Wild Predators To Be Wary Of When You Own A Small Dog

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey
Credit: Shutterstock / Michael Heimlich

Owning a small dog is a great joy that can often be much easier than owning a large dog. They take up less space on the bed, there is less hair to vacuum, and less poop to clean up. There are lots of benefits to choosing a smaller pooch over a larger one. But a small dog is also more vulnerable. There might even be nearby wild predators that you need to be cautious of when you let your small dog outside.

If you have a small dog, you need to be wary of nighttime predators like coyotes, wolves, and mountain lions. Other animals that can attack small dogs include bears, alligators, hawks, and snakes. Be aware of predators that live in your area and never leave your animal unattended outside. Keep your pet on a leash, especially at night, and consider building a safe enclosure for your small dog.

If you have a small dog, you need to take a few extra precautions to keep them safe. This is because there are a few wild animals that are more likely to attack and even kill a small dog. The good news is there are also lots of ways to keep these potentially harmful animals far away from your treasured pet. Keep reading to learn more about common predators that can attack small dogs, and how to keep them away from your pet.

Common Wild Animals To Be Wary Of When Owning A Small Dog

1. Coyotes

One of the most common predators that poses a threat to small dogs and cats alike is the coyote. The coyote is native to North America and is a member of the canine family. It is smaller than a wolf, but its sharp teeth and wild disposition make it a predator to be aware of.

Coyotes are usually afraid of humans and even larger dogs, but they can attack cats and small dogs. This is particularly true in more suburban areas where there is less live game for them to hunt.

2. Snakes

Snakes are located in nearly every part of the world. Many snakes are harmless, but some snakes are lethal when they bite. Some of these lethal snakes can kill a curious small dog.

Rattlesnakes, cottonmouth snakes, and copperhead snakes are just a few common types that can kill a small dog. There is a rattlesnake vaccine dogs can take that can prove life-saving if your dog is bitten by one of these deadly reptiles.

3. Hawks

You might think that if you have a fence, then you don’t need to worry about predators attacking your dog. There are, however, predators that can attack from the sky. Hawks are common birds of prey throughout the world, and they are known to scoop up all sorts of small animals.

While hawks can’t attack and pick up a larger dog, very small dogs, typically five pounds or less, are vulnerable to hawk attacks. Make sure you don’t leave your small dog unattended in areas where hawks are spotted.

4. Bears

Bears were once a rare sight in populated areas. But as humans continue to develop in their habitat, and wildfires force them to move, bears are being seen more and more in the suburbs. Most bears won’t attack humans or even dogs for no reason.

But if a dog is curious, or is anywhere near a bear’s cub, or even its food, then a bear can attack. Even a barking small dog can set off a bear. If there has been a bear sighting in your area, make sure your dog is always kept on a leash, until the bears have gone far away.

5. Wolves

Wolves are another wild species that have been spotted more and more lately. A loss of habitat and also protection of this almost-extinct popular North American animal has made their presence more common.

Wolves are fairly reclusive, but they can certainly attack a dog — big or small. Wolves are typically larger than the average dog and dangerous.

6. Mountain Lions

Mountain lions might be a wondrous sight to behold, but they are very dangerous for all pets, and humans as well. These massive felines are found throughout the Western United States and in Western Canada as well. They have made a comeback since becoming nearly extinct.

These cats are reclusive, but if a dog or human wanders into their territory, they can attack. Small dogs can also be prey. These animals are most active at dawn and dusk, so be particularly cautious at these times.

7. Alligators

If you live in a swamp area and have a dog, you need to be very cautious when you let it outside. Alligators are elusive creatures that are often hard to spot due to their statuesque nature. They will eat most small animals, including dogs and cats.

Small dogs are particularly vulnerable, as they are unlikely to put up much of a fight, and even medium and small alligators can take down a small dog.

8. Racoons

Lastly, you must keep an eye out for raccoons. While raccoons rarely attack dogs, when they do, it can be quite traumatic. Raccoons are very common animals throughout North America and beyond. They might be cute to look at but they can also be very dangerous.

Their claws can slice up a dog very badly, causing life-threatening injuries to small dogs. This usually only happens when the raccoon feels threatened, but this can happen when a dog is overly curious. Raccoons can also carry rabies, which is something to note as well when you see one, especially in the daylight.

Tips For Keeping Your Small Dog Safe From Nearby Predators

Keep Your Dog On A Leash, Especially At Night

Most predators hunt at night. This means your small dog is most vulnerable to attacks after the sun goes down. Coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, and others all do their hunting at night. Animals like alligators and snakes are also hard to see. Keeping your dog close to you on a leash keeps it from wandering far off and close to a hungry predator.

Don’t Leave The Animal Unattended

It might be your habit to let your dog roam freely in your fenced-in yard but don’t make a habit of this. Small dogs are much more vulnerable to attack when they are left alone. If a predator sees a human, they are less likely to attack a small dog, as most predators are wary of people.

Build A Safe Enclosure For Your Pet

Creating a full-proof enclosure by installing your own fence is a good way to keep your pet safe from predators while outside. The key is making sure your enclosure will keep out all the potential predators you have. If snakes are a problem, you may need wire fencing below and above ground. Regularly walk the perimeter of the enclosure to check for vulnerabilities.

Know What Predators Live In Your Area

There is a common saying — “know your enemy.” Make sure you are aware of which predators live in your area. Find out if these animals are known to attack dogs, and learn more about their habits. Knowing what they like and don’t like can help you keep these potentially dangerous predators away from your yard and your pet.

Install Motion Sensor Lights

Another great way to keep predators out of your yard, especially at night, is by installing motion sensor lights. Motion sensor lights are great deterrents for animals and thieves alike. As soon as an animal triggers one of these lights, not only will it be alarmed, but you will also know something is moving outside.

Read Message Boards For Wildlife Sightings

Most communities have a Facebook group or online community message board. This is often a good place to read about animal sightings, including predator sightings. Keep tabs on these message boards, so you can have a heads-up if a predator has been spotted nearby.

Summing Up Predators That Are A Threat To Your Small Dog

Having a small dog has lots of perks, but there are some extra safety concerns you need to be aware of. One of the top things to be wary of when you have a small dog is wild predators that can pose a threat to small dogs. Animals like coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, bears, snakes, alligators, hawks, and even raccoons can all endanger your pet. Keep your dog on a leash at night, never leave it unattended, and make sure you are aware of any recent predator sightings in your area.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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