18 Predators that Attack (or Eat!) Puppies + Protection Tips
When you think of dogs, you think of a domestic wolf, an apex predator, a formidable hunter with no reason to fear other animals.
But all young animals are helpless and need protection while they find their feet and learn to use their natural intelligence and defenses.
As adults, the smaller breeds are still likely to come off second best in a confrontation with other larger predators, but your puppy is utterly defenseless and clueless.
Why Will an Animal or Bird Attack Your Puppy?
The primary reasons your puppy may come under attack in an encounter with another animal include:
- Territorial aggression – some animals are aggressive in protecting their territory against all potential intruders.
- Protecting young – otherwise fearful small birds and animals that run from predators will courageously fight to defend their young.
- Protecting themselves – a cornered rat or squirrel will bite and scratch to gain freedom from a perceived threat.
- Food – if you have a puppy the size of a rat or baby rabbit, the puppy looks like a potential meal to a hungry coyote or eagle.
- Illness – a sick or injured animal may lash out at any approach. Rabid animals may display unusually high levels of aggression.
- Desperation – a hungry animal is more likely to come near human homes seeking food and shelter, which means it is more likely to encounter domestic pets.
The threat to your puppy depends on the size differential between your puppy and the other animal.
Any animal may injure your puppy when in proximity.
What Are the Risks to Your Puppy?
The risks vary from scratches to death, depending on the attacking animal and the circumstance:
- Scratches and bites may become infected.
- A severe wound may cause your puppy to lose an excessive amount of blood.
- Shaking, throwing, and dropping may break fragile bones.
After any animal or bird attack, take your puppy to a vet for a complete check and prompt medical attention.
Internal injuries may not be immediately apparent, and relatively minor injuries can become a severe health issue.
Plus, your puppy may still need vaccination against some diseases like rabies.
The type of animal and bird your puppy may encounter depends on where you live and the local wildlife.
Also, be alert to escapees from domestic homes (boa constrictors) and wildlife parks, as these may bring more exotic predators or larger animals into your area.
1. Stray Cats
A cat is a predatory animal equipped with sharp teeth and retractable claws. A cat is a true carnivore and has strong predatory instincts to hunt, kill and defend its territory.
Stray cats are a significant risk to tiny puppies from teacup, toy, and small breeds.
These puppies are similar in size to prey animals like rabbits or giant rats, and cats can also damage puppies from larger breeds, and scratches and bites are at risk of infection.
Other than the risk of physical injury, a stray cat may expose your puppy to ticks, fleas, and fungal infections.
How to Protect Your Puppy from Stray Cats
You can protect your puppy from attack by stray cats by close supervision when outside and by keeping all puppy food inside.
If your puppy gets attacked by a cat, you need to clean the wounds and take it to a vet. Your vet may recommend antibiotics to prevent the injuries from becoming infected.
Because your puppy may eat cat poop and risk infection from parasites, you must be vigilant in keeping your yard clear of all animal poop.
You can use a sonic perimeter alarm triggered by a movement to deter cats from entering your property. Set them along the edges of your grounds where they won’t affect your puppy in the middle of your garden.
2. Larger Adult Dogs
There isn’t an automatic bond of friendship between animals of the same species. An adult dog is not programmed to play nicely with a puppy automatically.
A large male dog may see a small puppy as:
- Potential prey to be chased and eaten.
- Possible threat to territory.
The size differential means that if an adult dog attacks your puppy, the injuries will be severe and potentially fatal.
A female older dog does not have automatic maternal feelings towards puppies and can also treat your puppy as prey or a threat.
How to Protect Your Puppy from Adult Dogs?
Don’t assume that strange adult dogs are friendly toward your puppy.
In an open space, keep your puppy on a leash and away from other grown dogs until you confirm with the other owner that their dog is friendly.
If the other owner has their dog on a leash, do not allow your puppy to approach as this may trigger defensive aggression in the adult dog.
