In many areas, coyotes present a risk to pets, especially small dogs and cats who go outside. Here are my tips on keeping your pets safe.
Q: When I’m walking my dog through a parkway near my home, we occasionally see coyotes. We have had a couple of small dogs killed by them in their own yards. Judging by the “lost cat” signs I see, I suspect they’ve taken a few of them, too. Is there any way to protect our pets?
A: Coyotes are everywhere, and they’ve learned that household pets are relatively easy prey. Coyotes are plentiful in suburban areas across the United States, and have even been reported in New York City and other highly urban environments.
Free-roaming cats seem to be especially at risk. Many times, missing cats or the gruesome finding of feline remains is initially thought to be the work of sadistic cat-haters, but often these apparent “crime sprees” turn out to be the work of neighborhood coyotes. Keeping cats safely inside is the only way to completely protect them.
Small dogs are often targets of hungry coyotes as well, and for these pets, it’s important to be sure to supervise them in your yard — especially if you back up to a wooded area, golf course or other potentially coyote-rich environment. When walking small dogs, don’t let them off-leash. Larger dogs are less at risk, but not completely safe, and it wouldn’t hurt to keep a leash and close eye on them as well.
To discourage coyotes from colonizing your neighborhood, work with neighbors to remove food sources that attract these predators, such as pet food left outside, garbage cans that aren’t securely closed or compost piles that are not correctly maintained. If food sources are denied, the animals will move on to a more promising area.
While none of these steps will completely protect your pets, they will reduce the risk from these ever-more-common predators.
There’s more – including nail trim tips – in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.