pets and wildlife encounters in MassachusettsA viral video is making the rounds of a Northern Massachusetts man who was startled awake by a bear while lounging by the pool in his backyard. Many people underestimate the variety of wildlife that can be found in New England and often get caught off-guard by what they see. The same holds true for our pets. Outdoor cats that roam the neighborhood and dogs put out in the backyard for the night can experience a lot of wildlife encounters that we never even know occurred. This is one of the many reasons why an annual veterinary check-up and regular vaccinations can be essential to the health and well-being of your pet. Seeking out the support of a Southeastern Massachusetts veterinarian for preventive treatments can be the best thing you can do for quality vet care for cats and dogs. Fleas, ticks, and heartworm are just the beginning; there is also rabies and other wildlife-spread concerns that pet owners need to be aware of and keep an eye out for in their pets.

What Wild Animals Can Be Found in Massachusetts?

While the state is quite diverse in the type of wildlife that can be found, depending on the region, most New Englanders are aware that populations of deer, coyotes, bear, moose, and bobcat are on the rise. However, not all can be regularly found in the South Coast area throughout the year. Other wildlife that may or may not be in your area include foxes, beavers, bats, raccoons, skunks, opossums, snakes, turkeys, and fishers. These animals do very well living side-by-side with humans and frequently have interactions with pets. Rabies, parasitic pests, and other diseases aside, a seemingly simple wildlife encounter can end up with both animals getting seriously hurt. While there is no foolproof method to keep wild animals off your property and away from your pets, there are things that you can do to prevent them from wanting to come to your home. The more you can do to make your property unattractive to wild animals, the better it will be for everyone involved.

Tips for making your home less likely to attract wild animals:

  • Don’t feed the wildlife – this includes birds and squirrels, as feeding activity can attract bigger animals.
  • Keep all trash picked up and put away – many wildlife species are attracted to human waste materials.
  • Seal your compost container properly to prevent wildlife from being able to get into it.
  • Never feed pets outdoors or store pet food outdoors, as this will bring wildlife to your door.
  • Secure your pets and don’t allow them to roam, as they are seen as potential prey for coyotes and other predators.
  • Close off crawl spaces under sheds and porches to prevent wild animals from creating a den.
  • Protect livestock and garden areas, making sure to clear any fallen fruit from fruit trees.
  • Share information with neighbors – let them know about these tips to reduce wildlife in your neighborhood.

What to Do if Your Pet Encounters Wildlife

Even small wild animals can be dangerous to your pet, so it is essential to pay attention to what is going on in your backyard or to only allow your pet outdoors when you can be there to supervise. Encounters with squirrels, woodchucks, and snakes can result in a whole host of veterinary complications, especially if your pet gets bit. Dogs that attack and eat wild rodents can also become quite sick very quickly, requiring emergency attention at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth. If you suspect that your pet has come in contact with wildlife or has been in a fight with other domesticated animals, such as cats or dogs, contact your Southeastern Massachusetts veterinarian right away. The sooner you can get your pet in for a veterinary check-up and evaluation, the better. Learn how to avoid wild animals in your local areas, such as coyotes or skunks, which often run into humans and pets during dawn or dusk walks around the block.

ATTENTION: If your dog or cat has been bitten by a wild animal, such as a squirrel, raccoon, or opossum, do not touch your pet with your bare hands. Most people are unaware that rabies can be transmitted directly through the saliva of the infected animal. If your pet still has saliva on their fur or around the location of the bite, it could infect you as well if you touch it. Contact your local Animal Control agency and your trusted veterinarian right away for instructions on how to handle the situation. Even if you aren’t sure that your pet has been bitten and want to get an evaluation after a fight or encounter with wildlife, contact your veterinarian on how to proceed.

While it might seem like smaller animals are not a threat to your cat or dog, it isn’t necessarily the intensity of the bite itself, but what could come with it that is the real danger. Rabies and other types of disease can be quickly transferred from a wild animal to your family pet. Keep your pet away from all wildlife, but especially animals that are acting oddly, do not seem afraid of humans and stay up-to-date on vaccines when you go for an annual veterinary check-up. This will protect your pet and help to reduce associated risks. Contact Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth for more information about check-ups, vaccinations, and emergency care services available for pets in the South Coast area by calling 508-996-3731 and speak with one of our friendly team members.