Keep your pet away from the dangers lurking outdoors with these tips

By Jackie Middleton

How to keep pets safe outside

Spring might be blooming with beauty, but it can also be dangerous for pets. Our four-legged companions become infatuated with all the robust smells, tastes and sights of the new season. Dr. Jim Berry, a New Brunswick veterinarian and the vice-president of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, offers these springtime safety tips.

Plant safely

Ensure that lilies, hyacinths, daffodils and tulips are out of reach of inquisitive pets. Chewing on the flowers, leaves or bulbs of these plants exposes your pet to toxins that can cause excessive vomiting and diarrhea, or even death. If you can’t control your pet’s foraging, ban these blooms from your garden.

Have a pet-friendly lawn

Your dog or cat can die from ingesting insecticides, herbicides, cocoa mulch or slug bait. “Avoid these products if you have pets,” says Berry. “Animals die from them all the time.” Even relatively safe garden products like fertilizer with bone meal, and cedar mulch, can cause life-threatening health problems such as intestinal blockages, depending on how much of it he eats. Instead, ask at your garden centre about pet-friendly lawn care practices. “You don’t need to use dangerous products,” says Berry.

Pet-proof your shed or garage

“These are no-go zones for pets,” says Berry. Sharp tools, including shovels, pruning shears and rakes, pose cutting hazards. Antifreeze, mouse or rat poison, and barbecue briquettes can be lethal if ingested. To avoid an unnecessary injury or poisoning, keep these out of reach of your pets.

Survey your backyard

Check fences to make sure winter’s wear and tear hasn’t created new pet-sized escape routes.

How to tell when it’s time for the vet

Pets often come in contact with unwanted outdoor pests including fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites and heartworms. Your vet has the scoop on the safest, most effective pest prevention for your dog or cat. He or she will make sure your pet gets the appropriate product for his breed and weight, whether it’s a pill, or a vaccine solution that’s applied directly to the skin. “We see some nasty poisonings because people put topical dog products on cats, or a big-dog product on a little dog,” says Berry. A vet will eliminate the guesswork for you. While you’re at their office, also ask if your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. Cats and dogs can easily pick up viral and bacterial infections or diseases if they are not properly immunized.

This article was originally titled "Don’t let curiosity kill your cat (or dog)" in the May 2012 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience–and never miss an issue!

Best Health Magazine, May 2012

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