Pet Safety at the Lake Year Round

There are many precautions you can take to ensure your pet’s safety while you enjoy lake life with friends and family. Vaccinating your pet keeps it safe from diseases from wild animals and you safe from legal problems if an altercation occurs. Reports of missing pets are heartbreaking. Pets face some different and some same types of dangers in rural areas compared to the city. This article has no intention of scaring pet owners, but serves to help pet owners be aware of what to watch out for at the lake.

Any lake has an abundance of wildlife, and many lakes are near wildlife management areas or have state and federally managed properties. Whether you live on the lake, own a summer home, rent cabins, or camp at the lake, you can keep your pets safe with prevention and awareness. I see so many missing pet posts where owners never find their pets on my neighborhood’s nextdoor website. On a majority of those posts, the owner just let their dog outside alone for a little while, or their cat always comes home for dinner, etc.

Wild Animals


Coyotes live everywhere in North America. Coyotes are scavengers, but hungry coyotes will kill pets for food if your pet is outside alone. While fences provide a defense, coyotes can dig under and climb or jump over a fence. Coyotes do not like bright lights. An outdoor light can help steer them away from your property. Secure all of your food and garbage and keep it out of reach with a tight-fitting lid on a garbage container at all times. Do not store pet food outside. Coyotes hunt birds, so a birdfeeder can pose temptations. Coyotes hide in bushes and underbrush to lie in wait for prey. Keeping your bushes trimmed is a good preventative measure. Leaving your pet outside alone on a regular basis can lead to stalking by coyotes and other species.

If you like to hike with your pets, it is best to stick to cleared trails, carry a big stick, and keep your pet on a leash. Coyotes mark their territories and may perceive you as a threat. Invest in a sturdy leash for walks in primitive areas. You cannot control your pet with retractable leashes in the case of an encounter because they break quite easily. If you do encounter a hungry coyote, stay calm and bulk out to make yourself as large as you can appear, and use your stick to threaten it. If you camp with your pets, keep them with you and watch them at all times when they are outside.

Some sources say coyote attacks are rare, and others say they account for many missing animals in the U.S. However, coyotes will viciously attack small pets. Human attacks are rare. Research from the Canid Conservation Science Lab at Calgary University in Canada reports that coyote attacks are higher during the pup-rearing season and when young uneducated juveniles are leaving their packs for the first time, and that their research is consistent with U.S. research. (1) Rex Baker and Robert Timm’s research reported coyote attacks on humans rare with 348 attacks on children and adults in the U.S. and Canada between 1977 and 2015. (2)

Snakes and Scorpions

Copperheads, rattlesnakes, and water moccasins (aka cottonmouths) live in Oklahoma and Texas. Copperheads and rattlers will attack when your pet is walking in grass or nosing in burrows and rocky areas. Water moccasins typically attack only when threatened and can be found on land and in water. Snakebites are not usually fatal for dogs. All three snake species are pit vipers with highly sensitive heat sensors between their eyes and nostrils. When they detect minute changes in outside temperature, they may strike. 

Scorpion venom usually does not prove not fatal to animals and humans in Oklahoma and Texas. They hang out in the same environments as copperheads and rattlesnakes. Scorpions like to hide in footwear and clothing (like spiders). Humans should seek immediate emergency medical treatment if bitten by these creatures.

Bobcats, Cougars, and Ocelots

Bobcats attack lightening fast. Cougars (aka pumas and mountain lions) attack opportunistically. If they see a pet and they are hungry, they may want to eat it, but they are more likely to attack livestock. Ocelots are more rare than bobcats or cougars. Like coyotes, wild cats hunt birds. These cats stalk their prey, and they swim and climb trees and fences to hunt birds and small prey. They live in Oklahoma and Texas.

Raccoons, Rats, and Squirrels

The main threat from raccoons is if your pet wants to catch one, and the raccoon has rabies. Raccoons love garbage and pet food. Rats are fiercely aggressive, and again, the danger is disease. With squirrels, it is disease, plus their sharp teeth and claws, if your pet likes to hunt and catch them, can damage soft tissue.


The sticky quill of the porcupine can become embedded in your pet’s flesh during an encounter. They live all over North America. This injury usually requires a veterinarian’s skill to remove the quills.

Eagles, Hawks, and Owls

These are birds of prey and hunt for their meals. While attacks are rare, small animals left alone could become their dinner in one fell swoop. Like coyotes, if you leave your small pet outside alone on a regular basis, they may draw the attention of one of these strategic hunters with sharp vision.

