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Know how to keep your dog safe in times of danger

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It is getting to be that season again – a time to pack away for the long winter months; not just for human beings but for all animal kind. This is the time of year that the safety of your cherished pets could potentially become an issue.

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Just like has been written in the past, needs to be reminded in the present. The Midwest must look out for coyotes looking for an easy meal in the backyards of everyone from the poorest of the poor to the affluent rich of towns and cities all around.

It is not unheard of to have a coyote stroll down Michigan Avenue or a pack meeting in a near suburb because easy prey is available in a fenced-in yard with nowhere to go. Pet parents must be aware of this and follow the safety precautions issued by local authorities such as the DuPage Animal Care & Control listed below:

STRATEGIES FOR DEALING WITH COYOTES:

· Store garbage securely

· Keep bird feeding areas clean of debris. Even well maintained feeders can attract rodents which in turn may attract coyotes.

· Use squirrel-proof bird feeders. Squirrels visiting bird feeders attract coyotes.

· Feed pets indoors.

· Do not leave small pets like rabbits, cats, or small dogs unattended, especially at night.

· If you see a coyote, face it, make loud noises (clap your hands, bang pots and pans, yell at the coyote) and toss stones or sticks at it. Do not run away from coyotes.

The same type of care and control must be followed when dealing with gator problems in the southeastern states. Their precautions (reposted from Carrie Boyko’s blog) include

· During April and May gators become active just before dusk, seeking both food and mating partners.

· Breeding and nesting continues through early September, making Summer especially hazardous for our dogs, since gators often mate and nest in shallow water where your dog may love to romp.

· Gators spend their days hunkering down in the mud or lying in wait in the marshy, weedy areas where they are less visible. This makes the water's edge a less safe place for Fido to play. Be vigilant in your watch and never allow water play after dusk.

· The erratic movement of a swimming or playing dog attracts the attention of this fierce predator from a fair distance, and he may wander over--under water--to check out what the fuss is all about. When Fido starts to bark, it's all over. Gators may frequently take a dog by surprise, rising up out of the depths near a dog and hauling it away to its 'locker' deep under the water.

· A small to medium dog is at greatest risk, of course, but larger dogs have been known to be taken by mature male gators, that can reach lengths of 12 feet and weigh nearly half a ton.

· If your large swimmer simply must have a dip, the safest place to swim is in the middle of a large lake during midday, where these predators don't venture as often.

· Your best bet? Leave your fresh water swimming expeditions for cooler weather when gators are not as active. October through March is much safer.

· Another extra precaution to take is a super-thick life vest. Although this will not protect Fido from the strong bite of a large gator, it may give him some relief if attacked by a smaller one.

· If you walk your dog along a fresh water area known to be inhabited by gators, always use a leash.

· Gators can travel very fast on land; do not approach a sunbathing gator thinking it will be slow-moving; you'll regret it.

· If you spot an adult gator (more than 3 feet in length), no matter how small, give it a wide berth of more than 15-20 feet, particularly during mating and nesting season. Do not allow your dog to bark at the gator, as this will be perceived as aggression and may provoke an attack. Leave the area if your dog ceases to bark on command.

· If you notice a gator sunning itself on land, make some noise to alert it to your presence. Generally, this will cause the gator to retreat back into the water, giving you a safer passing.

· If you are attacked by a gator, fight back. Go for the back of the throat, the eyes, nostrils and ears. Each of these areas is highly sensitive. The back of a gator's tongue has a flap that controls influx of water, allowing them to open their mouth while submerged. If you find yourself in the jaws of a gator in water, summon your best efforts to damage this flap. If this flap becomes dislodged or damaged, a gator will generally release you to protect himself from drowning.

· Never, ever, feed a gator. No matter how cute or how big, he is not your good buddy. #nuffsaid

· Finally, get prompt medical attention for any gator-inflicted injury, no matter how minor. Their mouths are heavily infested with bacteria, meaning you are at risk for infection.

Now you have been reminded about two potential dangers facing your dogs. Adhere to the warnings and suggestions to keep Fido safe from harm. Your dog is your best friend – treat him or her that way and you will have that friend for many years to come!

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