While generally classified as wild animals, foxes are curious and even friendly. It is not uncommon to find foxes scampering through your garden and rummaging through the trash. As cute as they are, foxes can be a painful nuisance. But what if they come in contact with your dog? Will a fox attack a dog?
Foxes are not aggressive. Instead, they are timid animals that prefer to stay in their own space. A fox will rarely attack a dog as it prefers to avoid such confrontations. Normally, even red foxes don’t fancy confronting small dogs. However, a fox could attack a dog in extreme cases, like when a fox is starving, feeling threatened, or suffering from rabies.
There is so much to know about fox attacks on dogs. Are wild foxes dangerous to dogs? What happens if a fox bites a dog? Do foxes eat dog food? Have there been reported cases of foxes attacking dogs?
Can a Fox Attack a Small Dog?
Foxes will be naturally reluctant to attack dogs – big or small. Nevertheless, a fox could attack a small dog if it feels threatened. Aggression spurred by self-defense, a fox can adopt a last-resort attack on a small dog if it feels the dog could harm it.
When Would a fox Attack a Dog?
In normal circumstances, a fox will keep its distance from a dog. Only in the following extreme events will a fox attack a dog:
A Fox Infected with Rabies Can Attack a Dog
Rabies is a nervous malfunction in animals that could result in death. Foxes are notorious for carrying rabies. Rabid foxes could lunge aggressively at your dog, not only possibly injuring them but also transferring the deadly diseases to your dog.
In countries like Australia and the United Kingdom, an extensive elimination of rabies has been achieved. But North America still has a significant rabid fox population. In the United States, 92.7% of reported cases of rabies were from wild animals. 7.2% of these reported cases were from foxes.
A Fox Would Attack a Dog if to Protect Its Pup
As is typical of mothering animals, they can quickly resort to violence to protect their young if they perceive the latter is threatened. Therefore, a fox can attack a dog – regardless of the dog’s size – if it feels the dog would harm its pup.
A mothering fox is very protective of its pup. Such care is understandable as foxes don’t breed more than once in a year; hence the strong bond between the mothering fox and her kit.
Foxes build dens where they stay with their young. This enclave protects them from predators. Therefore, you can expect fox attacks on your dog – and pets at large – if a vixen (female fox) happens to build a den on your property. This means your dog could seldom trespass such territories and get attacked by the fox.
If Your Dog Invades the Fox’s Space
Foxes are not necessarily territorial. They like it when they are left to their space. Nonetheless, if a fox perceives your dog as invading its space and sizing it (fox) closely in a manner of the dog cornering the fox, the fox could leap into an attack on the dog.
Such attacks are typical when the fox doesn’t notice the dog’s entry early enough, and the fox interprets it has a reduced chance of escape if it doesn’t put up a hard fight.
A Starving Fox Could Attack a Dog
A starving animal has few fears or limits. A desperately hungry fox will attempt to make a meal of anything that comes its way if it has the capacity.
Therefore in those moments of insane hunger, if a fox encounters a dog, the chances are high that it would attack it and try to prey on it. This is commonly seen when starving foxes attack and feed on puppies.
What Happens If a Fox Bites a Dog?
No doubt, fox bites can be really painful. Aside from the physical hurt, there is the danger of being infected when a fox bites you. The same applies to your dog.
Foxes can transfer diseases to your dog, either from bites or even general contact with your dog. You can know a fox has bitten your dog by checking the dog for bite marks, scratches, or even bleeding.
When infected by a fox bite, the site of the bite could redden with time. Consequently, such a site could develop puss, with your dog suffering itches and scabs. There are also cases when your dog can get feverish when bitten by a fox, lose appetite, or even experience rashes.
Rabies is one of the most prevalent pathogens that your dog can get when bitten by a fox. The red fox is known to be a major sylvatic carrier of rabies in Europe. Such rabies from fox bites can end up fatal for your dog.
Do Foxes and Dogs Get Along?
Dogs and foxes don’t have a good history of friendship. Despite belong to the same Canidae animal family, dogs and foxes barely get along. A fox would naturally run away from a dog if it has the opportunity to.