You can socialize your puppy with other dogs but get the owner’s permission and cooperation.
An excellent way to introduce your puppy to a larger dog is to walk parallel with your puppy and the other dog on a leash. There is enough room to allow the dogs to see each other but not make contact.
You can then watch for friendly and calm behavior between the two animals.
In case of an attack by another dog, you risk injury to yourself if you attempt to get between the dog and your puppy. Collect the owner’s details and take your puppy to a vet.
The best protection for your puppy is to avoid contact with unknown adult dogs.
Socializing with other puppies is excellent for matching your puppy to similar-sized dogs and building a friendly temperament.
3. Pitbull Terriers
The Pitbull Terrier is a banned breed in some countries, and you cannot own one.
The Pitbull Terrier has a reputation for a high level of aggression towards other dogs.
A Pitbull is not inherently aggressive by nature, but it is a strong dog with centuries of breeding for its ability to win dogfights.
Depending on the individual, a Pitbull poses the same risk to your puppy as any other adult dog.
Foxes are members of the dog family and capable of hunting rabbits and birds as large as geese.
A fox that gets into a chicken coop will opportunistically kill everything that moves to ensure a glut of food.
A puppy is around the size of typical prey animals for a fox, and if a stray fox encounters a puppy, it may see it as an easy meal.
However, fox attacks on puppies are rare because foxes avoid dogs – even small ones. Only a fox that is ill or cornered is likely to be in contact with your puppy.
How to Protect Your Puppy from Foxes?
Generally, foxes are nighttime predators, but a hungry fox will be active during the day.
Your puppy is most likely to encounter a fox at night in your garden if there are foxes in the area. Your puppy is unlikely to face a fox while walking with you.
The best protection for your puppy from attack by a fox is to supervise your puppy’s nighttime bathroom breaks.
Foxes (unless taught otherwise) do not seek human contact.
Use lights and make plenty of noise when taking your puppy into the garden, and any passing fox will sensibly make itself scarce.
Any dog or puppy weighing under 50lbs is a potential meal for a coyote.
You get urban coyotes that den in and under garden sheds and garages.
If you are in an area where coyotes hunt, your puppy is potentially at risk from this opportunistic hunter. You may think your puppy is safe in your fenced garden, but a coyote is a fast predator that can snatch and run.
How to Protect Your Puppy from Coyotes?
The best protection for your puppy from coyotes is to avoid the possibility of contact:
- Fencing needs to be coyote proof – for climbing and digging.
- Keep a lid on your trash – coyotes are attracted by easy meals.
- Motion sensor lights and alarms may discourage a skittish coyote.
- Discourage rodents around your property – these are prey animals.
- Don’t leave out food scraps for wild coyotes.
When your puppy goes outside, you need to supervise it because your noisy human presence will keep the coyotes away.
The mating season in January and March is when you need extra vigilance.
In Coyote territory, keep your puppy on a leash as there may be a hungry coyote lurking in the bushes.
6. Raptors: Red Kites, Eagles, and Hawks
Predatory birds hunt small animals and birds for meat.
The raptor attacks from the air, using the impact of its body as a missile to stun or kill its prey. It may then carry the meat to a safer place or eat it at the kill site.
A large raptor, like an eagle or a hawk, will comfortably kill animals up to 60lbs or more. That puts all puppies in the potential prey zone for up to 24 weeks, and many adult dogs remain potential prey.
Your puppy is most likely to suffer an attack from a raptor if you walk near a nesting site.
These large predator birds are fiercely territorial, but a tiny puppy in your yard may look like a tempting meal.
Raptors hunt rodents and are known to catch birds on bird feeding tables.
How Can You Protect Your Puppy from Raptors?
Walking your puppy on a leash means a raptor is less likely to consider the puppy as a meal option.
If you live near breeding sites, it is sensible to carry a walking stick. You can discourage an approaching raptor by waving the stick and making yourself seem large and intimidating.
