Do American Alligators Attack Dogs? (5 Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe)

Written by Nixza Gonzalez
Published: December 9, 2023
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If you live in a state like Florida or Louisiana, you must be extra careful when walking and caring for your furry friends. Although alligator attacks are rare, they can still happen and are more familiar with pets like dogs than humans. So, how can you prevent your furry friend from getting too close to an alligator? Follow along to discover if American alligators attack dogs and five ways to keep your pets safe.

Do American Alligators Attack Dogs?

Large menacing American alligator Alligator mississippiensis in the wetland and marsh at the Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, Florida, USA

American alligators can attack dogs.


American alligators can attack dogs, although it isn’t extremely common. These attacks, though, are more common on dogs than humans. This is likely because dogs look easy prey to alligators compared to humans. Still, attacks are rare, and statistics are unclear.

Although rare, it’s best to be vigilant! Alligators attack dogs when dogs get too close to their territory. If an alligator creeps in tall grass or slightly below the water’s surface, your furry friend won’t know it’s there.

There are yearly reports and accounts of dogs losing (or almost losing) their lives to alligators. Sometimes, owners lose their lives keeping their dogs safe. For instance, in February of 2023, an 85-year-old woman was killed by an alligator when defending the lives of her two dogs.

5 Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe From Alligators

Now that we know if American alligators attack dogs, we can discuss five ways to protect your pets from these large predators. A bonus general tip to keep you and your pet safe is to ignore alligators. There is more to it. Ignoring alligators means you shouldn’t touch, harass, or call on them. It’s even more important that you don’t feed an American alligator. They are wild animals. Feeding them can disrupt their feeding habits and get them comfortable and used to humans.

1. Walk Your Pet on a Leash

Cute basenji dog with harness and leash on city street

To keep your pet safe from alligators and other dangers, it’s best to keep them on a leash.

©New Africa/

The first tip we suggest is always to keep your pet on a leash on their walk. This is only needed if you live in an area with American alligators and a body of freshwater. The size of the body of freshwater doesn’t matter. Alligators don’t need a lot of space. You can even find them in retention ponds and small lakes in Florida.

Keeping your pet on a leash can help you guide them away from the water. It’s also a great way to keep them away from other dangers, like the road.

2. Avoid Walking Near Lakes or Ponds

Florida is the unofficial home of alligators, and residents encounter these reptiles in golf courses, homes, and roads.

©Jillian Cain Photography/

It can be hard to keep your pet away from lakes and ponds. Although hard, it’s important. American alligators are excellent at hiding and sometimes rest on the shore of bodies of water. If there is a sidewalk, use it! Keep your pet on a leash and on the sidewalk, away from the water’s shore. This also allows you and your pet to run away if you see an alligator. If you’re too close to the water, the alligator can lunge. They are very fast! An American alligator can run up to 30 mph in short bursts, although 20 mph is more common.

3. Don’t Leave Your Pet Unattended Outside

This next tip is connected to our first one. If you want to keep your dog or cat safe from alligator attacks, it’s best to keep them inside. Please don’t leave them outside unattended. This is especially important for living near lakes, ponds, rivers, or canals. An alligator only takes a few seconds to snatch your pet away! Other animals, including coyotes, wolves, bears, and more, also threaten pets.

4. Prevent Your Pet From Swimming

Irish Wolfhound. Shot of the head of a swimming dog.

Dogs shouldn’t swim in lakes or ponds with alligators. If you live in a state like Florida, always assume at least one gator is in the water.


Sometimes, our furry friends have a mind of their own and run into the water without thinking of it. Keep your pet away from bodies of freshwater. Try not to let them swim in lakes, ponds, or rivers. To give your pet a water experience, fill up a small pool in your backyard, front yard, or bathtub! Dogs and cats are nearly entirely defenseless against American alligators.

5. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Last but not least is to be aware of your surroundings. This is important even if you don’t live in an area with alligators. Keep your eye out on the water, the shore of the lake, and your pet! If you see an alligator, give it space and head in a different direction. American alligators aren’t always aggressive, but no one wants to be on the receiving end of a hungry or angry gator.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © passion4nature/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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