Summer’s Here! Is Your Backyard Safe for Your Dog?

With training my rescues and, attempting to build my media company I have not had time of late to write. However, it is the time of year when I usually talk about backyard safety for your dog. The weather is getting nicer, and the summer will soon be upon us. Do you know what hazards lie in your back yard? Well we are about to tell you!

Danger: Insects Ahead

Fleas and ticks can be more than a nuisance, as both can carry various diseases. Be sure to use a flea and tick preventative for your dog; if you are not sure which to use, ask your veterinarian. You can help reduce the risk of fleas by not keeping piles of yard debris, as fleas tend to like warm, shady spots with moisture. If you have a pile of yard debris such as grass clippings and leaves for compost, be sure to enclose the pile so that your dog doesn’t choose it as a spot to lie down on. Ticks can carry disease such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease. Ticks like longer grass as well as brush, such as woodsy undergrowth. Keeping the grass mowed to an appropriate height will help reduce the incidence of ticks. If your dog is likely to encounter ticks regardless, consider talking to your veterinarian about the Lyme vaccination for your dog.

Some insects are less obvious. Look for other insects that can cause problems, such as wasps and poisonous spiders. Some stinging insects, including some species of bees and wasps, construct homes in the ground, such as along sheds, foundations and fences. Unfortunately, these are areas where dogs tend to investigate often and since dogs often investigate with their nose, they run a heightened risk of getting stung on their sensitive noses. Look for small holes in these areas and if you find any, handle them accordingly.

Poisoning Weeds, Bugs and other Vermin? Don’t Poison the Dog too!

Many homeowners employ herbicides to control weeds and pesticides to control a wide variety of insects, such as grubs and ants. While those products can be applied to a lawn and not affect humans, it can be a different story for dogs. Not necessarily because the product is more poisonous to dogs, but dogs tend to actually lay down on the grass, run barefoot on it and then lick themselves – ingesting the herbicides and pesticides in the process.

Herbicides and pesticides come in a wide variety of formulations. If you must apply them to your property, be sure to not exceed the recommended application rate. If using a liquid formulation, look for those that have a shorter drying time. If your dog tends to nibble on grass (as mine do), consider skipping herbicides and pesticides completely. Never assume that a pesticide can’t be reached by your dog and don’t assume that your dog will be “smart enough” to not gobble down poison such as rat poison. Poisons are designed to be appealing to their intended target; unfortunately, what might smell good to a snake, rat or gopher is just as likely to smell appealing to your dog.

Don’t Overlook the Greenery

Plants can be dangerous to your dog too. This is especially important if you are purchasing a home (or recently purchased a home) where a previous owner may have planted plants that you might not be familiar with – or you might not be aware of. For example, daffodils are often a welcome sight in spring and by summer, they are usually trimmed down. By fall, there might not even be a clue that daffodils are present on the property. Yet if a dog decides to chow down on daffodils, the effects on the dog’s liver can be quite nasty.

Dogs Wear Speedos, Don’t They?

Swimming pools can be great fun but they also carry risks. Be sure that your dog knows how to swim and how to exit the pool; put up a see-through pool fence so you can see if your dog goes into the pool and avoid leaving your dog unsupervised when he can get to the pool. Dogs can and do drown. Be aware that ground temperatures near pools (particularly in-ground pools with cement or pavers as a surrounding feature) can become quite hot. Older dogs and short-nosed dogs can be at increased risk of heatstroke. Be sure to check on your dog frequently if his idea of a perfect time is to lie down close to the pool. Consider putting a raised dog bed in a shady spot close to the action so that your dog has a spot out of the sun and with airflow underneath him. If you have natural water or a built-in pond on your property, the same cautions apply. Of course, be sure to keep fresh water (not pool water!) available at all times

Pretty Can Be Dangerous

Garden mulches and edgings, as beautiful as they are, can also be dangerous. Some mulches, such as licorice and cocoa mulches, can have a negative effect on a dog. Keep an eye on your dog when you put new mulches down in the garden; if you catch your dog eating the mulch, consider replacing it with a different mulch. Garden edging, particularly narrow metal and thin plastic types, can be dangerous to a dog’s soft pads. Dogs might not stop to consider the risk when running after a bird, squirrel or even just during a rough-and-tumble play session with another dog. If you have ever cut your hand on a sharp metal edge (such as the lid from a can), you can appreciate how much that a thin slice into soft flesh can hurt. It is worse for a dog, as they walk on those tender paw pads.

Every home and yard environment is unique. It would be impossible to identify in an article every type of possible danger that could await a dog in a yard. Take the time to walk around your property, even poking around the bushes and plants at the height your dog is, to be sure you identify any hidden dangers in your yard. Your dog might not be able to thank you for your diligence but you’ll know you did the right thing.

Give ’em Enough Rope…

Many people feel it is okay to tie their dog out in the yard and leave them unsupervised. Perhaps your yard is not fenced, and you want Fido to get some air, so you figure it won’t hurt to tie him up outside for a while. This is a big mistake! Tie outs can be dangerous for your dog when used unsupervised. Dogs like to chase squirrels, neighborhood cats, any wild life really. If you are going to tie your dog out in the yard, make sure that the tie out you are using is long enough to give your dog the freedom to roam and find shade. Make sure there is a source of drinking water close by, and that there is nothing the dog can tangle itself up in. Also, (and this is crucial) make sure there are no fences which your dog might jump over in pursuit of the aforementioned squirrel. Far too many dog owners have come home to find their beloved pet has hung itself on a fence.

Well that’s all for today, hope you all have a wonderfully happy and safe summer!

Until Next Time