At home, minimize the potential for a raptor to want to visit your yard:
- Stop feeding the birds until your puppy grows to a size that isn’t a desirable meal.
- Keep rodents away from your yard.
- Consider using scare tape (reflective and noisy) to discourage raptor predation.
While your puppy is small, supervise all outdoor activities, and your presence will generally discourage most wild animals from approaching.
Vultures prefer dead animals – a vulture is a scavenger or a member of nature’s clean-up crew.
Unlike raptors, vultures do not attack living animals. A vulture may be curious about your puppy, but it isn’t going to swoop down and carry it away.
Vultures clean up after other predators like coyotes, wolves, and raptors. A vulture may mob another predator to steal its meal.
The presence of vultures may indicate these predators may be a risk to your puppy.
Like eagles and hawks, owls hunt small prey animals – typically rodents.
Owls vary from small to impressively large – Great Horned Owl weighs around 3lbs.
Owls attack and carry away small animals for food.
The Great Horned Owl can carry 9lbs, making even a medium-sized cockapoo puppy a potential owl snack. Although an owl attack is possible, it is rare (large predatory owls are in decline) and most likely at night.
Injuries can vary from puncture wounds to broken bones and death if carried and dropped.
How to Protect Your Puppy from Owls?
If you know there are large owls in the area (you will hear noises overnight), be vigilant when your puppy goes out in the dark for a bathroom break.
You may find it beneficial to install motion detector lights and some decoy owls to discourage wild owls from visiting your yard.
9. Crows, Magpies, and Other Corvids
The crow family has some large members (ravens), solitary and social species. Crows deserve a reputation for being intelligent, teaming up, and working together.
Magpies and crows will mob larger raptors to drive them away from their nesting sites.
The crow family will eat baby birds, small rodents, frogs, insects, nuts, and seeds. These birds thrive in urban and rural environments.
Your puppy is at risk of a crow attack if:
- Approaching a nesting site – crows are territorial.
- Approaching a wounded crow – crows are social team players.
- Your puppy has food the crow wants to eat.
A crow can carry up to 5oz in weight, and even the most miniature puppy weighs more than that.
Your tiny puppy is only at risk of attack by a divebombing crow or magpie.
How Can You Protect Your Puppy from Crows and Magpies?
Generally, your presence is sufficient to prevent your puppy from coming under attack by crows.
It is rare for a crow to attack a puppy without provocation.
If you have an injured crow or a fledgling magpie in your yard, keep your puppy indoors so its curiosity doesn’t prompt an attack.
10. Other Birds
Any bird will mob (divebomb) your puppy if it feels territorial or sees a threat to its young. The potential for injury depends on the size of the bird in comparison to the size of the puppy.
Generally, birds attack only occur during the breeding season when most birds feel more aggressively territorial.
Even in the breeding season, most birds will avoid contact with your puppy.
Seagulls nesting on the roof can be aggressive towards both puppies and humans. The impact of seagulls divebombing a tiny puppy can be severe.
These birds don’t see your puppy as potential food but a potential threat. The most straightforward approach is to keep the puppy inside with you until the bird moves onto another target.
In the case of a local nuisance (like a seagull on the roof), a raised umbrella while going through the danger zone will prevent contact with the puppy or you.
Typically birds use the threat of an attack as a deterrent rather than making physical contact with your puppy.
Arial bird attacks can happen but are rare.
In a parkland setting, you may notice geese and swans. These birds can be aggressive when defending young or competing for food.
Consider the size differential; keep it away from large geese and swans if you have a small puppy. These birds are territorial and will chase away intruders.
If you observe squirrels, you will note that they are not shy about attacking each other or birds competing for food.
Squirrel teeth are very sharp, and a squirrel can sever a human finger. If surprised, defending young, or cornered, the fluffy squirrel will fight back using its teeth, claws, and agility.
However, squirrels usually will avoid confrontation with a puppy. A squirrel may bite a puppy but does not generally seek to attack a puppy actively.
