As the weather gets warmer, many of us will be spending more time outside and in a lot of cases that means time outside for our pets, too! While the warmer weather is a welcome change, there’s also a lot of dangers for household pets this time of year. Follow these wildlife pet safety tips below to enjoy the great outdoors while still keeping your cat or dog safe.

wildlife pet safety tips

Baby skunks are only cute until they spray your puppy!

  1. Keep pets leashed! It’s so tempting to let Fido off leash for some playtime when hiking or out and about, especially in beautiful Sussex County, NJ where there are a ton of places to go hiking and fishing and enjoy the outdoors. But keeping your dog (or cat!) on a leash will ensure their safety. Other dogs can be a threat, but so can the chance of your pet running off in pursuit of new and exciting smells that can result in a lost pet or a scary encounter. Bears are just becoming more active this time of year and many have cubs – so stay leashed for safety!‌
  2. Stay close to home. If you have a cat that goes outside, this area and time of year can be especially dangerous. Wildlife such as coyotes and bears, and even lynxes and bobcats are all out and hungry. Even birds of prey such as hawks, falcons, and yes, even bald eagles in our area can easily swoop down and snatch up your cat or small dog in the blink of an eye. When in doubt, refer to tip #1 and keep pets leashed whenever possible. For outdoor cats such as barn cats, provide adequate and inviting cover inside a building or barn. While indoor cats do live longer, we understand that in our area barn cats have a place with many people too – so we want to help you keep them safe as much as the indoor kitties.
  3. Spay and neuter. Always, without exception, unless you are a professional breeder. In tact males and females get especially “twitterpated” (to borrow a line from Bambi) in the spring and that not only makes them more likely to create unwanted litters that create an influx of animals needing homes for rescues and shelters such as our local Wantage Pound, but it also increases the risk of your pet running off in search of a mating partner. Fixing your pet is the best way to keep this from happening!
  4. Make some noise! We’re not kidding, making some noise before heading outside, as well as along trail, is always a good way to alert wildlife that you’re there and warns them to keep a safe distance from you and your pets. A great tip for hiking is to put bells on your dog’s collar. This is also good for around your own property to warn potential pests such as porcupines and skunks that your dog is out and about. No one wants a late night emergency visit to de-quill a dog, or to be up until the wee hours of the morning washing the skunk smell out of your pup. 
  5. Keep garbage securely close and out of reach. It’s not just dogs that like to raid the trash. Stray cats, and worse – bears, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, and more all like to dig around for leftover goodies and the warmer weather intensifies the smells coming from your garbage. Make sure lids are secured and trash receptacles are locked away out of reach of any of those animals to avoid unwanted encounters!

There’s a lot to love about living in beautiful Sussex County, and the wildlife is just the start. We hope these tips make you love it even more while keeping your pets safe with these wildlife pet safety tips so that you can all enjoy the great outdoors together!