We all love our pets and want to protect them however we can. That includes helping keep them safe from the rodents and nuisance wildlife they may encounter when spending time outdoors.

cat food

Whether you live in an urban, suburban or rural area, you are closer to nuisance wildlife than you might realize. Like all animals, their search for food, water and shelter can bring nuisance wildlife onto your property. While many of these animals — raccoons, mice and rats — may be anything but exotic, they can pose a serious threat to your pets. Fortunately, taking a few simple preventive measures can help provide your pets with an extra level of protection. Below are some helpful tips from our rodent and wildlife professionals that you can implement at home.

Keep Your Pet’s Vaccinations Current

Be sure to consult with your veterinarian about any regular or additional vaccines your pet can receive to help protect him or her against disease pathogens carried by wild animals. Also, ticks and fleas can be associated with nuisance wildlife as they can be brought into your yard by these animals. So you’ll also want to consult with your vet about keeping your pets current on tick and flea prevention.

Don’t Leave Pet Food Outside

Strange as it may seem, perhaps you've caught mice eating cat food. Or you've noticed raccoons eating the cat or dog food you've set out on your patio or porch. Pet foods don't only appeal to pets. Omnivorous animals like raccoons, mice, rats and skunks enjoy both dry and wet foods as much as your pets do. Don't leave a meal out waiting for them. If you feed your pets outside, clean up after them and remove any leftovers as soon as possible. It’s also important to keep pet food in a sealed container so that nuisance wildlife won’t be able to smell it. And whenever possible, bring your pet food and water inside at night.

Try to Not Leave Your Pets Outside Unsupervised

Always keep an eye on your cat or dog if you know of any wildlife animals in the area. When letting your pet out, scan the yard to make sure there isn't already a wildlife animal there, as your pet may try to run towards it, potentially putting itself into danger. And if you do leave your dog or cat outside, occasionally check to make sure a wild animal hasn't found its way into your yard, as it could cause a disturbance.

Make Your Property Unattractive to Nuisance Wildlife

Clean up brush piles and other debris that might serve as nesting or hiding places for nuisance wildlife. Cut back any tall grasses. If you have fruit or nut trees on your property, pick up any ripened items that have fallen to the ground. These things can attract rodents like rats and mice. Use wire or some other barrier to close off openings along the bottom of your fencing to help keep predators from crawling into your yard. Make sure all your outdoor garbage receptacles are tightly sealed. Raccoons in particular love to forage through the trash. They’re smart and can open lids and knock trashcans over. You should consider keeping your trashcans inside something like a garage or shed until right before the trash is going to be picked up.

Bonus Tip: Assemble a First Aid Kit

You probably already have a first aid kit for your family, and it’s a good idea to have one for your pets in case of an incident, such as a wild animal attack. The American Veterinary Medical Association has a list of items that should be in this first aid kit, including pet specific items like:

  1. Emergency phone numbers (veterinarian, emergency vet, etc)
  2. Muzzle
  3. Leash

It also includes basic first-aid items like:

  1. Gauze
  2. Adhesive tape
  3. Hydrogen peroxide (3%)

Note: If there is an incident and your pet is hurt, your first action should always be to try to get your pet to your veterinarian or an emergency clinic.