July is Pet Safety Month!
The safety of your beloved pet should be a major concern. Life is just plain hazardous and pets, like children, have a knack for getting into trouble. There is no possibility of covering every risk in this article, so please use some common sense when evaluating the risks. One of the most important precautions is to see the world from our pet’s point of view. And yes, I mean get down on all fours and take a look around. Hazards can include sharp objects, poisons, fall hazards, food (wrong type or gorging), toys, plastic bags, prescription medications, etc. When you get down to our pet’s level, you can see and remove their hazards. Some of the most immediately life-threatening hazards include those that can cause asphyxiation or lead to trauma, such as fall or being hit by a vehicle. And of course every veterinarian’s favorite, the foreign body (something eaten that then blocks the stomach and intestines). Foreign bodies are right up there with porcupine quills as common problems seen at veterinary hospitals.
Here are a few more thoughts on pet safety:
- Cars. By now everyone should be aware of the lethality of leaving pets in hot cars. Do not do it. No excuse. And everyone knows that vehicles kill some of our pets on the roads. Preventing your pet from being hit by a car is primarily the result of good fencing and strong doors. Other things that can help include neutering and good training to prevent wandering. Just getting to the car can be dangerous. The asphalt we park on gets hot in the summer and can burn paws in minutes. But there is another car hazard: allowing your pet to be loose in the car when driving. An unrestrained pet can interfere with the running of vehicle, distract the driver, get under the pedals, etc. But did you also consider that an unrestrained pet could become a projectile in an accident? Every pet should either be in an appropriate cage or be wearing a suitable seatbelt (adapters are available). Cages should also be secure, such as passing the seatbelt around the cage. Fluffy launching from the back window at 50 kph and hitting the driver in the head can be fatal for both.
- Poisons. There are many potential poisons, and many of them are found in the house. It is impossible to list them all here, so please take a few minutes to look at http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com . Plants, foods, drugs, household chemicals have the potential to have adverse affects on our pets. Immediate treatment by your veterinarian is always recommended if there is a suspicion of poisoning.
- Water hazards. Not only can water carry disease like leptospirosis but it is a drowning hazard. Though many pets can recover themselves from falling in a river or lake, swimming pool design can easily lead to drowning. Pools should be fenced to keep unsupervised pets, children and wildlife out, but should also have a sloped escape ramp. High sides and low water levels can make it impossible for your pet to escape.
These are just a few common hazards. Take some time to look around for others that may be in your house, your car and your community. Discuss pet safety with the family. A few simple precautions and a little extra vigilance can reduce the risk of an accident and the emotional and financial burden it can bring. Be safe and enjoy the great weather!