Foxes are commonly found living in urban areas which does worry some dog owners when it comes to their beloved puppy’s safety. However, it might provide some solace that foxes do their best to steer clear from dogs at all costs.
Red and grey foxes aren’t the confronting types, and therefore will avoid even small dogs to live a more peaceful life.
With that being said, there are occasions when dogs and foxes meet due to unavoidable circumstances.
When this happens, it can be troublesome and scary for the fox, the dog, and the owner. So what’s the likelihood of something going wrong at this meeting?
We have taken the time to research the statistics on fox attacks on dogs to try and ease your mind. We’ve also determined whether foxes actually eat dogs or not and what dangers your pooch will be subjected to if they encounter a fox.
We will be going into all of these answers in great detail below, but if you don’t have time to read all of that at the moment, let us put your mind at rest right now. The possibility of a fox attacking a dog is very unlikely.
However, that does not mean that it is impossible. There have been a few cases in which foxes have attacked dogs in gardens. The majority of the victims were small dogs and puppies, as larger dogs would be more intimidating to the fox.
Don’t let this worry you too much, though. Let us reiterate that it is very uncommon for a fox to attack a dog and they will only do so if they feel threatened. Most foxes only attack as a form of defense if the dog is barking or has cornered them in the garden.
To sum up, the answer to the original question is no, foxes are not interested in eating your dogs. They don’t even want to attack them, and will only do so if they deem it absolutely necessary.
The more likely concern is that your dog will chase the fox and attack them, not the other way around.
Today we will be looking into why a fox might attack your dog and how you can prevent this. We’ll also discuss if foxes pose a dangerous threat to dogs and if they will eat your pooch or not.
Keep reading to learn more about how dogs and foxes coexist together.
Types of foxes and the likelihood of them attacking dogs
There are a few different types of foxes out there, each with its own personalities and traits. Not every fox can be lumped together when considering if they will attack your dog or not, as you will see in this section.
Pets, such as dogs and cats, were once wild animals that have been domesticated so that they can live inside our homes with our family members.
Dmitry Belyaev, a Russian scientist and the Institute of Cytology and Genetics director in the Soviet Union, became interested in the process of domesticating over half a century ago.
He wanted to know more about how dogs had become domesticated and learn all about the methods used. To fully grasp the method, Belyaev decided that he would domesticate foxes from the very beginning.
The reason why he chose to domesticate foxes is the fact that they have family ties with dogs. This would make them more likely to become successfully domesticated by using the same process that had been used with dogs.
After multiple years working on his experiment, Belyaev created a version of the red fox that was friendly towards humans and could be treated like a domesticated dog.
60 years after this experiment ended, there are still some foxes out there that are considered to be domesticated. These foxes can be petted and stroked without them getting spooked by humans.
However, domesticated foxes are not to be treated like dogs. They are still considered somewhat wild and they won’t listen to human commands like dogs will. Domesticated foxes are not afraid of humans, which makes them slightly more concerning to dog owners.
Will domesticated foxes be friendly with dogs?
Domesticated foxes should get along with dogs fine, especially if they have always had positive experiences with dogs.
Domesticated foxes can be brought up around dogs which makes them more likely to get along with the dogs in their adult years.
However, domesticated dogs still need to prey on smaller animals and will often chase after rodents and birds.
If a small puppy confuses the fox and thinks that it is a rodent, they might try to chase after it. If you want to keep both a domesticated fox and dog in your home, the dog should be a larger breed than the fox so that the fox doesn’t get confused.
Wild foxes are more commonly found around your urban area. In fact, there are more than 30 different types of wild foxes out there in the wild, with the most common being red foxes.
Red foxes are also the largest species of fox and therefore are the most threatening to dogs.
But does this mean that a red fox will definitely attack your dog if it sees them? No, not necessarily. Red foxes do prey on smaller animals, but these are typically only 3.5kg in weight and lower.
Most dogs are larger than this and therefore are not on the red fox’s radar.
