Are foxes dangerous to humans & dogs?

are foxes dangerous
Foxes are not dangerous to humans, as they have a natural fear of people. Foxes are also generally not dangerous to pets, such as dogs. However, a fox may attack a pet to defend its den filled with baby cubs.

Foxes are known to be clever and shy creatures. Red foxes are the most common type of fox and can be seen in urban and rural areas.

Foxes are nocturnal but may still be seen during the daytime. But don’t worry if you see one because foxes are generally not a threat to humans or their pet dogs and cats.

Are foxes dangerous to humans?

Foxes are not dangerous to humans. If you don’t bother a fox, the fox won’t bother you.

Foxes have a inborn fear of humans. They will flee when they smell, hear, or see a human nearby. Foxes are one of the least aggressive wild animals. 

A fox will only attack if it is cornered, sick, or protecting its kits. Cornering or trapping a fox will make it feel scared and lash out in defense. The fox may bite a human if it feels it has no escape route.

If you approach a fox den, which is home to fox cubs, the adult foxes may bite you to protect the babies.

Do foxes carry diseases?

Yes, foxes can carry diseases, although it is rare.

If a fox bites a human for no apparent reason, it is likely to have the rabies virus. Foxes rarely have rabies. It is more common for raccoons and skunks to have rabies than foxes.

These are signs that a fox may be rabid:

  • Staggering
  • Paralysis 
  • Walking in circles, roaming, and walking with no apparent destination 
  • Aggressive behavior 

If a fox has bitten you, even if the bite doesn’t look bad, seek medical attention immediately. 

Along with rabies, foxes carry other diseases, including Tularemia, Leptospira, worms, amongst others. Humans can catch the diseases that foxes carry.

Diseases are one reason you should never pet a wild fox. Another reason you should not pet a wild fox is that the fox may think it is being attacked, and it may bite you in self-defense. 

fox standing on fallen leaves

Are foxes dangerous to pets?

Foxes are generally not dangerous to adult cats and dogs. A fox may attack a pet if the pet is approaching or threatening the fox’s den filled with its babies.

A fox will bite the pet to protect its kits.

Foxes eat small mammals, so a fox may prey on kittens and other small pets. A fox will usually only attack a dog if the dog attacks first.

Hungry foxes may prey on tiny dogs, like a Chihuahua, but will not attempt to attack a big or medium-sized dog. Foxes will not attempt to fight an animal bigger than themselves.

Even though it is very rare for a fox to attack a dog, it is not impossible. There have been several noteworthy cases of foxes killing small dogs to eat them.  

Foxes can be dangerous to pets based on the diseases they carry. Just like humans, pets can pick up diseases from foxes. They can even pick up diseases from their scat and urine. Pets can catch worms, mange, rabies, and other diseases.

If your pet has either been bitten or scratched by a fox or has interacted with fox scat, take it to the vet immediately.

The pets that foxes attack the most are chickens and rabbits. This is why keeping chickens and rabbits in secure coops is essential. Foxes are much more likely to attack livestock than dogs or cats. 

fox at attention in a field of grass and dried leaves

Should I be worried about a fox in my yard?

Foxes can be a nuisance to homeowners. They can ruin your gardens and flowerbeds. They will knock over your garbage cans in search of food.

Foxes can create dens out of almost anything. These dens can cause damage to your home, barn, shed, or wherever the fox chooses to reside.

Foxes are territorial, so creating a den near your home will make the fox aggressive around you. 

If you keep pets outside, having a fox in your yard may pose a threat to those pets. This should be especially worrisome to people who keep ducks, chickens, lambs, piglets, and rabbits.

Foxes probably don’t pose a threat if you have a big backyard or own a large plot of land, as long as the foxes are a reasonable distance from your actual home. Some homeowners take delight in watching foxes in their yard.

A benefit of foxes in your yard is that they will eat rodents and insects

What attracts foxes to your yard?

Foxes are usually in human yards for shelter and food. 

Foxes dig through trash to eat discarded food. They also may search through your garden to eat insects, vegetables, and fruits.

Your bird feeder will attract foxes because they will eat the bird feed. If you do have a water source near your house, such as a creek, pond, or fountain, foxes may approach to get a drink. 

Foxes seek shelter in barns, sheds, overgrown vegetation, and more. Keeping your yard clean and maintained will help keep foxes away because it won’t allow for many hiding spots.

young fox trotting through a field of brush

What to do if a fox approaches you?

If a fox in fact approaches you—leave it alone.

Some foxes may be friendly and curious. They may seem safe to pet or engage with, but wild animals are unpredictable, and the fox could attack without warning. Usually, foxes approach humans if they have been fed by a human before.

Never feed a fox. Instead, walk away slowly and don’t make any sudden movements.

Don’t corner or threaten the fox, as this may result in an attack. If the fox does not go away, loud noises, such as clapping and yelling, should scare it off.

If it does not get scared and leave after this, it likely is sick, and you should call animal control.


Whitney is a graduate of Georgetown College and a current graduate student at the University of the Cumberlands. She resides in the beautiful state of Kentucky, which she has always appreciated and endeavors to maintain the land's well-being. A lover of animals and the earth, Whitney strives to communicate accurate information that will help readers learn new information, ideas, and become informed stewards of the natural world.

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