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From Valley Cottage Animal Hospital For Pet Owners: Outdoor Hazards
by Jaqueline Nicholson, DVM

Warmer temperatures are coming and all of us pet lovers should be wary of certain outdoor exposures. If you regularly leave your dog outside without your supervision, you are potentially exposing your pet to certain hazards. As a pet owner, you can reduce these risks, once you’re aware of them. Here are some of the most common, preventable hazards:

1) Depending on where you live, some very dangerous animals may visit your yard—especially in the night hours. Some examples of such animals include skunk, possum, and raccoon. It is very important to keep your pet’s vaccines current. If you suspect or witness your pet being bitten or scratched by one of these animals, please have your veterinarian examine your pet for any wounds that may need to be treated. In addition, eating a dead animal can result in a gastrointestinal obstruction, infestation of intestinal parasites, or bacterial infection.

2) If your dog isn’t properly trained to walk off a leash—the risk is much greater for getting into fights with other dogs, as well as getting hit by a car. Training classes are readily available in our area, and getting your dog familiar with certain commands will help keep your pet safe.

3) Some plants are toxic. You should especially know what is growing in your own yard. As we approach spring, increased rainfall also brings mushroom growth—some of which are highly toxic to your pet.

4) Various pesticides/herbicides can be dangerous for your pet. Unless you happen to know that these substances have been applied in your neighborhood, you may not see them. Rodenticides, and the bodies of pests that have died from eating these chemicals can be lethal to dogs if ingested.

5) Animal feces can transmit parasites, as well as bacterial/viral infection to your pet. The most reliable solution is to keep feces picked up from the yard and closely supervise the pet outdoors—especially if he/she tends to eat feces.

6) Eating other things in the yard can be a lot more dangerous than feces eating. Items such as nails, screws and broken glass are sometimes found on the ground. Dogs also commonly eat rocks and other things that have to be removed surgically. Fencing your yard can make it easier to provide your dog with a safer enclosure.

7) Many people are not aware that some toads can poison a pet when taken into the animal’s mouth. Porcupine quills need to be removed by your veterinarian, and the wounds need to be evaluated in order to prevent infection. Insect stings can be extremely serious, as can the bites of venomous snakes.

These are only some of the things that can hurt or kill your pet. Taking some precautions can spare you and your pet some devastating problems. Every effort should be made to remove any hazards from your yard. Make sure your veterinarian knows of any dangerous exposures whenever your pet is being examined. It may help to save your pet’s life. Have a safe and enjoyable summer! k

Dr. Nicholson was born in New York City and brought up in northern New Jersey. She graduated from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2007. Over the last nine years, Dr. Nicholson gained extensive experience in emergency and specialist hospitals—including The Animal Medical Center in New York City. She is expert in a wide range of specialty fields including Emergency Medicine, Surgery, Internal Medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and Neurology. This experience has been invaluable to both our team and our clients.

Dr. Nicholson’s special interests include feline behavior, oncology, and canine and feline soft tissue surgery.