Backyards can be wonderful places for your dog to run around off-leash and freely explore. But they can also be deadly to your dog if you have dangerous plants or weak areas in the fencing. In this post, I will share how to make sure your backyard is safe for your dog and fun for you both!
Here are the most common things in an average backyard that can spell trouble for a dog.
- Trees that bear fruit with pits. Peaches, apricots, avocado, date trees, palm trees, and other common trees that bear fruit that contains a pit can cause bowel blockages if your dogs eat the fruit.
Many dogs enjoy nibbling on fallen fruit. Several of my clients’ dogs get regular diarrhea that coincides with the ripening of fruit trees in their backyards. here in California, we grow lots of fruit. Our dogs will nibble on the fallen fruit. Avocados can be deadly. Dogs will eat the entire fruit, pit and all. These pits are common causes of bowel blockages.
While many fruits are not poisonous, many fruits eaten will cause diarrhea. And fruits with pits like palm trees have caused bowel blockages even in large dogs like Labrador Retrievers.
Toxic Plants: Poison Ivy, poison oak, nightshade, Belladonna, Poison Hemlock, Grapes, Avocado, Pokeweed, Jimson Weed, Giant Hogweed, Poison Sumac, Castor Bean, Morning Glories (the seeds contain lysergic acid which is a natural form of LSD), Daylily, Larkspur, Hyacinth, Hosta, English Ivy, Yew, Elephant ears, Autumn crocus, Daffodils
If you have grapevines, keep the lower parts of the vine trimmed. When the grapes are forming, remove the fruit that your dog can reach if you keep the plants.
Oregano -this one is dangerous for cats. Eating the leaves will cause intestinal distress. The essential oil of oregano should never be used to treat cats as it can cause liver failure.
Oleanders are very poisonous and very common in warm sunny places like Los Angeles.
Loose Fences and Gates
When you go outside to play with your dog, take a moment to walk your fence line. Watch for any damaged or loose areas in the fence. Are there any holes near the fencing? Loose fencing and gates can allow predators in and your pets out. The leading cause of death in dogs under 10 years old is being hit by cars. Keeping your pets safe in the yard is vital. Fix any loose fence boards or gates immediately.
If you live in an area that has mountain lions or coyotes, do not leave your dog outside alone. Lions and coyotes are very agile and can easily jump over the average backyard fence.
Is your dog a digger? Are there any holes near the fence line? Check your yard regularly for possible escape points and fill holes. You can fill holes with the dog’s poop which makes digging very unpleasant and deters them. You can also use coffee grounds to fill holes. If that doesn’t work, use rocks, bricks, chicken wire, or a combination of these things. Dogs that escape risk injury, theft, and death.
Lock your backyard gates to deter thieves from stealing your pets. It is beyond my comprehension how anyone could stoop that low. But, it happens every day. It isn’t just the young pretty dogs, either. I personally know people with senior dogs, with poor health, that have been stolen. It is heartbreaking.
Do you have a pool, jacuzzi, creek, or pond? Does your dog know how to swim and exit the water source? I have seen dogs that hate water run around pools and fall into pools. Some dogs love water and are happy to jump in a pool and swim all day long. Other dogs can find it difficult to exit a swimming pool. If you have a swimming pool or other large body of water in your backyard, teach your dog where to find the stairs and how to use them. Practice this with your dog. Never leave your dog unattended in the backyard with a swimming pool. Sadly, many dogs die each year in their own backyard swimming pools.
Take the time now to walk around your backyard, review things that need repair, fix the problems before they become a tragedy.