Would a fox attack your dog? Could that same fox potentially kill and even eat your dog?
Fortunately, the answer to those questions is no, at least in most instances.
These are just some of the questions we will tackle in the article below.
Additionally, we will talk about the various types of foxes and their prevalence in the United Sates today, explain their typical diet, and highlight some of the ways you can prevent fox encounters and attacks when it comes to your beloved dog or puppy.
Will a Fox Attack, Eat or Kill Your Dog?
In many places around the country, the red fox (especially) is quickly becoming a nuisance, encroaching nearer and nearer to the places we all call home.
On farms and ranches, for example, landowners are constantly looking for ways to prevent foxes from feasting on their small livestock and eggs, but because the fox is so clever and learns so quickly, the success of these efforts has been elusive to say the least.
As their numbers continue to grow, foxes are now so widespread that in some areas it is not uncommon to encounter one in the middle of a city.
With the prevalence of foxes becoming more of an issue, many pet owners are now wondering whether or not a fox could potentially attack, kill or eat their dog.
Fortunately, in most cases the answer is no.
Dogs are not seen as natural prey to a fox.
Foxes are among the smallest of the canine breeds and, as such, would be outmatched by most mid to large breeds of dogs.
This does not mean, however, that dogs are completely safe from fox attacks, including those that might culminate with the death and consumption of that dog.
On rare occasions—and for certain reasons—foxes have been known to strike out at and even bite dogs.
Owners of puppies and smaller dog breeds, such as chihuahuas, toy poodles and other miniatures, need to be particularly alert for any presence of a fox.
Although attacks are rare, should the right situation present itself a fox would not hesitate to strike out at these smaller pets—and the result could be fatal.
Reasons a Fox Might Attack Your Dog
Given that the number of fox-versus-dog attacks is very negligible, we thought it best to point out some of the reasons why an attack like this might occur.
Some of these circumstances include:
- A mother protecting its young. Like most mammals in the wild, mama foxes will do almost anything necessary to protect its young. Should your dog encroach into an area where the fox kits are nursing or stashed away by their mother, he/she may be in for a very rude awakening. The lesson? Always keep your dog on a leash, especially when walking through habitat that is known to be home to foxes.
- If the fox feels cornered. Similar to humans, foxes have a very strong fight-or-flight response. In most cases, foxes will avoid the prying eyes and paws of your dog, even running away in most cases. However, if a fox feels cornered and realizes that flight is no longer a possible course of action, it will instinctively try to fight its way out of the problem. This could result in a nasty bite at best and a full-on attack at worst. One way to avoid this is to attach a bell-like ornament to your dog’s collar when outside. This will give the fox ample warning that danger is near.
- When food is very scarce. When a fox’s natural food supply has dwindled due to seasonal conditions or human encroachment, it will naturally expand that food supply. This could mean that small dogs and puppies could be vulnerable. For safety’s sake, it is always wise to keep small dogs close to you at all times.
- The fox is rabid. Last but not least, there are “very rare” occasions when your dog may encounter a rabid fox. Although rabies is not very common today in foxes, it does happen, and a rabid fox can be very unpredictable.
Types of Foxes in the United States
Although there are hundreds of different fox breeds living throughout the globe, there are essentially only four types of foxes that roam freely in the U.S.
These include the:
- Red Fox
- Gray Fox
- Kit Fox
- Arctic Fox
Although the gray fox was once the most prevalent fox found in the United States, that honor now goes to the red fox.
The red fox can be found in almost every state and territory and is also, unfortunately, the most aggressive of these four types of foxes in certain situations.
Red foxes can learn behavior very quickly; it is not unusual to see red foxes, for example, following behind large industrial lawn mowers waiting for mice and other rodents to scramble away.
Gray foxes are also very widespread, although not in the same number as the red fox.
Despite its coloring, the gray fox has much in common with the red fox, including hunting patterns and sleep cycles.
Both can leap up to 15 feet and both are very smart hunters.
It is not uncommon for either type of fox to encroach into inhabited areas, although the red fox is much bolder in this regard.
Gray foxes tend to avoid very cold regions.
The kit fox is fairly prevalent in the deserts across the United States.
This type of fox enjoys a dry and arid climate and subsists on small rodents that also call these regions home.
As its name implies, the arctic fox is found almost exclusively in very cold climates, in places like Alaska and Canada.
Arctic foxes are usually brown-colored during the summer months to blend into their surroundings, but come winter they turn completely white and are easily camouflaged by the snow.
The Diet of Foxes
All of the foxes we have described briefly above are characterized as omnivores, which means they eat a combination of meat and vegetation.
Foxes are opportunistic hunters, feasting on whatever food they can find in a given season.
According to experts, the main dietary staples of the fox are as follows:
- small mammals, such as mice, rats, rabbits, voles, and so on;
- birds and the eggs of those birds;
- crabs and mollusks;
- small reptiles;
- a mixture of vegetables,
- berries and other fruit;
- fungi; and
- carrion—animals that have already died from a cause other than a fox attack.
Of the four fox varieties abounding in the United States, the red and gray fox are easily the most common, and the red fox is the more prevalent and aggressive of the two.
That being said, foxes, which are omnivores by nature, do not view dogs as prey and are, as such, unlikely to attack them.
However, on rare occasions, such as when foxes are unusually hungry, protecting their young, feeling cornered or exhibiting rabies symptoms, they can attack dogs, even killing and eating smaller breeds.
Fortunately, almost any fox-versus-dog scenario can be avoided simply by being aware of your surroundings, keeping your dog on-leash, and protecting smaller breeds at all times, even when you cannot be with them.