Why Do Alligators Attack Dogs? (Vet Tech Explains)

Why Do Alligators Attack Dogs

Alligators are not as common as they once were. There are six extinct species of alligators, there are only two that exist today. The first is the American alligator which can be found in the southeast coastal region of the United States. The second is the Chinese alligator, this reptile can only be found and just six counties in China.

Even though alligators aren’t widespread, there are several alligator attacks reported every year. On top of that, alligators are more likely to attack dogs than humans.

So, why do alligators attack dogs?

Alligators attack dogs because they are opportunistic feeders. This means that they’re carnivorous reptiles that will eat just about anything to survive. On top of that alligators are wild animals. They aren’t thinking about the ethics or morals of a dog being a pet, they’re just following their instincts that are telling them to hunt.

This article will go into detail about why alligators attack dogs, how to protect yourself and your pets from alligator attacks, and what to do if an alligator does attack your dogs.

Why Do Alligators Attack Dogs?

Unfortunately, alligator attacks on dogs are not unheard of. In the best case, dogs can get severely injured from an alligator attack. In the worst case, alligators can drag dogs underwater and they may never be seen again.

One of the biggest reasons why alligators attack dogs is that they’re opportunistic feeders. This means that alligators aren’t picky with their food and they’ll adapt to hunt whatever prey is available to them.

Unlike some reptiles that require specific bugs or vegetables to survive, alligators, have tough stomachs that can digest just about any sort of animal protein. These reptiles are prehistoric and build to survive.

In the wild, alligator diets are variable. Alligators might eat anything from large turtles to ducklings, and will even eat other alligators when needed.

Another reason why alligators attack dogs is that they might resemble their natural prey. Dogs after all are warm, blooded mammals that walk on four legs. From afar they might look like a deer, fox, or coyote. Remember that alligators don’t have the same empathy or logic that we do so to them your pet dog just looks like another prey item.

How To Protect Dogs From Alligators

If you live in an area where alligators also live, it’s almost unavoidable that you’ll have an encounter. Since we’ve established that alligators will attack dogs, you’ll need to know how to protect your dog from an attack. Prevention is the best tactic because once an alligator bites your dog, it can be very difficult to rescue them.

1. Know Where Alligators Live

If there are alligators in your area, you can hypothesize where they will be. Alligators tend to stick to fresh running water when they can. The ideal habitat for an alligator is a slow-moving river.

Unlike crocodiles, alligators won’t be found in the ocean because they can’t tolerate salt water for long. Besides rivers, alligators can be found in ponds, streams, marshes, and areas around bodies of water.

When alligators are sleeping, you’ll often find them on the riverbank or in a gator hole that they’ve dug out themselves. It’s important to educate yourself about where you’ll run into alligators especially if you’re with your dog.

2. Check The Area And Stay Alert

There are actually quite a few signs that alligators leave to indicate their presence. Those who have been living around alligators for all their lives usually won’t have trouble spotting these signs. However, if you’re a newbie, it might be hard for you to tell if an alligator is around.

Alligators often leave scratches on the banks of the river they dwell in and like to hang out in the shallows. You might be able to detect irregularities on the surface of the water where the alligator scales are poking through or where they’re blowing bubbles from down below.

Lastly, if you hear a faint hissing noise or even a bellow, you can assume an alligator is nearby even if you can’t see them.

It’s important to always stay alert when you’re in alligator territory. These reptiles can stay incredibly still and can be difficult to spot. It’s one of the reasons why dogs might run up on them without even realizing an attack is about to happen.

If you do see an alligator, keep your distance. Even though these reptiles might seem still and lethargic they can move quickly when stimulated.

3. Keep Your Dog on a Leash

One of the most foolproof methods of keeping your dog, safe from an alligator attack, is keeping them on a leash. If your dog is on a leash, you have control over where they go and how fast they get there.

You’ll be able to keep watch for things that they might not be paying attention to. You can also make sure that they stay far away from bodies of water or tall grasses where gators might be lurking. Although leashes might be frustrating for you and your furry friend they’re worth it if they keep them safe from an attack.

But, if you allow your leashed dog to get to the water, you’re still at risk.

4. Don’t Let Your Dog Drink From Bodies of Water

The biggest mistake you can make in alligator territory is to let your dog drink from a body of water.

We know, in the summer it gets hot on dog walks. But, no matter how hot your dog is try to not let them drink from unknown bodies of water. Not only can natural still water contain bacteria and viruses, but it could also host a surprise alligator.

When your dog stops to take a drink of water, they lower their guard. Their head goes down, their neck is exposed, and they’re in a prone position. This is exactly the kind of position you don’t want an alligator to catch your dog in. Member that alligators like to dwell in the shallows, and that’s exactly where your dog will take a drink from.

Try to come prepared for dog walks with a water bottle and bowl so they can have a drink in a safe location.

5. Don’t Let Your Dog Go For A Swim

All right, we might have lied, letting your dog swim in an unknown body of water is actually the biggest mistake. You can make an alligator territory.

If it’s not obvious by now, alligators are top-tier predators. Your dog decides to go for a swim with an alligator. The chances are low of them surviving it. Dogs aren’t the best swimmers in the first place and if they’re attacked from below, they don’t stand a chance.

Keep your dog on a leash, and you’ll be able to keep them out of any bodies of water that you don’t approve of.

What To Do If An Alligator Attacks Your Dog

We know why alligators, attack dogs, and how to avoid alligator attacks but what if it still happens anyways?

It’s hard to say definitively what you should do if an alligator attacks your dog because it kind of depends on the situation. We know you love your dog, but are you willing to die saving them?

It’s a thought you’ll have to consider if an alligator attacks your dog. Sadly, there are stories of people trying to save their animals and losing their lives in the process. This South Carolina woman was drowned by an alligator while trying to save her dog after it was attacked.

On the other hand, this video shows a man who saved his puppy by wrestling with a small American alligator.

Even though this video is inspirational, it’s not the course of action for everyone.

If your dog is attacked by a large alligator, the best thing to do may be to run away. Unfortunately, the alligator may come after you once they’re finished with your dog. If you feel like you need to stay and fight, you can try throwing large rocks at the alligator or poking them with a stick.

If you’re already close to the alligator, many sources suggest gouging its eyes with your fingers or hitting it on the head. If you have weapons on you, you can try to use them against the alligator, but make sure you don’t hurt yourself or your dog in the process.

Hopefully, by taking preventative measures, you won’t ever have to deal with making the decision of what to do if an alligator attacks your dog.

Final Thoughts

Why alligators attack dogs is pretty clear. Dogs look like an alligator’s ideal prey item. Plus, alligators are opportunistic feeders and will eat just about anything in order to survive.

Sometimes dogs might be aloof and not pay attention and run right into an alligator. This is where prevention comes in. The best way to keep your dog safe from an alligator attack is to never get close to one in the first place.