Consider your puppy’s size in relation to the squirrels in your yard.
If the squirrel is bigger or around the same size, then there is a slight risk that a squirrel may feel able to defend its territory.
Your best protection for your puppy is to supervise it when outside and prevent it from chasing squirrels. If your puppy corners a squirrel, the squirrel may bite to defend itself.
All animal bites may become infected, and there is a slight risk of rabies in some areas.
A large possum is about the size of a domestic cat.
Possums are typically non-aggressive towards canines. A possum may bite if cornered but is more likely to play dead.
Playing dead and emitting a foul smell is an automatic reaction by a possum if attacked or threatened.
Possums are scavenging animals, and puppies are not on the menu.
The most significant risk to your puppy from a possum is catching a disease or fleas, not from a possum attack.
A possum may fight back if cornered, and it makes sense to avoid close contact between your puppy and a possum.
Terriers are a canine breed noted for vermin control, and a good ratter was in high demand on farms.
Rats will bite when cornered, and an adult rat with young may aggressively chase larger animals. Your puppy is most likely to get bitten by a rat if it investigates where a rat is hiding.
Puppy food attracts rats, and an excess of rats is a nuisance and may bring parasites and disease into your area.
Generally, rats are not a significant risk for attacking even a tiny puppy as the average rat will avoid confrontation.
Your puppy faces the same risks of injury from venomous snakes as you when walking.
If you make a lot of noise when walking in a snake habitat, you can expect most snakes to move away and avoid contact.
Constrictor snakes, kept as pets, are a significant risk to tiny puppies. A constrictor capable of eating a piglet will find a small puppy a suitable meal.
The best way of protecting your puppy (and yourself) from dangerous snakes is to avoid contact.
If your puppy gets bitten by a venomous snake, seek immediate medical attention.
15. Alligators and Other Large Reptiles
These predators pose significant risks to humans and other animals.
If it gains access, an alligator will kill and eat large puppies and adult dogs.
If you live in alligator country, you know to check outside before letting your puppy out on a bathroom break.
Raccoons are a dog family member and are mainly nocturnal, so your puppy has minimal chance of contact with a raccoon.
Raccoons can be aggressive if cornered or if they have young to defend.
If the raccoon and your puppy cross paths, the raccoon may react violently to a potential threat.
The amount of damage the raccoon does depends on the relative size of your puppy. The raccoon will attack the vulnerable face.
Raccoon attacks on puppies are rare but possible. The best protection for your puppy is to discourage raccoons from visiting your yard.
Raccoons come looking for a meal; if no food is available, they will move onto a better site.
Your puppy may only encounter a beaver in a rural environment. Beavers are territorial and will fight back if bothered by a dog.
The beaver has sharp teeth and claws and is strong enough to drown a puppy in a lake or river.
Protecting your puppy from attack means being aware of potential wildlife in any area where you walk your puppy.
Beaver attacks are rare, but any animal will defend itself if threatened.
18. Farm Animals
Horses, sheep, goats, cows, and pigs are potential threats to your puppy. A charging ram can damage you and will flatten your puppy.
Cows may be curious about the strange yapping animal in their vicinity, but a careless step will severely hurt your pup.
The main risks from farm animals are kicks, horns, and weight. Although most farm animals are familiar with dogs, an overexcited puppy can irritate.
Around farm animals, keep your distance and keep your puppy on a leash.
How to Keep Your Yard Free from Predators
Making your yard safe for your puppy means considering the potential predators that may see your yard as part of their territory.
The defenses you put in place need to match your local wildlife’s approach and habits.
Coyotes, squirrels, and foxes are excellent climbers. Coyotes, foxes, and rats will tunnel under a fence if access to your yard is desirable.
Raptors and owls attack from the air and are unconcerned with fencing.
Fencing your property is desirable because you want to contain your puppy and keep predators out of the yard.
Your fence needs to be high (think ten feet) and extend below ground to be effective. Choose a fencing material that makes it challenging for a predator to climb.