And depending on your dog breed, a protective dog breed will find a fox invasive and display hostile behaviors towards it, greatly reducing the chances of comradeship between them.
Also, considering that both the dog and the fox are carnivorous animals that share food types, there is an increased tendency of conflict between a dog and fox over food.
Do Foxes Eat Dogs?
The chances of a fox feeding on a dog depend largely on the size of the dog. Yes, a fox can feed on smaller dogs. But for the relatively bigger ones, a fox is unlikely to prey on them.
It would only eat such bigger-sized dogs when the fox finds them already dead. Considering that smaller dogs are at the risk of being preyed on by a fox, it is advised to get your dogs on leash when on an outdoor trip. This way, you can monitor them and equally protect them from such attacks.
To reduce the possibility of foxes eating your dog, strive to make your property harder for foxes to penetrate. It will help if your property is adequately fenced at a height foxes would struggle to leap over.
Should you install such barricades, it makes sense to check the other side of the fence from time to time. This is to make sure that foxes are not attempting to dig through the fence into your home.
Are Wild Foxes Dangerous to Dogs?
Of the over 30 species of foxes, red foxes are the most prevalent. Considering that red foxes are the biggest type of wild-caught foxes, they are the most significant threat to your dog.
However, the odds of a red fox attacking your dog are low. Now, red foxes rarely attack dogs whose weight beat 7.7 lb.
The majority of dogs weigh above this margin, reducing their risks of being attacked by wild foxes – unless in extraordinary circumstances.
However, for the cluster of dogs that weigh below this 7.7 lb margin, like the Chihuahuas and poodles, the red fox – or any wild fox – could attack it.
Aside from the extreme cases where a fox could attack an adult Chihuahuas or poodle, foxes are more comfortable preying on smaller puppies. This readily fits into the fox’s diet of raw meat.
If you are in an area with significant fox traffic or population, it makes sense to keenly watch over your dog to prevent such attacks, however rare.
Do Wild Foxes Play with Dogs?
Traditionally, foxes and dogs don’t share convivial relationships. Although the relationship between foxes and dogs is not as antagonistic as that of dogs and cats, foxes are very timid, and even their famed curiosity will not push them into close quarters with a dog.
Actually, there is so little to bring a dog and a fox together. If they ever encounter each other, the fox would likely run away to prevent any confrontation.
Will a Wild Fox Eat Dog Food?
A fox can eat wet dog food, especially the commercial tinned variant. If foxes come across raw or cooked meat you have prepared for your dog, foxes could eat it too.
A fox’s diet is broad as it is not too selective. If a fox comes across biscuits and other dog treats, it can eat them as well. But on the ground of preference, foxes would choose a natural diet over dog food.
Reports of Foxes Attacking Dogs
While not common, in recent years, there have been reports of foxes attacking dogs. A particular report in 2013 detailed how a fox attacked pets in a housing estate in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland. Sadly, this fox attack left three dogs dead.
Two of the dogs suffered the fatal atack in the owner’s yard, while the third was dragged into the neighboring woods where it was feasted on.
According to James Marrinan, a local man who had lost two pet dogs to suspected fox attacks, “one was a lovely little Jack Russell, and I know it was the fox that did it. I was driving home one night and saw two foxes in the middle of the road in my headlights, so they’re around the place.”
Aside from the attack in County Clare, another fox attack on dogs has been reported in Dewey Beach in eastern Sussex County, Delaware, United States.
A certain Jim Caperelli’s dog, a bloodhound, called Copper, suffered a fox attack with the fox scratching the dog’s face in this attack.
Jim recounted strolling with Copper outside his home in Dewey when a fox jumped right from under Jim’s car, biting Copper’s face. Particularly, there were two foxes under the car, with the bigger one which menacingly approached Copper.
Such attack was rare as Copper was a 125-pound bloodhound, according to Jim. This was way beyond the said weight limit of dogs foxes could fancy attacking. But the other fox wasn’t deterred despite Copper returning the aggression.
According to Jim, “He was going ballistic, and the fox would not back off. He had no fear.”
It took Jim’s intervention to save the day as he managed to pull his dog to safety up to the third-floor terrace in his house.