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Doorstep Dangers Can Be Deadly for Pets

Pets and the great outdoors often seem to go hand in hand, or perhaps that’s paw in paw.

Especially for cats and dogs, a little freedom to roam seems natural. Taking a pet for a stroll, letting them run in a fenced backyard, or even letting them loose in a rural area seems perfectly natural.

It can also be fatal.

Besides the legal implications (check your local pet laws), even large pets are vulnerable to several threats when allowed outside without supervision or adequate control. Poisons, plants or chemicals that are dangerous for your pet, biting and stinging critters, traffic and more are among the potential problems.

Unexpected Dangers

Some threats may be surprising. In growing suburban areas, pet owners may not realize that today’s subdivision was last year’s farmland, forest or prairie. It’s very possible that predators like coyotes, foxes or bobcats are still around. Especially towards evening or early morning, letting even a fair-sized dog out unsupervised may be an invitation for disaster. In some situations, even the presence of a human may not deter hungry wildlife, which can attack and be gone before you know it.

More likely are pets coming into contact with antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol, which has a sweet taste that attracts animals but is deadly if consumed even in small quantities. This is one threat you can control somewhat: look for antifreeze that contains propylene glycol, which is safe for animals. But remember, a neighbor may not be so thoughtful.

Landscape Landmines

Lawn and garden chemicals are another outdoor threat. Plant food and fertilizer, especially, can be fatal to a pet. Some plants can be irritating or poisonous. A good strategy is to research garden plants before you bring them home and look into wild plants that may grow in your area.

In some areas a big problem involves traps and poisons used by pet control companies or, in rural areas, fur trappers. This varies because of local laws and local pests, but some squirrel traps can be dangerous for both cats and dogs, for example. Rodent poison is quite dangerous and a poison can harm or kill pets if they eat a dead rodent that was killed.

It’s also good to think about your neighbor’s pets or wild animals. Trash cans and tin cans both pose problems. Cats or dogs can be cut if they lick an improperly disposed of can. Pets and wild animals can sometimes get their head stuck in a can, so its important to crush cans before disposal.

Most pet owners can go years without confronting some of these threats, but it can only take one encounter to bring tragedy. That's why it's a good idea to look around before letting your beloved pet over the doorstep!