Dog with his head down an animal hole in the ground

PROTECTING PETS FROM OUTDOOR WILDLIFE AND PESTS

11/26/16

As responsible pet owners, we take extra precautions to keep our animals safe, like putting them on preventive medications to keep fleas and ticks at bay. We also make sure they’re taking heartworm medicine, but this doesn’t stop them from being bitten by mosquitoes or having a run in with wildlife. 

Better Safe Than Sorry

Often when we think of a term like “wildlife,” we image enormous beasts covered with hair, teeth snarling and claw bearing animals, but in the case of mosquitoes, their bite is worse than their buzz. Fortunately, when it comes to these flying menaces, some places in Canada are worse than others when it comes to these disease carrying insects. Thankfully though, the Zika virus isn’t much of a threat this far north.

You can still do your part to stop mosquitoes from forming in the first place by getting rid of standing water on your property and around your neighborhood:

●     Report abandoned or neglected swimming pools in your area to your local Health Dept.

●     If you have a pool or hot tub, make sure it’s properly maintained.

●     Be sure to wash out birdbaths every few days.

●     Puncture or dispose of used tires in your yard.

It’s also recommended that you keep grass and shrubs neatly trimmed which helps prevent adult mosquitoes from lurking in them for shade and protection from the elements.

Bigger Problems

Depending on where you live, your pet shouldn’t be in too much danger from wild animals, but even in city and suburban settings, they’re still at risk from run-ins with rodents, raccoons, skunks, coyotes and other critters that can carry dangerous diseases or could cause them injuries. While cages or humane traps are certainly an option, similar to the mosquito conundrum presented previously, the best way to deal with these bigger pests is to make your property less inhabitable for them.

They say that music soothes the savage beast, but playing tunes inside your home or on your property discourages these mostly nocturnal creatures from nesting nearby. You can also:

●     Keep trash can lids tightly closed, secured and store them in a garage or other outbuilding if possible.

●     If you have a garage or outbuilding, keep the doors to these locations closed at all times and regularly check for holes or other possible entry points.

●     Cover compost piles (as recommended) to help keep critters away.

●     Clean up areas underneath bird feeders and fruit trees to prevent free food from piling up.

●     Keep hedges and bushes trimmed.

If you have a fenced yard, regularly check the perimeter for loose boards, holes, cracks, broken or faulty hinges, latches and any other ways these critters could be accessing your property.

Close Encounters

On the off chance you do encounter a critter when you’re with your animal, whether you’re out for a walk or somewhere on your property, if you have a smaller animal, pick them up to better protect them from harm. You should also make yourself appear as large as possible and don’t turn your back on them - keep eye contact - as this will seem threatening to them.

Don’t be afraid to fight back if they don’t back off - they’re likely more afraid of you than you are of them. If they don’t retreat immediately, make some noise, yell and scream or wave your arm (or arms) about. This should be enough to alarm them, but if they don’t flee, look around for a rock or stick you could throw near them – not at them.

For the most part, wildlife shouldn’t be a problem for you or your pets, but there’s no reason you can’t be prepared to deal with them if it happens. As mentioned previously, a good defense makes an excellent approach to ensuring pets and wildlife can coexists with no issues.

This article was written by Amber Kingsley. Amber is a freelance journalist and member of a pet enthusiast/animal lover group in her city of Santa Monica whom has donated countless hours supporting her local shelter within operations and outreach.  She has spent most of her research writing about animals; food, health and training.