It’s not uncommon for canine companions to possess an innate curiosity and a boundless zest for exploration. While these are among the many traits that make dogs a delight to own, they can also be a source of trouble. This is especially true in the face of plants and animals they may encounter outdoors—some of which are potentially harmful or even fatal to dogs.
From popular houseplants that harbor toxic compounds to wildlife that may not appreciate a canine's curious nose, there are several threats that you should protect your dog from. It’s a responsible pet owner’s duty to be aware of these risks and take proactive measures against them. Here’s some advice from PrideBites on reducing your dog’s chances of getting injured or sick from an encounter with a toxic plant or animal.
1) Educate Yourself on Potential Hazards
Being informed about the specific poisonous plants and animals in your area is the first step towards successfully safeguarding your canine companion. Learn to recognize toxic plants by their looks, colors, and other qualities to anticipate potential risks and take appropriate precautions while around them. The same goes for animals that could serve as hazards, such as cane toads, spiders, and caterpillars. Stay knowledgeable about these dangers so that you know how to lead your dog in environments where you might find them, like park grounds or hiking trails.
2) Exercise Proper Leash Control in Natural Environments
Speaking of leading your dog, using leashes and comfortable martingale collars on them will give you a greater level of control over their movements. Never keep your dog off-leash in an area where they can potentially encounter toxic plants, fungi, or wildlife. Keep this in mind, especially in shared and public places where you're unsure what the local flora and fauna looks like.
3) Secure Your Yard Against Toxic Flora
Next, create a safe haven for your dog within your yard and either remove or fence off plants that could be harmful to them if ingested. Identify and eliminate toxic plants from your outdoor space to reduce the risk of accidental exposure. Installing durable fencing can also prevent your dog from wandering into areas where these plants may grow, like your neighbor’s garden.
4) Supervise Your Dog’s Outdoor Activities
Supervision is a key component of pet safety, and it’s something that you should make a habit of in and out of your home. Watch over your dog and be present and attentive enough to quickly intervene if they try to sniff or put something dangerous in their mouths. Being under your watchful eye will help minimize your dog’s exposure to potentially toxic dangers.
5) Train Your Dog for Their Own Safety
You should also train your dog with essential commands like "leave it" and "drop it," which will give you the means to strongly influence your dog’s actions—especially during outdoor excursions. Properly teaching and reinforcing these commands will make it easier to direct your dog's attention away from toxic elements, which in turn could save their lives.
6) Pet-Proof Your Indoor Space
Poisonous plants are not just found outdoors, as you may have indoor plants that can be toxic to your pet. Make your indoor environment safe by choosing pet-friendly indoor plants to decorate with and placing them out of your dog's reach. The second step will give you some additional peace of mind about your dog not ingesting plants they shouldn’t be near in the first place.
7) Prepare Your Emergency Contacts for Any Poisoning-Related Emergencies
Lastly, even if you’ve conscientiously done all of the above, always be prepared for an emergency that can still happen to your dog. Keep the contact information of your nearest emergency veterinarian handy in case your dog accidentally ingests a toxic leaf, licks a toad, or eats unsafe human food. Knowing who to call in an emergency ensures quick action if the need ever arises.
Recognizing Poisoning in Dogs and Taking Swift Action
Again, despite your vigilance, due to factors that you can’t always control, it’s still possible for your pet to get into hot water and have a close encounter with poisonous flora and fauna.
The following symptoms may indicate that your dog has ingested a toxic plant or come into contact with a toxic animal:
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty breathing
- Noticeable changes in your dog’s behavior
If you believe your dog has been poisoned, it’s important for you to stay calm. Don’t hesitate to make an immediate call to your veterinarian or an emergency animal poison control hotline. While waiting for their assistance, refrain from inducing vomiting or administering any home remedies to your dog without consulting a professional first.
Next, gather as much information as possible about what your dog may have ingested. Include the plant or substance, down to its name (if you know it) and the estimated amount consumed. This is information that will prove helpful to your veterinarian when it comes to formulating your dog’s treatment plan.
Knowing how big a threat poisoning is to dogs, watch out for the causes and symptoms of a toxic reaction. Being attentive to your dog's behavior, and knowing how to help them properly, will save their lives and have them on their way to a successful recovery.