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March 13, 2012

Raccoons and Pets

Know what threats raccoons may pose to your pets and how to eliminate them

Adapted from the book Wild Neighbors

  • Feeding pets outdoors is a sure way to attract raccoons. Eagle Eye Imaging/iStockphoto.com

  • Your pet rabbits will be safe from raccoons and other wild animals in an indoor rabbit habitat. Adam Goldfarb/The HSUS

  • If you live in raccoon country, don’t allow your dog to roam unsupervised. Judy Allan/iStockphoto.com

Raccoons sometimes get into scraps with cats, and they may occasionally prey on small animals housed outside, such as chickens and rabbits.

When no other food is available, raccoons might even prey upon kittens and small cats, but other times, they can be seen eating side by side when cats are fed outdoors.

Feeding pets outside is probably the most common reason that raccoons come into contact with them.

Fight or flight

Healthy raccoons are unlikely to pick a fight with a dog, but dogs sometimes chase raccoons. Sick or injured raccoons, cornered mothers protecting their young, and orphaned baby raccoons are most likely to be victims of dog attacks. If caught by a dog, a raccoon may fight back to defend herself, and both the dog and raccoon can be injured.

How to stop raccoons from using your pet door »

Raccoon rules

To reduce the chances of your pets having a close encounter with a raccoon follow these simple rules:

  • Keep pet rabbits and cats indoors at all times. 
  • If cats or dogs are fed outside, do so only by day and remove food immediatel.
  • Don’t allow dogs to roam unsupervised and unleashed.

These practices are good for your pet, whether or not they're likely to come into contact with a raccoon. Keep your pets' vaccinations up-to-date, and if your pet does encounter a raccoon, check with your vet about what to do.

Resources

» Purchase a copy of Wild Neighbors, the go-to guide for useful, humane solutions to conflicts with wildlife. 
» If you are located within the D.C. Metro Area, take advantage of our wildlife conflict resolution service.
» Read Dorcas MacClintock’s Natural History of Raccoons (Blackburn Press, 2003) to learn more. 

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