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Threats to pets that roam outdoors


Last updated 12/2/2021 at 10:09pm

While pets can enjoy time outdoors, there are several potential dangers that can affect them.

FALLBROOK – Domesticated pets may have evolved from wild animals, but it has been some time since dogs were needed to hunt like wolves or domesticated cats had to survive like wild leopards or tigers. While pets can enjoy time outdoors, it's important to avoid leaving them to their own devices for too long.

The online health resource Healthcare for Pets says responsible pet ownership necessitates certain precautions to keep pets safe when they venture out of the home. The following is a list of potential dangers that can affect pets outdoors.

¥ Pesticides and poisons: Pet owners may use pet-friendly products in and around their homes. However, there's no guarantee that your neighbors do the same. Common lawn and garden products, including insecticides and pesticides, may cause anything from mild irritations to toxic poisoning.

¥ Weather: A fur coat does not offer complete protection from conditions like extreme weather. Pets can experience hypothermia or heat stroke if they are exposed to extreme weather for prolonged periods of time.

¥ Automobiles: Dogs and cats that wander can be struck by vehicles and/or ingest potentially harmful substances leaking from cars or trucks. Automotive coolant (antifreeze) is often sweet and brightly colored, which attracts curious pets. Ethylene glycol in coolant is fatal to dogs and cats if ingested. Outdoor cats may hide or seek warmth in car engines, putting them at risk for injury.

¥ Exposure to illnesses: Young animals should not spend prolonged periods of time outdoors before they are vaccinated. However, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior recommends that pet parents begin taking puppies on walks and public outings as early as one week after their initial rounds of vaccinations (roughly seven weeks old) because this is the window of time when socialization skills are learned.

¥ Parasites: Bugs and parasites may be lurking outdoors. Parasitic worm larvae, fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks can be harmful to pets. Ask your vet about year-round flea/tick/heartworm preventatives if a pet spends time outdoors.

¥ Other animals: Wild animals pose a risk to domesticated pets. They can pass illnesses on to pets or engage them in scuffles that result in injuries or even death. If companion animals are not spayed or neutered, pet owners may have to confront unexpected pregnancies after pets spend time outdoors.

Pets that spend time outdoors should be supervised whenever they leave the confines of their homes.


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