Tips for Protecting Your Pet From Coyotes & Wildlife Predators

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When you and your furry friend share the great outdoors with wildlife, knowing how to protect your pet from coyotes and other predators is a necessity. Cats are much easier than dogs to protect: just keep them indoors. But as both are susceptible to predatory animals, knowing how to protect your dog from hawks and other birds of prey can help you keep your feline companion safe, too.

Why Household Pets Should Avoid Wildlife

Depending on where you live, your pet may encounter all sorts of critters, from coyotes and hawks to porcupines and skunks. If these interactions go sour, your dog or cat could sustain a physical injury. Additionally, pets who are attacked and bitten by a wild animal can acquire diseases such as rabies or a host of other diseases that wildlife can carry. Additionally, animals caught in a struggle with wildlife could sustain trauma as well as higher potential for death.

Knowing how to protect your pet from coyotes and other wildlife can help you keep them safe and secure. No matter their shape and size, any dog or cat who goes outside will need to be safeguarded against predators, whether that's during leashed walks or when they're just hanging out in your yard.

Protecting Cats From Wildlife

Although cats are predators, they're also prey. Simply stated, the best way to protect your cat from wildlife is to keep them indoors. "There are many risks outdoors that can shorten your cat's life span," explains Best Friends Animal Society, and one of these is predators. Keeping your cat indoors also preserves wildlife upon which cats prey, like songbirds and rabbits.

A cat with an orange collar stares out window with reflection looking back.Training your cat to walk on a leash allows them to get some fresh air safely; however, it's strongly recommended that you keep your cat indoors. There are so many ways you can enrich your cat's indoor environment, such as building them a catio. Consider adding wall decals that bring outdoor elements indoors, so your cat can reap the benefits of being in nature without all the risks.

Protecting Dogs From Wildlife

Because they're generally outside more often than cats, dogs are more likely to encounter wildlife and, therefore, are more at risk of dangerous run-ins. Here are some ways to keep your beloved fur baby safe:

Avoid Dusk and Dawn

Woman walking a jack russell terrier dog through autumn leaves on a forest trail.These are the prime hunting times for a lot of animals — especially coyotes, points out Rover — so try to avoid walking your dog at dusk and dawn. If they must go out, don't let them run loose. Keep your dog on a leash at all times and close to your body. Coyotes can also be active during the day, so you'll always want to be on alert.

Invest in Fencing

Good fences make good neighbors, so the saying goes, and they provide a comfortable distance between you and unwanted visitors. But what about visitors who scale fences and dig under them? To better deter these unwelcome guests, your protective fence should be at least 6 feet high and no less than 18 inches under the ground.

Outfitting your barrier with motion sensor lights and barbed wire along the top can provide even more protection, advises the American Kennel Club, however keep in mind that all this may do is injure the wildlife, or worse, your pet. A pet enclosure with a roof is a good option too, but if you can't supervise your pet, it's best to keep them indoors where it's safe.

Tidy Up Your Yard

How to protect your dog from hawks swooping into your yard? Step one: Make this space as unappealing to them as possible. Clear away nesting materials like sticks and dried brush, and remove all bird feeders. This cleanup will also deter creatures like porcupines.

The Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences also recommends the following tips:

  • Pick up all pet feces — coyotes are territorial and are attracted to poop.
  • Discard leftover food and water in outdoor pet bowls.
  • Secure garbage can lids.
  • Keep a walking stick or rocks on hand to throw in the direction of predators.

If you do encounter a coyote, "Stand your ground, wave your arms, make loud noises and/or throw objects toward (but not at) the coyote to scare the animal away," advises the Montreal SPCA. This advice applies to any predator encounter, but there's one thing you should never do: run. No matter the predator, they will translate your sprint as an invitation to chase you down.

Exploring the outdoors with your pet can be a truly rewarding experience, so long as you keep predators at bay. By following these recommended precautions, you can ensure your cat or dog stays safe from hawks, coyotes and all of nature's wild creatures.

Contributor Bio

Christine O'Brien

Christine O'Brien

Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time cat parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about pets, pregnancy, and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien.