Do you want to know if a fox would attack a dog? And eat it?
This article will tell you everything you need to know about the interactions of foxes and dogs.
Read on to discover:
- Whether foxes eat dogs in general.
- 5 dangers a fox could expose your dog to.
- What the cases in which a fox will attack are.
- If it’s possible for foxes and dogs to become friends.
- 17 useful tips to protect your dog from getting hurt by a fox.
- And way more…
Table of contents
- Will a fox attack a dog?
- Do foxes eat dogs?
- Are foxes a threat?
- Foxes and dogs
- Brazen, fearless foxes
- When does a fox attack?
- Fox friendly with dogs
- How are foxes dangerous to dogs?
- Foxes in your area
- 17 tips to prevent a fox attack (make sure to read these tips so that your dog won’t get hurt)
- #1: Prevent access to hiding places
- #2: Use smelly clothing
- #3: Use prickly plastic
- #4: Install a motion-activated sprinkler
- #5: Use noise-making devices
- #6: Use spicy marinade
- #7: Use an emetic
- #8: Secure garbage bins
- #9: Remove food sources
- #10: Keep pets indoors
- #11: Use electric fence
- #12: Use strong steel wire
- #13: Use an ultrasonic animal deterrent
- #14: If your pet is bitten
- #15: Do not entice foxes with food
- #16: Do not catch a fox
- #17: Keep your property tidy
Will a fox attack a dog?
A fox will attack a dog only if it’s cornered or threatened. Also, a fox will become aggressive if the dog is a threat to the safety of its kits. Foxes are generally harmless and shy away from people and pets.
Do foxes eat dogs?
Foxes do eat dogs but such cases are very rare. In instances when foxes eat dogs, the dog is usually of a small breed such as Chihuahuas or Yorkshire terriers. Attacks like this happen because foxes have become more brazen and fearless.
Are foxes a threat?
Perhaps you have misconceptions about foxes.
Some people actually think they are dangerous. And that they could attack dogs and other pets even without provocation.
The truth is, foxes are afraid of people more than people are afraid of them. But they get in your garden or house because something attracts them.
Like chicken, rabbit, pet food left outside, or unsecured garbage bins.
You’d do well to leave foxes alone. But if their presence bothers you, you can do things to keep them away.
Fight or flight
Humans need not be alarmed if they see a fox during the day. As they are afraid of humans, they will likely run away from you.
Fox attacks are very rare. There were attacks, yes, but mostly out of territorialism.
In some cases, the cause was not a fox but another animal.
Just like what happened in Cornwall. A family came home to find the chickens in their coop all dead.
The cause? The neighbor’s Jack Russell. The dog was still in the chicken coop with the dead chickens.
There were also other cases where the cause was badgers and rats.
Foxes and dogs
If you have small pets, such as puppies and small breeds, keep them indoors.
Or if they have to be outside, be with them to keep an eye on them. Your presence will be a threat to a fox, so they won’t approach.
Foxes rarely attack dogs. In fact, foxes and dogs avoid each other.
That is unless foxes are cornered. Or the dogs threaten the young foxes (kits).
Fox attacks on dogs
There are occasional reports of foxes attacking dogs, typically small breeds.
In 2010, a fox killed a 2-year-old Chihuahua in Dorset, UK.
Another fox incident happened in 2012 in Amherst, Massachusetts. A fox killed a toy poodle in the owner’s backyard.
Another Chihuahua named Chico was attacked in London in 2013. If the family hadn’t intervened, the fox would have taken Chico away.
Chico wasn’t the only victim of foxes in the area. Another dog, a Bulldog, was attacked by a fox inside the owner’s house.
In 2017, two separate incidents took place in Australia. One victim was a 9-year-old toy poodle, which was attacked and injured to death by a fox.
Another incident took place nearby. A fox killed a Chihuahua just a few blocks from where the first incident happened.
Brazen, fearless foxes
Foxes used to avoid humans and pets at all costs.
In the UK, foxes began moving into cities from the forest in the 1940s. Notably, many of these foxes concentrated in Bristol and London.
Over the years, humans have seen how foxes became more brazen.
In some cases, they enter homes and have staring contests with owners.
Before, they scurry away at the sign of a human presence. But now, humans have to shoo them out of the house.
There were also reports of foxes attacking humans
Chico’s owner claims that London was overrun by foxes. Their brazenness and fearlessness stemmed from being fed by humans.
To make matters worse, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) encouraged the feeding of the foxes.
In recent years, more and more foxes moved to city habitats.
Residents in Glasgow, Scotland, have noted that foxes are a regular sight everywhere. Now the animals are no longer easily scared. They would even stare at people.
It seems as though foxes are ‘self-domesticating.’ They are evolving and having doglike traits.
In particular, foxes in urban areas have shorter and wider muzzles. Their brains are smaller than their rural counterparts’ brains.
In addition, male and female foxes have similar skull shapes.
These traits fall into the domestication syndrome that Charles Darwin studied in 1868.
Darwin observed that domestic animals possessed:
- Floppy ears.
- Smaller teeth.
- Reduced brain size.
- Variation of coat colors and patterns.
One of the most important biology experiments also studied domestication syndrome.
The experiment on silver fox domestication was spearheaded by Dmitri Belyaev in 1959. Belyaev was a Russian geneticist.
Belyaev and his team selected the top 10% of the tamest foxes in every generation. He wanted to know if the traits would appear on foxes.
That is, even if they selected solely based on tameness.
The experiment started with wild foxes. Within six generations, the experiment produced foxes that showed doglike traits.
For instance, foxes licked the hand of experimenters. They could be petted and they wagged their tails at the approach of humans.
However, there’s one very interesting observation:
Foxes have gone down the road to domestication. Yet they were never fully domesticated.
Scientists are yet to find out why.
When does a fox attack?
A fox attacks a dog for the following reasons:
#1: Kits are threatened
Foxes are extremely protective of their young. That’s because they only breed once a year.
And to take care of their kits, they need a constant supply of food.
Foxes concentrate in urban areas because of the availability of food. And while the male fox hunts, the female, called a vixen, looks after the kits.
Foxes like to build their homes where they can protect their kits from predators or harsh elements. And the space under your porch, shed or deck is just perfect.
This could mean more chances of encounters between your dog and the foxes. Any encounter may be dangerous for your dog.
There’s no saying how violent a vixen could be. She will attack your dog if she thinks her kits are in danger.
#2: The fox is starving
Foxes are highly adaptable. Meaning they will eat what’s available in the area they’re in.
Foxes eat small animals such as chickens, rodents, and rabbits. They also eat plant matter such as berries, roots, acorns, nuts, and fruits.
In addition, they will eat caterpillars, reptiles, moths, and other small animals. They will also eat whatever they can scavenge from your trash bin.
In cases when foxes are starving, and they come across your dog, it could end in conflict. Big dogs can take care of themselves against foxes.
However, a small dog can be at the mercy of a fox.
A pet owner shares on a forum about how her dog was almost attacked by a fox.
Her dog, a Lab mix, was squatting to poop when a fox crept up behind him. When the dog was finished, he stood up, which startled the fox.
The fox fled and was gone before the dog could see it.
The owner thought that her dog might have appeared like a rabbit to the fox while squatting.
#3: The fox is cornered
Foxes are generally not a danger to both humans and pets. If there’s an encounter between a fox and a dog, the fox is likely to flee.
But, if foxes are cornered, they will become aggressive.
Fox friendly with dogs
Did you know that not all fox-dog encounters ended in conflict?
For instance, a pet owner had a close encounter with a fox. She and her Welsh Terrier were taking a walk in Surrey when a fox followed them.
Instead of fleeing, the fox approached them and play bowed to her dog.
Another incident involved a Border Collie playing with a fox in Wales. The pet owner observed that his dog and the fox took turns chasing each other.
There are also firsthand accounts in books, such as A Fox’s Tale. The book is about a fox and kittens and a dog playing.
Another book, Free Spirit, describes the author’s experience of raising a vixen. The author observed the fox letting a dog babysit her kits.
How are foxes dangerous to dogs?
Aside from fox attacks, which rarely happen, there are ways that a fox can be dangerous to a dog.
#1: Internal parasites
Foxes are highly territorial. They will use their scat (poop) and urine to mark their territory.
They would leave scat on flower pots, stairs, and even shoes.
If your dog happens upon a fox scat and eats it, it could make your dog ill. They could catch salmonella and listeria.
Roundworm is the most common parasite that your dog can get from foxes. Roundworms are the spaghetti type worms in your dog’s poop.
Puppies are most vulnerable, particularly if they have no vaccinations yet.
Your dog can also get hookworms, lungworms, and tapeworms from fox scat.
Warning: Roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms can infect humans as well.
#2: Bite infections and rabies
Your curious dog might end up chasing a fox. When a fox is cornered, it will bite.
And that’s the worst thing that could happen to your dog.
A fox’s bite could transmit diseases and infections. In addition, a fox is a rabies carrier. It will put to danger dogs that have no rabies vaccinations yet.
#3: External parasites
If foxes visit your garden every now and then, they will have encounters with your dog.
And if the fox is a carrier of ticks and fleas, your dog could get them.
Ticks and fleas bring a host of diseases.
From ticks, your dog can get the following:
- Lyme disease.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Fleas, on the other hand, can give your dog:
- Flea allergy dermatitis.
Mange is so common among foxes. And your dog can get mange if they get too close to foxes.
It may be uncommon for your dog to get so close to a fox. But your dog can get mange even if they come across a dead fox with mange.
#5: Weil’s disease
Weil’s disease is also known as leptospirosis.
This is a bacterial infection transmitted from foxes to dogs through urine.
This will happen if a dog drinks water that is contaminated with fox’s urine. If the fox has Weil’s disease, it might be passed on to the dog.
Worse, it could also be passed on to humans.
Though reported cases of Weil’s disease are few, the disease could be fatal.
Foxes in your area
Foxes would dig dens where they could raise kits.
If you have a porch, deck, or sheds, foxes may find a suitable place to stay.
A vixen gives birth around March or April. Four or five weeks later, you’ll see kits emerging from their den.
By 9 weeks, kits will be old enough to accompany their parents on hunts.
This is the time that they usually leave the den and move on.
If you leave them be, foxes are not dangerous. However, you don’t want them around your house.
They could harm your dog or other pets. Or they might leave a mess around your house.
They would eat anything edible in your garden and scavenge on your trash bins.
It could be a lot of trouble having foxes nearby.
17 tips to prevent a fox attack (make sure to read these tips so that your dog won’t get hurt)
#1: Prevent access to hiding places
Do you live in an area frequented by foxes?
Then you have to take precautionary measures to prevent them from holing up in your property.
This is more urgent when you have dogs, chickens, rabbits, and other small animals on your property.
Don’t give foxes a chance to take residence under your deck or shed. You can do this by blocking off entrances and exits.
Foxes are also diggers, so it pays to do a hardware cloth bury (also called an L-shaped barrier). This is an excellent way of proofing your home against foxes.
Doing the work might be tiring. But doing a hardware cloth bury will be beneficial in the long run.
Note: A hardware cloth bury can also keep out other annoying critters such as coyotes and skunks.
#2: Use smelly clothing
Always use humane ways of driving foxes away. You just want to scare them away without hurting them.
Depending on where you live, it’s prohibited to kill or poison foxes.
Besides, using poison against foxes is dangerous. Especially if your dog gets to the poisoned food that’s meant for the fox.
Instead, place some smelly clothing near the den entrances/exits. Try using any of the following:
- Old sneakers.
- Smelly t-shirt.
- Smelly sweat socks.
- Kitty litter with urine.
#3: Use prickly plastic
Foxes can be very persistent. They will climb and dig and chew their way in or out.
