pet safety at homeThere’s nothing like the good old outdoors in the spring! The fresh air and exercise is great for you and your pets. It’s important to remember, however, that your yard can also hold dangers. This is the first in a series that talks about the dangers, but also about prevention and a plan of action to take if your furry friend gets into trouble.

Creature Creeps. Keep your dog within your sight as much as possible, especially at night. In North Carolina, we have several predators that might see your pet as a tasty treat. Coyotes, skunks, raccoons, wild cats, wolves, groundhogs, foxes, and beavers can carry rabies. Snakes, bees, and wasps pose a different type of risk. Try to keep your pet away from areas where snakes can hide or stinging insects can build nests. Read what to do if your pet does have an encounter.

Poison Plants. Before you buy a plant or shrub for your yard, research to see if it might be toxic to pets. Some favorite, but toxic, plants include Autumn Crocus, Azalea, Lilies, Yew, and Sago Palm. Like you, pets can also be allergic to poison ivy. Your vegetable garden also holds dangers. Tomato plants (not the fruit), onions, garlic, and some mushrooms pose a danger.

Chemical Cautions. It goes without saying that you need to safeguard that your pet stays out of chemicals like fertilizer, pesticides, and car fluids. You may not think about barbecue lighter fluid, charcoal, and even some types of mulch, all of which contain harmful ingredients.

Sticks and Sun! Playing fetch with a stick is always a favorite, but make sure your dog doesn’t gnaw on it too long. Pieces of wood can puncture your dog’s mouth or throat, and introduce molds, fungi, or bacteria into the bloodstream. If a piece of stick is swallowed, it can do damage in the digestive tract.

And yes, your pet can get sunburned. Cats with white faces and ears and some short haired dogs are especially vulnerable. On those hot and sunny days, limit your pet’s time outdoors when the sun is at its peak. You can also apply a special pet sunscreen.

Wait! Is No Place Safe?! Of course it is! Pet proofing your yard and garden is an important part of keeping your home safe. There’s never a way to eliminate all of life’s risks, but with a bit of forethought and a lot of diligence, your pet – just like the rest of your family – can be safe at home.

Read Safe at Home. Part 2.