Recently, bobcats have stirred up significant conversation within the dog community. Several friends even asked me whether these cats pose a risk. So it seemed like a good time to create a guide about whether bobcats are dangerous to dogs.
But before I get into whether bobcats are dangerous, let me take some time to define these animals. It’s a necessary exercise because these cats are commonly mistaken for other creatures like mountain lions.
What Are Bobcats?
Bobcats are medium-sized cats known for roaming around North America. Some people may also refer to these majestic creatures as red lynxes. In either case, these animals are notable and named for their stubby (bobbed), black-tipped tail.
Another defying bobcat feature is black bars on its forelegs. It’s one of the main traits (along with size) that separate the bobcat from its close relatives (mountain lions). Anyone who knows these traits can identify them, even from a distance (here’s an excellent video to show them in action).
As for the size, bobcats reach up to more than 4 feet in length; most experts agree on a maximum of 50 inches (4 feet and 2 inches). Their size makes them smaller predators, but still a threatening sight when encountering them in the wild.
It also allows them to hunt various prey like rabbits, chickens, hares, birds, or deer: bobcats aren’t overly picky about what they eat. Their diet actually depends/changes on the prey’s abundance, habitat, and time of year. This lack of pickiness is why many dog owners become concerned if living in an area known for bobcats.
Where Are Bobcats Located?
Bobcats are native to North America, with a habitat extending from southern Canada down through the United States to Oaxaca, Mexico. It’s a rather substantial distribution throughout the continent: the only state without a bobcat population is Delaware.
You may be surprised by how adaptable these animals are compared to other notable wildlife. Bobcats can even live in a various habitats ranging from swamplands to deserts and everything in between. So if you aren’t in a populated city, a bobcat population is likely nearby.
Are Bobcats Dangerous to Dogs?
These two previous sections probably scared you a bit more about bobcats. But there’s some good news when looking at them being a threat to our canine friends.
A bobcat’s first instinct when it sees a dog will be to run away from it. They’ll smell the presence of a human owner and run in another direction. Thus, bobcats won’t be overly likely to attack your favorite furry friend.
But I can’t rule out the possibility entirely. These attacks do happen with bobcats inflicting a significant amount of damage. So owners must do whatever they can to prevent this situation from becoming a possibility (more on this in the next section).
In particular, smaller dogs are much more at risk than larger breeds as these pups are similar to a bobcat’s regular prey size. Bobcats have been known turn to attacking your pug or chihuahua when suffering from severe lack of food.
But overall, bobcats represent a danger to your dog in certain situations. It’ll require them to be excessively hungry and a lack of prevention taken by a dog’s owner. Basically, these animals aren’t going to attack unless provoked or see them as an easy target.
How Can You Prevent Bobcat Attacks?
Preventing a bobcat attack isn’t a difficult task. In fact, many dog owners have all the necessary prevention measures. It’s just a matter of using them correctly or doing a certain task more regularly.
But if you do them, the likelihood of a bobcat attack will decrease significantly. So let us not waste any more time and get started with our first tip!
1. Scoop Your Dog’s Poop
Bobcats take great pride in protecting their territory. If possible, they’ll do anything to remove a threat from their designated area. So a bobcat who smells your dog’s poop near their place will react badly to this situation.
Thankfully, this situation has a simple solution. All you have to do is buy dog poop bags or use a scooper to remove the dog poop from your yard. Owners should be doing it anyway because leaving behind canine poop isn’t great for our environment.
2. Don’t Feed Your Dog Outside
One of the more common-sense tips would be not feeding dogs their dinner outside. Doing so will only attract critters like bobcats toward your home. It’s a much better idea to keep dinner time indoors and keep these animals away.
Similarly, keep your outdoor trash cans locked up tight. You don’t want a bobcat or large animals to smell the trash and enter your yard. It’s just a recipe for disaster, especially if you don’t accompany your dogs outside during their bathroom breaks.
3. Avoid Feeding Wildlife
This next tip continues a similar theme to the last one: don’t make your home attractive to nearby wildlife. Regularly, homeowners make this mistake by feeding small prey animals like squirrels.
These homeowners don’t realize inviting in the squirrels can result in their predators entering right behind them. After all, they go wherever the prey is to catch them.
4. Build or Reinforce Your Fence
Fences are the most vital preventative measure to keep out wild animals. In particular, bobcats will require a 6-foot fence to keep them out given their jumping ability. It should be more than enough to deter them.
However, fence upkeep is crucial. The fence isn’t useful if there’s a worn down part or missing panel. Bobcats are intelligent enough to find this vulnerability, sneak into your yard, and cause a raucous when provoked.
So I’d advise reinforcing any old, beat-up fence rather than relying on it. Trust me; it’s better to be than sorry concerning these preventative measures.
5. Install Lighting
Motion-activated lights are an excellent deterrent to any predator who wants into a yard. I’ve had them on my home’s fence for years without having a single issue. The lighting keeps away all the raucous-causing animals by startling them while alerting me to anything moving nearby it.