One homeowner from London was faced with this problem years ago. In fact, there were 5 foxes living behind his house.
He had to do something about it because the foxes became a nuisance.
In particular, the fox chewed the furniture. It also defecated inside the house while the family was away.
The fox also chewed through the power cables of several appliances.
Not only that…
Foxes dug up the garden and flower pots, and they were also sneaky shoe thieves
But the final straw, according to the homeowner, was seeing his Terrier playing with a fox.
He had employed a variety of ways to drive the foxes away, all to no avail.
Until he began using prickly plastic. He buried it just below the surface of the soil around the planters. While it was not fatal, standing on prickly plastic was uncomfortable.
And it worked!
Foxes stayed away from planters and plants in the herb garden.
#4: Install a motion-activated sprinkler
Aside from prickly plastic, the homeowner also found out another very effective strategy:
A motion-activated water sprinkler.
He actually said it was the most effective solution.
The infrared device is connected to the garden hose. If it senses a motion, it will trigger the sprinkler.
The first night it was used, the sprinkler was set off about 6 times an hour. After the first week, it was set off a few times at night.
Note: If you’ll use a sprinkler, make sure your pets are indoors. You don’t want them triggering the sprinkler.
#5: Use noise-making devices
Another solution to keeping foxes away is by using noise.
If there are foxes around, use a loud voice or bang on pots and pans. That will have them scrambling away.
You can also use a motion-sensitive alarm. Or a transistor radio.
The use of a transistor radio to keep away foxes was an accident. A farmer in Devon accidentally left his radio playing.
Interestingly, it kept the foxes away from his chicken coup.
The farmer related his experience to a swan herd, who tried it out to his swannery.
They noticed that only talk shows on the radio were effective. Music didn’t keep the foxes away.
The voices on the radio must have deceived the foxes that there were people nearby.
My personal experience
This reminds me of what I saw during one sports camp in September 2020. The camp was held in a village in a mountain region in Bulgaria.
I and my boyfriend went hiking with a group and reached a meadow with beehives. The beehives were surrounded by a copper fence. They were placed on a porch.
Next to them, there was an old radio playing. When we asked our guide what was that all about, he answered that it’s to keep the bears away.
Later that day, when we reached the peak of a mountain hill, we met a boy and a girl who were locals. The boy was carrying a hudge loudspeaker which was playing ethno music. He also had a microphone in one hand.
To protect themselves from bears. To me, it was weird seeing such a technique to chase bears away. But hey – there must be at least some truth to it if more and more people are using these methods, right?
Let’s leave that aside and see what science has to say about it.
One study has proven that human voices can instill fear among carnivores.
In large carnivores, human voices made them move cautiously. In medium-sized carnivores, human voices caused them to reduce foraging activities.
#6: Use spicy marinade
Since foxes raid homes for food, use food to keep them away.
There have been successful attempts in the past using food covered in hot sauce. A person covered chicken pieces in spicy marinade and placed them in front of the coop.
The fox sampled one piece and never came back.
In the past this was one of the techniques most people used. Foxes would kill chickens, then it would return to get the other dead bodies.
What owners did was to generously sprinkle mustard powder over the dead chicken. It effectively stopped foxes from going back.
A homeowner used hot chili powder to stop foxes from eating her strawberries. It became a problem because the foxes always returned to raid the fruits. Not even the fence kept them away.
But she covered some strawberries with hot chili powder. From then on the foxes stayed away from the strawberry patch.
Note: Use chili powder, Tabasco, hot sauce, or hot pepper. And be careful not to let your dog eat any of this.
#7: Use an emetic
If foxes keep getting back, use an emetic.
An emetic is a medicine or substance that induces vomiting.
There were successful uses of emetic against foxes in the past. When you use it against the fox, it associates eating chicken/fruits with being sick.
Thus, they avoid going after your chickens or garden in the future.
Note: Be careful not to let your dog near any emetic-laced food meant for the foxes.
