Ten Dangers in Your Backyard

  1. Raccoons

Their urine can carry a disease call Leptospirosis that is contagious to dogs (and humans). It can make a dog very sick and can be fatal if it is not treated quickly. There is a vaccine available to prevent your dog from contracting this disease.

The feces of a racoon can carry a parasite called raccoon roundworm. Dogs can serve as a host for this parasite. Please make sure that you properly clean up any areas with raccoon feces and deworm your dog on a regular basis.  It is very rare, but people can also become sick from this parasite and it can be fatal. It is transmitted by ingesting the eggs.

  1. Herbicides, pesticides and insecticides, rodenticides

These are all poisonous to cats and dogs. Walking on lawns that have just been fertilized can cause irritation. Cats are notorious for keeping themselves clean so any “icide” residues from the garden or grass that gets on their fur can be ingested when grooming.

  1. Cocoa Bean Mulch

It contains theobromine and caffeine, two ingredients that are also found in chocolate and are poisonous to dogs and cats.  Ingesting it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, an increased heart rate, shaking and seizures. If your dog has ingested cocoa mulch, call your veterinary office right away or go to your closest emergency clinic.

  1. Sticks

It is great to play fetch with your dog using a stick but beware of it being caught in his throat. If a dog catches the stick the wrong way, it could get lodged in his throat and cause choking. Dogs also like to chew on sticks and this can be dangerous too as swallowing larger pieces can cause an obstruction.

  1. Plants and Flowers in your garden

Many popular flowers that we have in our backyards are poisonous to pets.  Some may cause minor irritation or symptoms, others can be fatal. Some plants can cause mouth sores or burns while others can be toxic and cause tremors, vomiting and other abnormal behaviours and symptoms. Check your backyard to see if any of the plants on this list are in your backyard. This list is not an extensive list but includes the more common backyard garden plants.

  • Flowers grown from bulbs: Daffodils, Tulips, Crocus, Hyacinth, Lilies, and much more
  • Hostas
  • Begonias
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Milkweed   (Great for Monarchs but not for our pets!)
  • Azalea/Rhododendron
  • Baby’s Breath:  this flower is found in many flower arrangements as well
  • Yew:  the bark and leaves are poisonous
  • Nightshade plants:  tomato, potato, pepper and eggplant – the leaves, stems and unripe fruit/vegetables are poisonous. Never allow your dog to dig up and eat a raw potato.
  • Onions, garlic, chives
  • Fruit Trees – Peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and cherries in themselves are not poisonous but the pits of these fruits are.
  • Grape vines – if you one in your backyard and any grapes fall to the ground, please make sure your dog or cat does not eat any. Grapes are toxic.
  1. The Sun

Dogs and cats can get a sun burn just like we can.  They can also get heat stroke if they are outside in the hot and humid weather.  Keep outdoor time to a minimum on very hot days and take some water for your canine friend if you are taking a trip to the dog park.  Senior pets and puppies are more at risk of being affected by the sun.

  1. Construction leftovers

Nails, screws, pieces of wood, cement or plastic  – construction workers are normally pretty good at clean up when they are finished, however, please consider doing a once over in your yard and examine any nook and crannies where something may be hidden. Our pets are pretty good at finding and chewing on things they should not be chewing on.

  1. Ticks

Ticks carry diseases that can be transmitted to our pets (and humans). Many people believe that their pets are only at risk if they walk in grassy or wooded areas when in fact they are also found in the backyards of homes that are near these areas. Ticks do not mind the colder weather and are active in temperatures above 4 degrees Celsius. Please consider tick prevention for your dogs.

  1. Skunks

No need to really explain why skunks are a danger! They may not pose a health risk but it is a huge inconvenience for dog owners. If there are skunks in your area, think first before letting your dog out into the backyard in the evening or middle of the night.

  1. Mice and rats

Unfortunately, some of our canine friends have an affinity for dead animals. Cats are hunters and if they go outside will often chase and catch mice. Usually, cats will bring these “gifts” home for us to “appreciate but some cats will also make their catch a meal.

There are a few reasons to ensure our pets do not eat mice or rats. 1) Simply put, it is gross, 2) Mice and rats can carry internal parasites that can also be passed on to your dog or cat when eaten, and 3) if it is a dead mouse or rat it is possible they are dead because they ingested poison which in turn, can be absorbed into the bloodstream of your pet.

Written by Sarah F.