Top 10 Animal Threats to Your Pet

These furry meteorologists are actually a member of the squirrel family, and will bite and claw their way out of a predator's grasp, such as an overzealous beagle, despite being herbivores. Though gardeners from Bill Murray in "Caddyshack" to Martha Stewart might approve of the family hound chasing them off, the sharp claws they use to tunnel beneath suburban lawns can cause some serious damage.

Because these ground dwellers typically like areas where forest meets field, according to National Geographic, newer housing developments that have cleared previously untouched land have pitted them against a variety of outdoor pets.

Rozanski said she hasn't heard of many groundhog attacks, but like 80 percent of the animals on this list, it's most likely the case of a curious pet getting too close for comfort.

"We'll see kicks by horses a lot or kicked by cow, those things are relatively common, as well," Rozanski said. "Knowing your animal and then keeping the animal from annoying other animals is a good way to keep them safe."

Pet Attacker No. 9: Skunk

Pepe Le Pew may have been a harmless womanizer, but in reality the average skunk can really ruin your pet's day. They are actually sometimes kept as pets but only after their scent glands, which produce a putrid-smelling, oily, yellowish liquid, have been removed.

Their nauseating defense mechanism often proves foul enough to teach other animals a lesson they won't forget. But the potential for defense doesn't stop there, as skunks possess sizable claws that are intended for digging but can cause some serious damage.

Rozanski said skunks are much more likely to spray than to get into a physical encounter, but it is possible.

The skunk's aggressive nature comes from its surprising carnivorousness. Though they are technically omnivorous and will eat vegetables, the skunk typically takes down small rodents and insects, according the Columbia Encyclopedia.

While the skunk weighs only 6 to 14 pounds and likely would not kill a larger dog, veterinarians pointed out that skunks are a frequent carrier of rabies.

"Just be sure that your dog and cat that goes outdoors is protected against rabies," said Hohenhaus.

Pet Attacker No 10: Rat

Aggressive, intelligent and gluttonous, rats will do what it takes to protect themselves when threatened.

Through stories of rats eating children in classics like "The Jungle," and even recent reports of infants found with hundreds of rat bites, this rodent has got a bad reputation.

The genus Rattus actually contains hundreds of different species, and the common house rat is most likely to put the hurt on your beloved pooch. Because of their scavenger nature and desire for warm shelter, rats are likely to come into contact not only with pets but with people as well.

But even New York City veterinarian Hohenhaus had a hard time believing that rats made the top 10 list of animals that cause injuries to pets.

"I've never treated a rat bite," said Hohenhaus, who said she would guess a dog with a rat bite would more likely get it trying to hunt the rat than in any form of aggression.

Rozinski agreed.

"I've never heard of a rat biting a dog, but I think people might make that up," said Rozinski.

As for cats, Hohenhaus said, she's never treated one for rodent bites.

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