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Health & Wellness

Tips for keeping your dog safe when coexisting with coyotes

It’s important to keep your dog safe while respecting wildlife.

Backyards give dogs the chance to run free without their leash while in a secure location. And you may feel comfortable knowing that your pup won’t escape from their personal dog run, but you should be aware of other animals, like coyotes, that can come into your backyard and pose dangerous risks for your pup. 

Are coyotes dangerous?

Coyotes, like all other animals, take part in a food chain. Unfortunately, their need for food can sometimes have dangerous consequences for domestic pets, like cats and dogs. 

“Due to habitat loss and a decline in food sources, coyotes venture into neighborhoods,” Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, says. “When this happens, small dogs and cats can become their prey.”

Although coyotes are native to the Western United States, they’ve spread to every state except Hawaii, she adds. And this animal can adapt to and thrive in most environments (including urban areas). 

Protecting your pets from becoming coyotes’ prey isn’t the only thing you should be concerned with. “Coyotes can carry and transmit parasites and diseases like rabies, distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, mange, fleas, intestinal parasites, ticks and leptospirosis,” Dr. McCullough explains.

While coyotes pose a risk to pets’ safety, there are some ways to protect your pets so the two animals can coexist in peaceful harmony. 

RELATED: Ticks on dogs: types, how to remove them and prevention

How to protect your dog from coyotes

The thought of coyote attacks is overwhelming and scary, but there are some simple ways to lower the chance of coyotes bothering your pets. Here are some tips from Dr. McCullough: 

  • Keep your pets inside when you can’t monitor them (especially at night).
  • Pet food and trash cans should be stored indoors. If you keep your trash cans outside, ensure the lid is secured as trash welcomes rodents, which brings coyotes.
  • Coyotes don’t like sudden movements or loud noises. Keep whistles or bells near your backyard (or with you while walking your dog), and consider installing motion-sensitive lights. 
  • Install a coyote-proof fence, which is usually over 6 feet tall and angled at the top. 
  • If your female pup is in heat, keep her inside or monitor her while outside, as her condition may attract male coyotes. 
  • Pick low-hanging fruit from trees in your backyard, as this can be food for coyotes. 
  • Walk your pup on a short leash and keep them near you while on your walks. 
  • Close off open spaces (like underneath your porch) as these can be hiding places for coyotes and even act as their dens. 
  • Never approach or feed a coyote. 

Coyote vests for dogs

Some accessories, like a coyote vest, can add an extra protection against coyote attacks. “Coyote vests are kevlar vests made for dogs that have spikes or spines along the back that are meant to deter coyotes from grabbing a dog,” Dr. McCullough explains. You can usually find these vests at pet stores or online. 

How to scare away coyotes

Coyotes, like other animals, are scared of things, too. Loud noises, like whistles, bells and horns, can scare away coyotes, Dr. McCullough shares. So if you spot a coyote nearby, bring out your loudest object. 

What to do if a coyote attacks your dog

If a coyote attacks your dog, visit your emergency veterinary hospital or primary veterinary office as soon as possible, Dr. McCullough urges. It’s also wise to have a pet emergency preparedness plan in place so you’re ready to act fast during unexpected scenarios. Here are some tips to get you started: 

  • Write down the phone numbers for poison control, local 24-hour emergency pet hospitals and animal ambulances in your area.
  • Put together a pet emergency kit including latex gloves, an information card with your vet’s address and phone number and towels.
  • Practice for emergencies by familiarizing your pet with riding in the car.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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