Texas A&M’s Veterinary Medicine program encourages pet owners living closer to rural areas to look for nesting areas [of birds of prey] and to stay away. They encourage people to keep their yard free of debris or plant material where predators can hide. (3)


Alligators can bark like dogs, run as fast as a horse for a quarter mile, and swim up to 20 mph. They typically hunt beginning at dusk and find small dogs easy prey. If you visit a lake and stay near their preferred habitat, like marshy, shallow waters, be aware. They are naturally afraid of humans and usually will not aggress unless you come upon a nesting female. Carry a big stick, and she will back off. Gators will attack small pets in the water. It is illegal in most states to feed alligators, but people feed alligators. Hand-fed gators are the most aggressive and exhibit stalking behavior on land. Keep your pet on a leash if you walk it at dusk or in the evenings in alligator habitats. Alligators do not like busy human beaches and campgrounds. They prefer to live away from humans.


There is a dog poisoning ritual in rural communities. If people perceive a dog or cat as a nuisance, some do not think twice about baiting this animal with poison. Also, people put poison out for wild animals which could attract a pet. Poisoning is never recommended to get rid of any animal. Some states and counties offer wild animal removal services, but in many cases, people have to hire a professional. Poisoning is much less expensive.

In Conclusion

It is especially important that owners of small animals never leave their pets outside alone in rural areas. Large dogs are much less vulnerable to wild animal attacks. But, if you own a guard or working breed dog, it may not back down from a fight. Cats are vulnerable to all of these wild hunters, and it may not be safe for your pet cat to roam free outside.


Pets can contract diseases from wild animals from their saliva, bites, and feces. Dogs love to smell the waste left behind from animals. Wild animals may be looking for a water source and can leave behind a nasty infection or disease if they drink from your pet’s water container.

Vaccinating your pet ensures your legal status if there is an altercation with a human or another pet. Vaccinating, supervising, and controlling your pet in public is the number one way to protect your pet, other pets, and yourself from diseases and unnecessary legal expenses.

Dog Bite Laws


Oklahoma Statutes Annotated. Title 4. Animals. Chapter 3. Dogs

Summary: These statutes comprise Oklahoma's Dangerous Dog Laws. The state imposes strict liability for dog bites; "the owner or owners of any dog shall be liable for damages to the full amount of any damages sustained when his dog, without provocation, bites or injures any person while such person is in or on a place where he has a lawful right to be." Further, any person may lawfully kill a dog who is chasing that person's livestock. An owner of a dog that has been adjudged "dangerous" must register the dog, enclose the dog except when out on a leash with muzzle, and post $50,000 in liability insurance. An owner who does not follow the provisions not only faces the confiscation of his or her dog, but may also be subject to a one-year misdemeanor. (4)


Texas Health and Safety Code § 822.005. Attack by Dog

(a) A person commits an offense if the person is the owner of a dog and the person:
(1) with criminal negligence, as defined by Section 6.03, Penal Code , fails to secure the dog and the dog makes an unprovoked attack on another person that occurs at a location other than the owner's real property or in or on the owner's motor vehicle or boat and that causes serious bodily injury, as defined by Section 1.07, Penal Code , or death to the other person;  or

(2) knows the dog is a dangerous dog by learning in a manner described by Section 822.042(g) that the person is the owner of a dangerous dog, and the dangerous dog makes an unprovoked attack on another person that occurs at a location other than a secure enclosure in which the dog is restrained in accordance with Subchapter D   1 and that causes serious bodily injury, as defined by Section 822.001 , or death to the other person.

(b) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree unless the attack causes death, in which event the offense is a felony of the second degree.

(c) If a person is found guilty of an offense under this section, the court may order the dog destroyed by a person listed in Section 822.004 .

(d) A person who is subject to prosecution under this section and under any other law may be prosecuted under this section, the other law, or both. (5)


Courtesy: Wine & Palette







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Fishing Report from TPWD (Jul. 10)

GOOD. Water stained; 75 degrees; 1.96 feet above pool. Striped bass fishing is great using live bait, slabs or topwaters on the right day. The weather should fire them up this week, watch for birds bouncing around the banks and hovering over schooling fish in deep water along river channels and main lake ledges. Bass fishing is slow using top waters early along the bluffs and using electronics to fish brush piles in coves 10-20 feet of water. Slow and shrink your approach to match the hatch and the heat. Crappie fishing is good jigging brush piles using electronics in the little mineral arm of the lake and near docks. 12-15 feet of water finding structure and roaming fish on chartreuse and black jigs. Catfishing is good seeing channels coming off baited holes and punch bait in 15-25 feet of water. Blue catfish are roaming the deep water in 40-50 feet of water eating cut shad. Fish the rocks and deep flats. Report by Jacob Orr, Guaranteed Guide Service Lake Texoma. Stripers are excellent on topwaters, and the slab bite has really kicked off landing the larger fish. Live bait bite has slowed. Water clarity has improved and the recent flooding has subsided so the summer pattern has resumed. Look for white egrets feeding on fish midlake to direct the way to fish. Report by John Blasingame, Adventure Texoma Outdoors.

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