Keeping your Pets Safe from Wildlife

Tuki Talks

Hi Friends – Tuki here from my perch at the Potter League. It’s been pretty quiet here at the Potter League without all the volunteers and adoptive families coming in, but hopefully that will change soon! 

With the weather starting to improve, many of you are enjoying the outdoors with your pets and some of the local wildlife is likely to be out there enjoying spring too! When I say ‘wildlife’, I mean the 4-legged kind living in woods and fields. If you want your pet to avoid the other kind of ‘wild life’, don’t let them go to parties alone! 

Here are some general tips to keep you and your pet safe from wildlife. 

  • Keep your cats indoors.
  • Walk your dog on a leash so you can control and protect them. If you have a small dog, you may be able to pick them up if you encounter another animal. 
  • Make sure your garbage cans have secure lids or use a bungee cord to fasten the lid so the garbage doesn’t attract scavengers like raccoons. After all, who doesn’t like leftovers!
  • Don’t feed your pets outside. Even if your pet eats all his food, there are likely to be small food pieces left on the ground that can attract wild animals. 
  • Some animals are attracted by vegetable gardens (it’s a free salad bar!) so if you have one, be sure it is fenced and covered if needed. 
  • If you want to let your pet out, be sure you have a securely fenced yard. Some wild animals are persistent about getting in, but a good fence is a deterrent for most.
  • Pet waste can attract some wild animals so clean your yard regularly. 
  • If you see a wild animal, make noise to scare them away and give them enough room to get away. If a wild animal approaches you, face the animal and slowly back away.

Local Wildlife

Coyotes. Coyotes have lived in Rhode Island for more than 50 years and can be beneficial because they help control the rodent population. Coyotes may attack cats or small dogs in their own yards, so keep your cats indoors and watch your dogs if they are outside, particularly at dawn and dusk when most attacks occur. If you see a coyote, making loud noises such as shouting, using a whistle or air horn may scare them away. Female coyotes typically give birth in March or April and make their dens in holes dug into embankments or under dense brush, so if you walk in a wooded area with your pet, you may want to keep to pathways to avoid a protective mama coyote. 

Deer. Deer aren’t generally dangerous but during rutting season (typically, the fall), a buck may attack a pet that gets too close. Deer can be carriers of Lyme disease which can be transmitted to dogs through a tick bite so be sure and check your dog for ticks after being outside. Cats can also get Lyme disease, but it is rare. 

Raccoons. Raccoons will typically avoid confrontation and run away if possible, but they will attack if they feel threatened or cornered. When they attack, they will try to scratch the other animal’s eyes so it cannot see to defend itself. They have very sharp claws and teeth which can cause serious injuries. Most attacks happen at night so if you let your pet out in the yard at night, be sure the area is well-lit which can scare off any raccoons in the area. Raccoons can be infected with or carriers of rabies so be sure your pet’s immunizations are up to date. 

Opossums. Like raccoons, opossums or ‘possums mostly come out at night to look for food. Typically, when confronted with a person or another animal, ‘possums will react by playing dead (you’ve heard the epression ‘playing ‘possum, right?). If that doesn’t work or they feel threatened enough they can attack, and they have razor-sharp teeth. Rabies is rare in ‘possums but they do carry other diseases that can be spread to pets or humans. 

Foxes. Foxes are not aggressive towards people or pets, except chickens, so if you have chickens be sure that you have a well-constructed chicken coop to protect them. Foxes only use a den when they have pups which is usually between April and June. They may make a den under a shed or in dense brush and once the pups are off on their own, the foxes don’t come back to the den. Foxes can carry rabies, canine distemper and mange, which is transmitted by a mite, so it is best to avoid them and be sure your dog is immunized.  

Hope you are all staying safe and healthy, 

Your friend, 


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