SNAKES, NUTS, AND ANTI-FREEZE
Outdoor Safety By Daisy Grace
You may ask what snakes, nuts, and anti-freeze have in common. It’s the same thing the national deficit, chemical weapons, and squirrels have in common. They’re BAD! Precious may think she likes squirrels (Precious: I DO like squirrels. I want one. I will hold him and squeeze him and love him and I will call him “George”), but they really do not want to play with her. Other things we think we like can also be very bad for us. The old cartoon superhero, “The Tick”, said it best when he stated, “Evil is just plain bad!” And a lot of evil can be right outside our doors! We are at the time of year of changing seasons – some pups are enjoying spring while others are watching leaves change and fall – and my mommy and daddy thought this would be a good opportunity for me to bark to you about outdoor safety. Whether you only go outside to do your business or take a walk around the block, or whether you spend a great deal of time out of doors, ask your pawrents to check the yard and make sure you have a safe environment.
For example, we love to chase and romp in the leaves, but I saw an article recently about a pup that was bitten by a snake that was under a pile of leaves that had not been raked up. Another instance – little P loves to eat the nuts that fall on the trail in our favorite park, but I recently read of a doggy that got sick because they ate a nut that had gone bad. You may remember that the same thing happened to my niece, Star. I also saw where someone was preparing their car for winter and their dog got into the antifreeze they had drained from the vehicle. While it may be really tasty, it is deadly. Even one lick can make us very sick or kill us. There is an alternative to antifreeze called propylene glycol that doesn’t affect us. The obvious moral here is to make sure our environment is safe – not only from hazards like these but also free of broken limbs, glass, or other debris that could injure us or we could eat.
Let’s start with the basics. Make sure your shots are up to date, and you are current on your Heartgard and Frontline. While shots, medicines, and fea/tick treatments may not be fun, they protect us. And whenever you go outdoors, no matter how close you normally stay to mommy and daddy, accidents can always happen so make sure you have the appropriate ID. You don’t want to be mistaken for a convict or an illegal alien and you want to be sure you can find your pawrents if they get lost. ID tags, licenses, and microchipping are the best ways of doing this.
Make sure your yard is safe. When mommy and daddy walk the fence line to check it, they need to make sure they check it from our level and fix any place where we can get out. That includes not only holes, but places where the fabric is not anchored to the ground that we could push our way through. For example, even when wearing a cone due to my eye surgery, I was able to push my way under my great-grandpa’s fence. Also make sure we cannot get over the fence by climbing on dog houses or storage sheds. Do your gates close securely? Some dogs can learn how to flip a simple latch. We ain’t stupid! If your yard has a pool, tell mommy and daddy to make sure you are fenced away from it. And remember, we can get trapped under pool covers and drown! They should also teach us how to get out in the event we do fall in. If you have an electronic fence, always ensure the batteries are good and the underground wires are working. Be mindful that the electronic fence will not keep out other animals or – shudder – dog thieves!
For you lucky pups enjoying spring, there are some things to consider in the warm weather. Most importantly is make sure you don’t dehydrate! Remind mommy and daddy to make sure you have plenty of cool water. If we are tethered, the rope can wrap around the water container and dump it, spilling our precious water. Young dogs can be playing so hard they forget to take a drink. And don’t forget, it’s hotter at our level near the pavement than where mommy and daddy area. Hot pavement can burn our paws. Never let them lock you in a car for any amount of time – we can succumb to heat stroke quickly! If the windows are left open in your home, make sure the screening is intact and that we can’t push our way through to the outside. If you go boating, make sure you wear your life vest. We can even help keep cool by wearing our hair short, but if we have very short hair and fair skin, we should put on sunscreen before our romp in the sun. Frozen dog treats – oh yummy – can help us beat the heat, too. Oh, how I miss the warm months!
But alas, winter approaches here. Danger lurks in cold weather complications and a variety of toxins. Temperatures can get downright dangerous for us – especially if we are not used to the cold, have short hair, or don’t have proper shelter. Coats and jackets can help us stay warm while we do our necessaries. Frostbite and hypothermia are rarer in dogs than people, but they can happen. The best bet is to stay inside when the temperatures drop! And stay hydrated – dehydration can also happen in the winter. We already know that antifreeze can kill us, but did you know that windshield washer fluid is also toxic? So our many of the de-icing products used on roads and sidewalks. Not only can we eat or lick this stuff while we walk, but we can pick it up on our paws and lick it off later. I HATE boots, but they might be a good idea if your pet people walk you on city streets and sidewalks. Those of us who live in rural areas know that mice and rodents like to come inside when it’s cold. Many families use rodent poison to deal with them. It is poisonous to us too, and we can even get poisoned by eating the dead mice! Yuck!!!
The holiday season is also approaching. While it may not have too much to do with outdoor safety, some plants – such as the popular mistletoe and holly – are horribly poisonous to us! So are some really tasty foods such as chocolate, alcohol, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, and onions! Also be wary of sharp bones from turkeys and other meats – they can perforate intestines. Find out more at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center website at http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pro_apcc
The ASPCA also has a 24-hour hotline to deal with pet poisoning cases, but there is a per-incident fee. The number is (888) 426-4435. All our pawrents who live outside the US should research the appropriate number at their location. Do it now – when you’re in a panic isn’t the time to be looking! They should also know where the nearest 24 hour veterinary hospital is. One thing you should do is check out the closest 24 hour vet hospital. We have one in our area that after 9:00pm and on weekend they keep vet techs there 24 hours and the vet is on call. He/she are not on the premises. We have another vet office that keeps vets there 24 hours a day, but suggest you call them before you head over there since they are usually in the back and cannot always hear the door bell ringing.
The key is common sense. Pawrents have to look out for us fur-babies because we so often forget to look out for ourselves. And no, Precious, the squirrels still do not want to play with you.