With its year-round mild weather and lush, green grass, Florida is a pet-paradise. But, like any tropical paradise, it harbors more than its share of dangerous predators. Snakes, alligators, coyotes, panthers, and even hawks and owls pose a risk to your furry friends. There are many actions you can take to protect your pets, starting with secure fencing. Read on for some tips on pet-proof fencing against predators in Orlando.
1. A Good Defense
As the saying goes, “The best offense is a good de-fence.” Pet-proof fencing is your first line of attack. Perimeter fencing comes in many forms, from welded wire to wooden slats. Before you install a fence, you’ll want to weigh the costs and benefits. You may want to spend less money on a fence that’s more functional than stylish, but consider how the fence will affect your home value long term. Ugly fencing may work wonders for keeping Fido in the yard, but it won’t help clean up the appearance of your landscaping, which is one easy curb appeal fix.
A few words of caution about invisible fences: subsurface electric fences are excellent at keeping your dog inside your yard, but in Florida, they offer no protection against predators coming in. A good pet-proof fence needs to work both ways to protect your pets from threats outside your yard. A strand of electric fencing or a roll bar on the top of your fence can help to deter predators from climbing over.
Just because you have a pet-proof fence doesn’t mean you’ve got nothing to worry about. Florida is also subject to heavy rains. They can wash out small areas at the base of the fence, creating enough space for small dogs to squeeze through. Always check your fencing for breaches and don’t wait to make repairs. Cats, on the other hand, are masterful escape artists. Only use easy-release collars on your cats to avoid them getting hung up on fencing, which can be deadly.
2. Don’t Invite Predators In
One of the easiest ways to keep predators away is to take measures not to invite them in the first place. Bird feeders are lovely, but spilled seeds can attract squirrels and mice, which in turn can attract hawks and snakes. If you want a bird feeder, try keeping it in an area not shared with your pets. Consider a windowsill where you can collect stray seeds on a tray beneath it.
Outdoor bowls with food and water left in them are a draw for wild animals looking for a free meal. Raccoons can critically injure small pets. They also carry diseases that they can transmit to your pets through bites or scratches. Feeding pets inside will help to deter wild animals from coming into your yard, and it keeps your pet out of harm’s way.
Keep your yard free of debris and plant materials predators can hide in. This applies to snakes and large birds of prey. Always supervise pets under fifteen pounds when they’re outdoors, and if you have a cat, make sure they have access to indoors. Keeping grass mowed and edges along fence lines trimmed discourage snakes from entering. Overgrown grass is a snake’s idea of a perfect hangout.
3. Use a Leash
When you have a solid, pet-proof yard with fencing on your property, it can be easy to let your guard down. Coyotes are making a comeback in the state and can show up when you least expect them. If you have a small dog, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on it at all times when you’re outside together. When loading up the car or beginning/ending a walk, keep your buddy on a leash until you’re safely inside a protected area. A dog left to wander outside the yard can be in danger, even if you’re only a few miles away from a major metro area.
4. Avoid Risky Areas
We’ve all heard the warnings, yet few heed them. Don’t walk your dogs along lagoons or any bodies of water if you want to avoid potential run-ins with alligators. Large alligators can conceal themselves in shallow water, so the best way to prevent encounters is to steer clear of waterways in general.
If you enjoy hiking or jogging with your dog in fairly wild areas, keep your dog leashed and stay alert. Don’t wear headphones. If a dog senses danger, barking is their way of alerting you. One way to make your forays into nature safer is to avoid heading out at dusk or dawn, prime hunting times for large predators.
5. Allow Limited Outdoor Access
While pet doors give our four-pawed companions the freedom to come and go as they please, unfettered freedom carries risk. As mentioned above, dawn and dusk are the times of day when predators are on the prowl, and owls like to hunt at night. It’s best to always monitor small (under fifteen pounds) pets while outdoors. If you insist on giving them daytime access via a pet door, you should lock it between sunset and sunrise. It is always a good idea to keep cats indoors, but if you allow them outdoor access you should limit it to daytime.
If you worry that your pet will be bored or resentful if you limit their outdoor time, make sure they have plenty of stimulation and entertainment. Keeping cat toys in a jar with catnip will help keep cats interested in play. A scratching post will ensure your furniture’s safety. Most dogs kept inside during the day enjoy access to windows where they can see outside and feel they’re “doing their job” to protect their territory. Some nervous dogs, however, are calmer and less destructive if crated when home alone. As with most things pet-related, only you know what is best for your pet.
There are many factors to consider when it comes to keeping your pets safe. Following these simple guidelines should help keep you and your animal companions safe together for years to come.
Have more questions about lawn care in Orlando, FL? Visit our Orlando, FL lawn care page for more information.