family & Pets


5 shockingly common dog dangers in your own backyard

5 shockingly common dog dangers in your own backyard

Keep an eye out in your backyard for these dangers that might not be as obvious to you and your family. If left unattended, your dog could get into some serious trouble.

1. Your fence

Yes, even the thing installed specifically to keep your dog safe can lead to injuries. If your pooch tries to squeeze through gaps or dig under the fence, it could not only escape, but also get splinters and cuts in the process. Line the bottom of the fence with chicken wire or mesh fencing at least 15cm deep to prevent any getaways.

2. Sticks

Fetching a stick is all fun and games – until your dog swallows parts of the wood. Splinters can get stuck in its mouth and oesophagus, and larger fragments could cut the stomach lining and intestines or cause constipation. Keep your yard free of stray logs and sticks and play fetch with a toy bone instead. Dogs that try to make wood part of their diets are potentially more at risk for these injuries. Does your dog eat lots of things that aren’t food? Ask your vet if a behavioural disorder called pica is the reason. 

3. The sun

Too much fun in the sun could mean problems for your pooch, especially in high humidity. Heatstroke and heat exhaustion can lead to organ dysfunction and even death. Symptoms include restlessness, excessive panting, weakness and confusion. Once a dog starts exhibiting these signs, it can only take 20 minutes for the situation to turn deadly. Make sure your yard has shady places for your pet to rest and give it access to plenty of water. 

4. A flawless green lawn

A study published in Science of the Total Environment found that lawn chemicals are commonly found in the urine of pet dogs, even if the dogs’ yards weren’t treated with herbicides. Exposure to these chemicals can significantly increase your pet’s risk of bladder cancer. What’s worse, they linger on the grass for at least 48 hours, even longer if the grass is dry. Limit the time your dog spends outside after treating your lawn, or take him for a walk instead. Ingesting chemicals like herbicides and fertiliser means even more medical problems for animals. 

Antifreeze can cause drunkenness, halitosis, acute kidney failure, or death.

Store these products out of your dog’s reach.

5. Lakes and ponds

If you live near a lake, pond or stream with warm fresh or salt water, you may be exposed to blue-green algae. These bacteria are often referred to as 'pond scum' because they form floating mats on the water’s surface. Unlike true algae, blue-green algae discolours water and releases harmful toxins. A quick drink from your dog could mean vomiting, diarrhoea or lethargy and lead to more serious medical troubles over time. Unfortunately, blue-green algae can’t be taken care of with chemical treatment. Even if the blooms die, they can still release their toxins into the water.

Written by Claire Nowak. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.