With that being said, small breeds and puppies such as Chihuahuas and Jack Russels are this small and could be mistaken for a fox’s prey. Again, this doesn’t mean that it’s a sure thing that your small dog is going to get attacked by a fox.
Foxes are omnivores, like us humans, which means that they eat both meat and foliage. They prey and eat raw meat from their daily catches.
The most common prey includes mice, rabbits, hamsters, and squirrels. Fish, birds, and reptiles are also common types of prey for foxes.
If you have a small dog breed, it’s advised that you don’t leave them unattended when you know that there are foxes around – just in case.
If you have a puppy, no matter how large the breed will get in the future, you should never leave it unattended in the garden in case there is a fox around.
Will wild foxes attack dogs around humans?
There have been no reports of foxes attacking dogs when on the leash near a human. Foxes are often afraid of humans due to the size difference and therefore your dog is much safer when you are near them when there is a fox around. This is why you should not leave them unattended.
Why would a fox attack a dog?
Both domesticated and wild foxes have the ability to attack dogs. Even though domesticated dogs are more friendly towards dogs and humans, they can still be unpredictable when you least expect it.
As we mentioned earlier, a fox would often require a reason to attack a dog. Even if your dog is still a puppy or very small, the fox wants an easy life.
Mice and hamsters are much smaller than puppies and are therefore easier to catch. So, the fox will prefer to attack a mouse than the dog.
That is unless the dog has given the fox a reason to attack them. Below are a few possible reasons why a fox would attack your dog.
Protecting their own cubs
Just like any protective species, foxes will protect their cubs at all costs. One of the most common reasons why a fox might attack a dog is because they feel that their cubs are threatened.
Foxes breed once a year and are incredibly protective of their babies. The female fox will often stay with the cubs while the male fox goes out to catch dinner.
Fox cubs will stay in the adult’s nests until they’re old enough to hunt for themselves.
The nests provide protection from the weather and other animals. Common places for fox nests are underneath sheds, porches, or decks.
So, when dogs hear rustling coming from underneath their garden shed, they’re going to want to explore what is happening. If the fox sees a dog sniffing around their cubs, no matter how innocent your dog is really, they could be in trouble.
Foxes protecting their cubs can be very frightening and territorial. This is a common reason why dogs get attacked by foxes. Although a simple misconception by the fox, it could be detrimental to your dog.
If you find a fox den around your property or find that a fox is spending more time in your yard or around your shed, it’s best to keep your dog on a lead at all times until animal control can come out and survey the area.
Once they find and remove the foxes safely, your dog can have free reign in their garden again.
Starving and desperate
Foxes depend on catching prey to keep themselves full throughout the day. The most common time that a fox will prey is in the early morning as well as after the sunsets.
Despite their best efforts, foxes don’t always catch a significant amount of food – if any at all.
If a fox is starving, it will go into survival mode and desperately try to catch some prey to survive. If your small dog is in their eye line during one of these times, it is possible that they could get confused and attack your dog to eat it.
As foxes are most active during the morning and evening, you should keep your dog on a leash during these times. Small dogs and puppies should also never be outside without supervision to avoid the foxes from preying on them.
Foxes tend to dig underneath fences, so don’t automatically dismiss the fact that your dog could get attacked because you have a fence. Regularly check the bottom of the fence so that you can ensure that there are no gaps.
They’re feeling threatened with no way out
Any animal can feel threatened when another is bounding up to them with no warning.
If your dog gets close to a fox, there is a good chance that the fox hasn’t seen them coming and will get startled. A startled fox can attack without a second thought, which can be dangerous for your dog.
Small dogs are naive and want to make friends with every animal imaginable. If you have ever seen a small or young puppy attempt to play with an adult cat, you’ll know how intrusive they can be.
Take this behavior to an undomesticated wild animal and you might have a dangerous situation on your hands.
Large dogs are more likely to approach a fox because they are bigger than the fox and therefore not intimidated by the wild animal.
