Pets and Wildlife Encounters

When spending time outdoors, it is important to be aware of wildlife and the potential threat to your pets. We have been astounded by headlines announcing alligator attacks in Florida or similar reports of bobcat attacks, coyote attacks, and even attacks by moose. These news stories are wake-up calls to owners on the issues of pet safety when it comes to encounters in the wild.

When wild animals feel threatened, they are going to react. Owners must be mindful of their surroundings and practice safety for pets when out and about in nature.


Do Research Before Leaving the House

Do research before heading out. It enhances both your and your dog’s enjoyment to know what you might find while out in nature, and to know how you might want to behave in certain situations while not impacting the environment. Keep in mind – wild animals need space!


Keep Control of Your Dog

It is important to use a dog leash when hiking. Dogs should always be under voice control and recall, as well on a leash if there is wildlife in the area. No matter where you are, be prepared and know what to do if you run into some of the regional wildlife.

For the most part, wild animals prefer to avoid conflict, so the behaviors we display can mitigate possible problems. Keep your dog from provoking them, under control, and close to you at all times. This prevents the risk factor of injury and prevents your dog from harassing the wildlife. In many places, it is not only dangerous but illegal for animals who are domestic to harass wildlife.


First Aid Kit and Emergency Care

If your dog happens to be injured in an encounter, be prepared and treat the wound like you would at home, or for yourself. Something we should all do is keep a dog first aid kit on hand while we hike with our pet.  Items such as tweezers, cold packs, sting relief pads, disposable gloves, and pet first aid booklets should be in these kits. In case it is necessary to flush any wounds or apply bandages, having the first aid kit available is essential. Furthermore, a splint should be included in a backcountry kit.

An antimicrobial spray for wound and skincare which kills most strains of bacteria as well as fungi, viruses and spores, should also be available in the first aid kit. For cleaning wounds, this spray contains no alcohol and is similar to a saline solution. There are also some gels that can reduce bleeding and seal wounds. They contain bioactive collagen, which enables the skin to heal naturally.

Severe wounds could mean a trip to the emergency vet clinic. Know where the location of the clinic is before you start hiking in case the clinic is far away and you need to be prepared for a long journey back.


Up-To-Date Vaccines

Besides the obvious problem of injuries, wildlife encounters may also carry the danger of disease. Your pet’s vaccinations should be up-to-date for both distemper and rabies. Sometimes diseases and intestinal parasites, like roundworms, are transmitted to both humans and dogs while hiking in wooded areas. 


Deter Wildlife Around the Home

Tall fences in the yard are suggested to keep your dog safe as they deter most wildlife. If you live in areas where wildlife is a problem, a 6-foot fence keeps out bears, coyotes, wolves, and moose.

Bungee cords around the trash can might deter raccoons, but bigger wildlife like bears can rip through bungee cords. There are bear-resistant trash cans, but it is also recommended to put trash cans out for collection on the morning of pick up, rather than letting them sit overnight.

Do not store food of any kind outdoors in any region, any time of year. As much as we might enjoy watching birds eat, bird feeders are bear feeders. And you may want to think twice about keeping a compost pile if you live in a wildlife area. Compost piles are very attractive to most animals!

Keep cats and other small pets indoors, keep your dog on a leash and never let your pets play outdoors without your supervision. This allows everyone to respect and enjoy wildlife from the best perspective – which is at a distance.

You and your pet need to have a healthy respect for the wildlife around you. You can do this by following the suggestions above and remaining calm while you encounter wildlife. If you do encounter wildlife, act accordingly. 



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