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Wasilla homeowners: create a safe backyard for your pet

I don’t know about yours but our dog’s favorite season has to be summer. Sure he spends time outdoors during winter but he seems to enjoy that outdoorsy time more when the sun is shining and the weather is warmer. Since I can’t be with him constantly I did a perimeter check of the yard as soon as we moved in. I’ve since learned there is more to pet safety in the backyard than an escape-proof fence.

Lawn chemicals can be deadly

Keeping a lawn lush and green in summer comes at a cost – the high price of chemicals for starters. Those chemicals, on the other hand, could cost your pet his life. The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tuft’s University recently released the findings of a six-year study of lawn pesticides and dogs. The findings were frightening: these chemicals raised the risk of cancer by as much as 70 percent. “Dogs at highest risk . . . were over 50 pounds and living in homes where pesticides and herbicides were professionally applied, as well as homes where owners used lawn care products containing insect growth regulators (chemical killing agents),” claims Karen Becker, DVM.

Dr. Becker mentions another study undertaken at the veterinary school at Purdue University that suggests garden and lawn chemicals may be linked to bladder cancer in dogs who inhaled, ate or made contact with the sprayed lawn grass through the skin. She goes on to recommend avoiding pesticides and herbicides in areas where your dog spends time. Also, check the labels of tick and flea medications you use and throw them out if they contain the chemical pyriproxyfen.

Plants can cause harm as well

Some dogs love to eat plants, others ignore them. Why take a chance, though, that your pooch might suddenly acquire a taste for them? Do another perimeter check, but this time, be on the lookout for poisonous plants. The ASPCA keeps an online database of all plants and their level of toxicity to cats, dogs and horses.

Although there are too many toxic plants to list here, the Pet Poison Helpline has a list of the top 10 most common and deadly plants:

  • Autumn crocus.
  • Azalea.
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Cyclamen
  • Kalanchoe
  • Lilies, including tiger lily, Asiatic lily, Easter lily and Japanese show lilies.
  • Sago palm

Additional considerations

  • Lock up garden compost in a closed, dog-proof container
  • Get rid of standing water
  • Store hazardous products such as paint, gasoline and insecticides out of the reach of your pet.

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