Raccoons, mice, rats and other critters can be a nuisance to homeowners. They wreak havoc on garbage cans, damage property and can cause destruction in attics and roofs if they decide to nest inside a home. While annoying, rodents and their relatives can also be be very dangerous to household pets.
Raccoons and rats can carry diseases such as rabies, roundworm, canine distemper and leptospirosis which can be spread to pets through contaminated fecal matter, urine, water and bites. This puts outdoor animals like dogs and cats at serious risk of infection and in some cases, these diseases can be fatal for man's best friend.
Rats and mice can act as hosts to a myriad of fleas, mites and ticks which can infect pets and transmit disease through blood exchange. Even though outdoor cats sometimes hunt smaller rodents, pet owners should keep their furry friends away from these potentially dangerous pests and vigilantly monitor their skin for signs of bites or parasites.
In addition to spreading disease, rodents can be dangerously unpredictable. While some larger pests may not display aggressive behavior immediately, they can become very hostile around other animals. To avoid inadvertently putting pets in harm's way, homeowners should keep a close eye on any suspected infestations in the yard or indoors, and ensure their animals have up-to-date vaccinations to prevent disease.
Keeping pests at bay
Raccoons and rodents are omnivorous, meaning they'll eat nearly anything – including trash and pet food. Homeowners should always tie garbage bags tightly to avoid making their waste an easy meal and it's also a good idea to vigilantly secure trash can lids and place bins behind a gate or door. It's important to feed pets indoors to avoid luring raccoons or other pests into the backyard. Homeowners should inspect their yards before nightfall to ensure no bones or treats are left outside to attract unwelcome critters.
Preventing a problem
Because raccoons and many rodents are nocturnal, homeowners can avoid contact between pests and pets by keeping dogs and cats indoors at night, but they should keep in mind pests can access homes through pet doors and take necessary measures to secure these entry points overnight.
It's important to remember the dangers pests present to animals can also affect humans, especially small children. Scare tactics such as bright lights and loud noises only work to keep critters away temporarily and larger female animals with litters, such as mother raccoons, are especially aggressive. Raccoons and rodents that are active during the day and don't seem afraid of humans may have rabies, a disease which poses a threat to both pets and humans. In order to protect their pets, families and residences from a potentially dangerous infestation, homeowners should call a rodent control professional at the first sign of a pest problem.