Preparing for Spring and Summer Dangers

Each spring we see a changing in the flora and fauna around us. As local wildlife comes back into circulation and ventures into our yards, they bring danger in several forms.

First, many of these animals are predators and can be a risk to our pets, especially small dogs, cats, pet rabbits, guinea pigs, turtles or other pets we may take outside “to get some sun”. We must ensure that these animals are secure from attack by foxes or coyotes but there are predator birds, such as owls and hawks, that can also pose a threat. Cages for small animals, ‘catios’ for cats, and roofed dog runs give your pets secure outdoor activity areas.

Parasites are another threat. Ticks and fleas can accompany wild animals as they scout our yards and can then be transferred to our animals. Limiting wild animal access to our yards, or using deterrents, such as scents or noise, can limit this potential transfer. This also applies to parks and areas where we share the space with wildlife while we exercise our pets. Tick and flea control products, as well as thorough inspections after frequenting areas of concern can limit this issue.

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DreamstimeIf you’re concerned about predatory wildlife, an outdoor enclosure such as a ‘catio’ can help protect your pets.

It is not often encountered, but possibly the biggest concern is rabies. Rabid animals pose a threat to our entire families — pets and humans alike. Pets don’t realize the dangers and may rush to protect us if we’re approached by a rabid fox, for example, and they can be bitten in the process. Keeping your pets’ rabies shots up to date is important. For those that don’t want to over-vaccinate, there are titre tests, which can show if an animal retains immunity from a previous vaccination. These tests can cost as much or more than the actual shot, but if you’re concerned about vaccines, they are an option.

Teaching our kids about rabies is also important. The last thing we want is a child seeing “a cute stuffy” in the yard and wanting to play with it. They need to be taught that wild animals are not toys, and if they are old enough, to recognize what a rabid animal looks like, so that they can alert an adult to the threat.

This is also the time of year that wild animals start to have new families. Through accidents or predators, many young animals can become orphaned. Sometimes we find a nest of baby rabbits and think they have been abandoned. Or we will find a baby bird that has fallen out of a nest.

Most people want to pick up the babies and save them, and that is a noble thought, but it can be a problem for the litter. In many cases, the parents are out foraging, and will return. If you can confirm that the babies are orphaned, the best option is to contact a local wildlife rehabilitation group, get instructions on how to proceed, and let them deal with the problem using their trained methods.

Plants, molds or algae can also be a concern. Everything from thorns and burrs to blastomycosis or blue green algae can create dire health concerns. When camping, make sure the area you are going to is not a current hotspot for blasto or blue green algae and ,if there are concerns, make sure to take the proper measures to prevent infection. If your dog has a longer coat and is prone to picking up burrs, there are sprays and combs that can help remove these less painfully.

As always, knowing that there is a concern is most of the battle. Being informed of what can be a danger means that you are better prepared it that danger comes. Stay safe out there.

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