Can wild animals harm your pets?

Nuisance animals around and inside of our homes can be annoying and destructive, but we usually aren’t too worried they are going to sneak up on us in the middle of the night. As a general rule, animals in your home are looking for safety, food and quiet, and they aren’t going to jeopardize that by being too close to human inhabitants.

The same cannot be said for pets in the household, however. A different relationship exists between wild animals and house pets. To a raccoon out in the yard, a dog is just as much of a threat as a wild coyote. And to a dog, a raccoon can be viewed as everything from a playmate to a snack to a territorial threat. Cats, as carnivores, offer the same innate threat to a wild animal, and the likelihood wild animals are eating pet food just means this dynamic often leads to a number of pet-wildlife confrontations.

What happens if a wild animal attacks my pet?

But can a wild animal harm your pet? Absolutely. If your pet, even just being playful, investigates a woodchuck hole under the porch, he may get attacked by the woodchuck defending its home. Even the smallest of home invaders can leave a painful injury on a house pet, and larger animals can sometimes kill a cat or a small dog. Physical injuries from a wild animal, even when minor, require a trip to a veterinary office where the pet can receive a booster vaccination against the viral disease, rabies.

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Rabies is a fatal disease transmitted from one infected animal to another, generally through a bite wound. It is classified as a zoonotic disease, which means humans can get this virus from another species of animal. If your house pet is infected with rabies after battling nuisance wildlife, the pet will have to be euthanized, and you will need to visit your own doctor to receive preventative inoculations.

There are a number of other diseases house pets can come in contact with after confronting a wild animal. Leptospirosis is another potentially lethal infection that attacks the kidneys and internal organs, transmitted through contact with infected urine. In this situation, your pet doesn’t even need to physically interact with a wild animal; just smelling or coming in contact with infected urine can result in disease.

How can I keep my pets safe?

So how do you keep your pets safe? The only way is to make sure wild animals stay out in the wild. While some house pets have “street smarts” and know better than to investigate holes around the yard or sounds in the attic, animals are curious by nature, and many house pets lack the instincts to avoid potentially harmful situations. You can keep pets under lock and key, but it’s their home, and it’s a shame they have to suffer because a nuisance animal has moved in. But because you can never tell when a wild animal is going to move into your space, there are some preventative things you can do to protect your pet.

First and foremost, make sure pets are vaccinated. That way, if they do tangle with a furry invader, they have as much protection as possible against life-threatening illnesses. Next, make sure pet food isn’t left out where it might tempt a wild animal. Many nuisance wildlife situations occur because food is easily accessible. Finally, keep a watchful eye out for signs wildlife might be interested in your property. If you can catch the problem early, a wild animal might be encouraged to move on to a new location before it does any damage to your home or yard.

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