coyote populations are on the rise - here's how to keep your pets safe

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Woman and dog sitting together in canyon | How to protect your dog from coyotes
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Jul 27 2015

The coyote population in the United States is likely its highest so far, due in part to their combination of tenacity and cleverness. And, it doesn’t hurt that they’ll eat anything. This is good for the coyotes, but decidedly bad for those who share a coyote’s territory. This includes your house pets, and sometimes even you!

Tiny was one such pet who had an unfortunate encounter with the neighborhood coyote. The 13-pound Chihuahua mix was outside his home in Brea, CA when the coyote came by, but he certainly held his own against the big bad desert dog. Tiny scampered away with only a bite to his front paw. The run-in ended up costing him a toe, and a sizable vet bill for the amputation, but it could’ve been much worse. Tiny’s family was reimbursed $1,442 for his stay at the vet’s, and luckily he’s back on all four paws.

Coyotes will make quick work of small dogs and cats, and if they are hunting in packs, they can even prove a formidable foe for a large dog, too. Coyote attacks can occur year round at any time of day. Think your pets are safe because you’re in the city? Think again. These rascals have infiltrated almost every part of the United States, with organized colonies present even in large cities, like Los Angeles.

10 tips to protect your pets from coyotes

If you live in an area prone to coyote attacks, pay close attention to the following tips. 

1. Keep cats and small dogs inside, especially at night.

2. Keep pet food and trash cans indoors, if possible. If they must be stored outdoors, make sure they are secured in a container with a tight fitting lid. Trash and food attract rodents, which attract coyotes.

3. Install motion-sensitive lights. These can spook unwanted predators away.

4. Female dogs in heat will attract male coyotes. Be particularly vigilant about keeping dogs who are in season inside.

5. Install a proper fence. Coyotes can easily scale a five foot fence. Coyote-proof your fence by making sure it’s at least six feet tall and angled at the top (45 degrees is perfect) to prevent intruders. Bury it 12-18 inches to avoid diggers.

6. If you have fruit trees, pick up all fallen fruit and pick low fruit as soon as it is ripe. Fruit trees can attract coyotes for an easy meal.

7. Walk your pets on a short leash. Coyotes who are accustomed to humans will think nothing of snatching your precious pooch from long lead. Keeping your buddy close to your body will help keep him safe from attacks.

8. Coyotes don’t like sudden movements or loud noises. Walk with a whistle to blow if needed. Carrying an umbrella to open up is another option, but don’t be so preoccupied with getting it open to scare a coyote that it distracts you from a potentially dangerous situation.

9. Of course, NEVER approach or feed coyotes.

10. Close off crawl spaces under your house or porch. These hidden spots provide a place for coyotes to rest and build dens for raising young. You’ll definitely want to avoid that!

Coyotes are doing well for themselves—don’t let that be at your family’s expense!