6. Never Walk Your Dogs Off-leash or Explore Bushy Areas
Off-leash walking in public places is never a good idea for anyone. There are way too many variables at hand that could cause significant issues. For example, an off-leash dog could run right into a wild animal without a way to pull them away.
So a simple way to avoid this issue is using leashes whenever on a walk or at a public place. It’ll ensure everyone remains safe and away from wildlife like bobcats. But a leash won’t remove the possibility of encountering wildlife on walks or trails.
For instance, a predator may hide in a bushy or wooded area. These places are preferred sniffing spots for dogs, but a snake or bobcat could be hiding in them. Avoid these area by keeping your dog near the trail rather than adventuring elsewhere.
7. Stay up-to-date on Vaccinations
Let’s say; your dog faces off against a rabid bobcat (uncommon, but not impossible) and gets bitten. Staying up-to-date on vaccinations ensure this situation won’t escalate into becoming a fatal one. It’s your last defense against one of these attacks.
Other Wild Animals That Are Dangerous to Dogs
Bobcats aren’t the only wild animals that can be dangerous to dogs. So let us look at a few more to ensure you have a better idea about what could threaten your favorite canine.
1. Mountain Lions
Mountain lions are a logical way to start this list. As a close relative of bobcats, mountain lions are a much larger feline that can weigh from 130 to 150 pounds. Therefore, these animals would certainly present serious problems for dogs.
A mountain lion’s territorial nature won’t help matters, either. It makes them attack unprovoked if pets enter their territory. If this does happen, dogs rarely stand a chance of surviving without human interference.
As a result, dog owners who live in areas with mountain lions should be extra cautious. You’ll even need to pay additional attention when walking or hiking with your dog. Experts often suggest traveling in dog-walking groups rather than alone.
Snakes aren’t the most popular animals among humans. Dogs aren’t massive fans, either, as these slithering nuisances can cause real problems. In fact, canines don’t seem to grasp the warnings provided by snakes, so it rarely ends well.
A dog’s snake bite isn’t something to play around with if one occurs. In these situations, owners should do their best to identify the snake and seek immediate vet care. You’ll want to get the necessary treatment ASAP to avoid severe consequences.
A common problem around suburban life would be the presence of coyotes. These animals aren’t overly dangerous to humans, as they want nothing to do with us. But they can create very precarious situations for medium-sized or small-sized dogs.
The issue comes from suburbs not providing enough resources for coyotes. So these animals see medium-sized dogs as rivals for valuable food or areas. It makes them aggressive towards the pups, causing fights and leaving your dog in rough shape.
As for small breeds, suburban coyotes will consider them prey animals. They won’t have any issue attacking them when trying to find their next meal. So owners who live near coyotes must be careful about leaving small dogs alone for extended periods.
But there is a little bit of good news. Thankfully, large breeds won’t have much to worry about with coyotes. Their larger size will intimate them, similar to how they react when encountering humans. It’s unlikely that you’ll even see coyotes around unless they’re completely desperate.
Bears are a terrifying addition to our list of dangerous wild animals. The large beasts won’t have any issues dealing with whatever dog breed comes into their space. Owners just need to pray the bear gets bored or frustrated and leaves before any damage occurs.
Sadly, bear interactions with dogs have become much more frequent. The majestic creatures have been forced to adventure into suburbs and other rural areas for food. As you can imagine, this situation isn’t ideal for the bears or pets/humans around them.
But thankfully, the type of bears retreating into these suburban areas are black bears. They’re a bit more shy and easy to scare off than other types. So if one’s around, loud noises and making yourself large should do the trick.
However, an off-leash dog can cause a problem when a black bear is nearby. Your dog will likely run straight towards it, making itself seem like a threat. In response, the bear will defend itself and it’ll end ugly.
Alligators won’t be a problem for most parts of the United States. However, the states with these reptiles often have issues with them attacking pets. It not suprising as alligators are one of the oldest predators on our planet.
Given this information, any dog owner living or vacationing in the South needs to be wary. I’d recommend staying away from lakes or rivers where these monsters reside. Honestly, you may not even notice them within these areas, but they will notice you!
Another issue is alligators have no problem with eating dogs. If anything resembles an easy target for them, the animal or human becomes prey. It’s not in an alligator’s nature to turn down easy meals just because it’s different from what they usually eat.
So dog owners living or vacationing in the South should stick to pools or fenced-in ponds. It’s just a safe way to prevent your dog from getting attacked by what are basically dinosaurs. Otherwise, it’s almost a certain disaster waiting to happen.
So are bobcats dangerous to dogs? In certain situations, these wild animals pose a significant threat to your dog. But anyone who takes the proper precautions shouldn’t have much trouble avoiding an interaction with these felines.
If you have any more questions, feel free to post them in the comment section. I find this topic fascinating and would love to continue discussing it with anyone with concerns. Thanks for reading!