccination,
which will protect them from this virus,” she said. “However,
saliva in the pet’s wounds can expose people who are not commonly
vaccinated for rabies to the virus. I always recommend that owners
wear gloves when handling pets that have been attacked by a wild or
potentially unvaccinated animal.”
While humans might not be able to control the behavior of wild
animals, pet owners can take steps toward protecting pets from
“Coyotes and other wild animals thrive in urban and suburban
environments due to the availability of food and shelter provided
by people,” Rutter explained. “It seems that the only thing we can
really do is to limit access to these resources. I recommend that
people secure food sources, including trash, compost, outdoor pet
food, and wildlife feeders. I would also be sure that outbuildings
are secure and don’t make comfortable homes for wildlife.”
Since many wild animals, including coyotes, are most active from
dusk till dawn, keeping pets safe during this time is crucial.
“Keeping pets indoors during this time seems the most obvious
choice, but it’s not realistic in some situations,” Rutter said. “I
recommend that pets be limited to a fenced area or leash walked. I
would also have a good outdoor light, visually check the yard, and
make a bit of noise before pets are allowed
outside. Especially at night, it’s important to supervise your
pets when they are outside. Pets of any size can find trouble, but
pets under 50 pounds are especially vulnerable.”
If your pet primarily resides outdoors, a completely enclosed
kennel with a roof may also be an effective way to keep unwanted
“Ventilation holes in the kennel should be small enough to keep
out any animal larger than a rat, and the kennel should be large
enough that the confined animal should be able to at least stand
up, turn around, and escape any water accumulation on the floor,”
Webcams and security systems can also help you monitor your yard
at both day and night.
We can’t predict the behavior of wild critters, but we can take
steps to lessen the chance that our pet comes in contact with a
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine
& Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be
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