In practice, you are unlikely to install an utterly predator-proof fence because that may make you feel like creating a prison yard rather than a relaxing place to play with your puppy.
Your fence will be your first line of defense but not sufficient by itself.
You can use motion-activated sound alarms and lights to trigger whenever a potential predator crosses onto your property.
The sound is directional along the boundary line and won’t upset your puppy, but it will deter stray cats and others from crossing into your yard.
Decoys and Scare Tape
A decoy owl or eagle effectively signals to others that the yard is out of bound.
You do need to move the decoy around to maintain its effectiveness.
Decoys may be of some assistance in keeping down the rodent population by signaling potential danger. Decoys are unlikely to be effective against foxes or cats.
Scare tape provides flashes of light and rustling noise. Farmers use it to keep birds and grazing animals away from crops. The scare tape may deter other animals, but it may also scare your puppy.
It may be helpful around the yard edges.
Keep Rodents Under Control
Most predatory animals don’t come looking for your puppy. These animals come looking for food – rats, mice, and small birds.
Any actions you take to keep small animals out of your yard will reduce the motivation for another predator to come into your yard.
Small pests come into the yard looking for food and shelter.
Remove these lures, and you will have less wildlife in your yard.
Keep a Secure Lid on Your Trash
Waste food is an easy meal for stray cats, rats, and many other animals.
Plus, it stops your puppy from developing an unhealthy habit of scavenging through your bins.
Raccoons are one of the most persistent offenders for getting into trash cans, but any animal will opt for an easy meal of scraps if one is available.
Use Scent as a Deterrent
Several products are available to deter predators, from stray cats to foxes using scent to prevent access.
Lion dung pellets deter smaller predators from your yard by making them believe a larger predator is on the prowl.
Use your scent deterrent on the edges of your yard because your puppy has an exceptionally sensitive nose. What works on other predators will also distress your mini predator-in-training.
When you walk around your yard with your puppy, be vigilant for signs of other animals moving into your yard.
You can check your border for animal poop, signs of digging, and a trace of wildlife.
You can go a step further and install a webcam or motion-activated cameras to confirm if any predators visit your garden under cover of darkness.
Observation of your environment can help you decide if there is a significant threat of predators in your area.
How to Protect Your Home from Predators
Most predatory animals will not enter human habitation (unless desperate), but if it is straightforward to get in and access your puppy food, you may get an unwelcome visitor.
The basics of stopping unwanted animals from getting into your home mean staying on top of maintenance.
A stray cat cannot magically appear in your kitchen; the cat will use an open window, a cat flap, or a hole in the wall.
You can use window screens to ensure animals and birds cannot come through an open window.
If you need a cat flap for your pet cat, consider installing one that requires a sensor on a collar to open it.
Animals like squirrels and raccoons may access your home through your attic. Maintain the integrity of your roof and remove any branches or other items that may provide easy access to the attic.
It is more effective to keep animals out of your attic than having to remove them once they get inside.
If you have a problem with large, aggressive birds (like seagulls) nesting on the roof, you can install roofing guards or bird spikes to make your roof a less desirable nesting site.
Predatory animals and birds are a risk to your puppy, and the loss of natural habitat means many previously wild animals move into urban areas.
Close supervision of your puppy in outdoor spaces means the risk of animal attack is minor. Even in urban settings, most animals avoid humans unless encouraged to lose their fear through feeding stations.
The best way to protect your helpless puppy is to ensure no possibility of contact between your puppy and other animals. This approach minimizes your puppy’s exposure to illness and injury.
As your puppy matures and grows, the risk of animal attack will diminish.
The most significant risk to your puppy is from other dogs because it is more likely to be in social situations with other canines while walking in the street or a park.
Statistics for dog bites are still low compared to the number of dogs in the country.
Relax and enjoy your time with your puppy, you need to be careful about contact with potential predators, but the risk of suffering an attack is relatively low.