This will scare the fox and force them to put their defenses up, which can cause them to attack your dog, no matter how large they are.
Rabies is a viral disease that can affect the central nervous system of mammals, eventually spreading to the brain and causing death. Foxes are some of the most common carriers of the disease, which is spread through saliva.
Rabies can make the foxes aggressive, confused, and scared. These three emotions can cause the fox to attack and bite your dog, potentially giving them rabies as well.
This is a bleak subject, although rabies is not much of a threat anymore.
In fact, rabies has almost been eliminated from the majority of countries such as the UK and Australia, and extremely rare in the USA. Foxes are reported to be the cause of only 5% of rabies cases in North America.
Would foxes eat a dog?
There are a few reasons that would increase the chances of your dog being eaten by a fox, such as rabies confusing them or the fact that they are starving. However, the likelihood of this happening is very slim.
Small dogs and puppies are more at risk of being eaten by foxes as they can be mistaken for rodents and birds. However, large dogs are very unlikely to be eaten by foxes. A fox might eat an already dead dog, but again, it’s very rare that they would find this on the street.
Other reasons why foxes can be dangerous to dogs
Your dog isn’t in the clear just yet – it isn’t only attacks that can harm your dog when it comes to foxes. There are many different ways that foxes can pose a threat to dogs, in fact.
However, these other ailments are often not as severe as an attack or being eaten by a fox.
Dogs tend to eat other animals poop, which can give them a number of diseases needed to be treated.
Fox poop is no different and it can give them roundworm, salmonella, listeria, and other diseases. Fox urine can also be drunk by dogs and spread Weil’s disease.
Being too close to a wild fox can leave your dog suffering from fleas, ticks, and mange. If a dog is bitten by a fox the wound can get infected, and rabies can be spread if the fox is infected.
Preventing foxes from coming near your garden
If the idea of a fox attacking your dog has worried you, we have a few tips on how to keep them out of your garden and away from your pets.
Not all of these pointers will apply to your situation, although it’s best to follow the advice of everyone that does to get the best results and limit the likelihood of a fox attack as much as possible.
Check your garden regularly
We’ve already touched upon this, but it is incredibly important that you are always checking your fence, outhouses, and porches to ensure that no fox has been digging underneath it.
Foxes are most active during the quiet hours and therefore their digging often goes unnoticed.
If a fox has managed to dig enough to get underneath a fence and into your garden, it’s likely that they will try to nest there. If there has been digging around or underneath a shed, outhouse, or porch then they might have already made their den and had their litter.
If you see any signs of foxes digging in your yard, keep your dog on a leash until animal control has come to give you the all-clear. Then patch up the dug-out spaces so that foxes cannot get back in.
Remove the food waste
Foxes love food, and humans love to leave food waste out around their houses. If you want the foxes to leave you alone, keep the food waste to a minimum outside.
Don’t feed your dog outside either, as the smell might attract more unwanted attention from the foxes.
Invest in some motion lights
Again, foxes tend to come out at nighttime. They want to remain as invisible as possible while stalking their prey, so a motion light turning on and startling them during this time is sure to send them off running.
Install motion-sensor lights all around the perimeter of your yard to ensure that foxes will be deterred no matter what direction they’re coming from.
Wear a bell
Foxes don’t like much noise either as it can quickly spook them from their hunting. If your dog is wearing a bell, the rattling every time they move will keep foxes away from them.
Make sure that your dog always has a bell on whenever they’re outside off a leash, even when they’re just in your garden.
The bell will also tell the fox that your dog is incoming with plenty of time so that they don’t get spooked and jump into a defensive mode.
We hope that our article has been helpful and somewhat relaxing to you. Foxes very rarely attack dogs, and having one eat a dog is even more unlikely.
However, sometimes these incidents do occur and it’s best to be prepared. Luckily, there are simple ways in which you can prevent a fox from attacking your dogs, such as with lights or sounds.