#8: Secure garbage bins
Foxes are attracted by the smell of a leftover roast chicken in your garbage bin.
And if they can effortlessly overturn that bin, then they’ve got dinner.
Chances are, they’ll keep coming back to forage your garbage for more food.
Worse, your dog might encounter one of these foxes. It could end in a fight if your dog corners the fox.
So use sealed garbage bins that won’t spill even when tipped over.
In addition, don’t use plastic garbage bags as foxes can easily destroy these. Just look at this persistent fox trying to bring with it a bag of garbage:
In the process of destroying the plastic bag, it spills garbage everywhere. This could attract other critters and insects.
#9: Remove food sources
Don’t give foxes reason to keep coming back to your property.
That means removing all food sources. It includes all the food meant for other animals or pets such as bird food.
If you feed birds, make sure the feeder is roofed so a fox can’t access it.
Remove windfall fruits as well, as these could attract foxes into your property.
If you have a fruit or vegetable garden, use fencing to keep foxes out. You can also use prickly plants as fences.
#10: Keep pets indoors
Or at least until you’ve driven the foxes away for good.
One can never guarantee a pet’s safety with foxes around. A fox will turn aggressive if it feels threatened by a dog.
Miniature dog breeds such as Chihuahuas are more vulnerable to harm. Their small size means a fox can easily hurt them. The same goes for puppies.
Caution: Do not leave your dogs outside unattended if there are foxes in your area.
#11: Use electric fence
Some people think that a simple fence made of wood or mesh could deter foxes.
Not so. Foxes can climb that fence. Or dig under. That’s how determined they are to get to the food on the other side of the fence.
When using a fence, use an electric one. Just one contact and foxes will not try again.
That makes electric fence one of the effective solutions for keeping foxes out.
In fact, in one trial, it showed that electric fence reduced fox visits by two-thirds
In addition, 60% of foxes that approached the electric fence turned back.
The overall fox activity was reduced to 16% compared to before the fence was erected.
One good thing about an electric fence is that they meet your needs. If you need permanent fencing, there’s a high-tensile system for maximum security.
If you need the fence temporarily, there’s a mobile fence. It’s actually easy to set up and dismantle.
Caution: Before using an electric fence, check your local ordinances. And keep your pets away from the electric fence.
#12: Use strong steel wire
If an electric fence isn’t for you, consider using strong steel wire.
Stock fencing is a no-no because a fox can get through a 12cm (15 inches) hole. Chicken wire is also not a good idea because a fox can easily chew through it.
The best option is a strong steel wire 3cm (1 inch) in diameter. For lower gauge wire, use the mesh size 1.3cm X 2.5cm (0.5 inch X 1 inch).
Foxes will have a difficult time getting their teeth around the holes.
#13: Use an ultrasonic animal deterrent
Ultrasonic animal deterrents are devices that humans can’t hear.
But these emit sounds that irritate foxes.
Some devices have a solar panel, so it charges by itself. It is activated when it detects movement or body heat.
For foxes, the sound is siren-like, and they can hear it every two seconds or so.
The downside? Your dog can also hear the sound when it is triggered.
#14: If your pet is bitten
If a fox bit your dog, take your dog to the vet asap.
Foxes could be rabid, so your dog needs immediate treatment or vaccination.
#15: Do not entice foxes with food
You wouldn’t want foxes to keep coming back to your house.
Thus, do not, under any circumstances, give them food.
Do not entice them with food to get them inside the house. They could pose a threat to your dog or vice versa.
The foxes might associate your house with food and will come back again and again.
#16: Do not catch a fox
No one should attempt to corner a fox to catch it.
That said, do not approach it.
It could become aggressive and attack you to defend itself or their young.
#17: Keep your property tidy
Foxes can camp out in overgrown gardens, where they can find shelter.
With tall grasses and piles of discarded things, your fox will make it their home.
Make sure the grass is cut short, and throw away stuff you won’t be using. Besides, an untidy place not only attracts foxes but other wildlife as well such as snakes.