How safe is Your Backyard?


We try to keep our pets as safe as possible.  We keep them leashed  away from home. We feed them the best food we can provide. We keep their shots and worming current, we train them, and we love them.   When we’re home they play safely in our fenced backyards.

How about that yard? Is it safe?  When was the last time you took a good look around your back yard with the safety of your pet in mind?  We recommend that you do it every spring and fall. What should you look for?  Listed below are some of the hazards that could harm your pet.

The Mulch Pile:       

The backyard mulch pile can be a very attractive and very dangerous place for your pet. Going green is great as long as you do it safely. We recommend that your mulch pile be securely fenced and pet proof.

  1. Mycotoxins   which are found in moldy items like breads, cheese and dog food can make your dog seriously ill.  Signs can range from vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal tenderness to seizures and permanent liver damage.   
  2. Hops used in home brewing can kill your pet if ingested in even small amounts.  The danger is present both before and after brewing.  Signs are panting, rapid heart rate and a rapid increase in body temperature to the point of death.
  3. Macadamia nuts can cause ataxia (lack of coordination), anxiety, increased heart rate, tremors and temporary paralysis. 
  4. Grapes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, tomato plants, black locust tree pods and seeds, any sugar free products containing Xylitol and coffee grounds are all dangerous for your pets as well.  If your pet ingests any of these items call poison control and your veterinarian.

The Backyard Pool:

We all know how attractive and dangerous a pool is to small children but it can be just as deadly to your pets.

  1. Drowning is an obvious risk to both pets and children. Both may fall in and be unable to get out. 
  2. Pool Chemicals can make your pet very sick. Animals are curious and will often taste whatever happens to be lying around.  Ingesting pool chemicals can cause vomiting, breathing difficulty, seizures and loss of consciousness.

Poisonous Plants

Be cognizant of what you plant.  ASPCA poison Control has a complete list of plants that are toxic to animals.  Please visit for the complete list.  Plants can cause everything from local irritation and drooling to seizures and death. 

Other Animals

Your first thought may be other aggressive animals.   However, skunks, raccoons and possums can carry infectious diseases that can make you and your pet sick. This is why we preach vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate!  It’s also a good idea not to feed your pets outdoors which is a sure way attract local wildlife.

  1. Rabies is carried by skunks, raccoons and bats and they all frequent back yards. 
  2. Leptospirosis is transmitted through the urine of infected animals and can be transmitted to people and pets.
  3. Baylisascaris is a parasite that is harmless to Raccoons but deadly to humans due to its propensity to travel to our brains and wreak havoc.
  4. Bites and wounds and infections can occur if your dog or cat tries to defend their home turf from raccoons and other wildlife.
  5. Predation is an unpleasant prospect whether it involvesyour pet or wildlife. 

Fertilizers, Herbicides and Pesticides

  1. Read your labels and use chemicals accordingly.  Wait until chemicals are dry or as long as the directions indicate before allowing your pet back in the yard.
  2. Cover any food or water dishes before spraying.  Don’t forget the bird bath.
  3. Store all chemicals safely and out of reach.  Keep the original containers just in case you have an accidental exposure.
  4. Keep slug bait, rat poison and gopher bait well away from any place your pet can reach. Call your veterinarian and/or poison control if you even think your pet may ingested any of these products.
  5. Try to find a natural, poison free alternative whenever possible.


Dare we say it?  Children are immature, impulsive and often lacking in judgment. 

  1. Kids may think teasing your pet through the fence is fun but the end result may be an over stimulated, aggressive dog and bitten children.  Nobody wants a barking, fence running dog for a neighbor no matter how the behavior was started.
  2. Children may throw food or other objects over the fence that can harm your pet.  It’s a good idea to run a fence check frequently in warm months.
  3. Jumping dogs can catch a collar on the fence top and choke to death.  Yes it happens.
  4. Small pets can be injured and even killed by over enthusiastic and unsupervised children.  Again, yes it happens.
  5. Finally, no matter how safe you keep your yard, it doesn’t matter if children forget to close and latch the gate.

This isn’t a complete list of the potential dangers in the backyard jungle but hopefully we’ve got you thinking about pet proofing your property.   Feel free to call us or contact through our web site or face book with any questions.

5 Common Pet Health Issues and How to Cope With Them


  •  Quicked nail (cut too short)         Are you afraid to cut your pet’s nails for fear of getting too close to the quick.  This is the sensitive part of the nail containing a nerve and blood vessel.  Cutting into the quick does cause bleeding and pain which no one wants to do.  However, if the worst happens, there are ways to deal with it at home.   Remember this is for close cuts only.  If your pet breaks or tears a nail, chances are that will need to addressed by your veterinarian
  • No commercial “Quick Stop”?  No problem.  Just use flour & water paste. This is easy, readily available and will generally stop the bleeding. It helps to keep Rover quiet for a little while afterwards. As an added benefit, its completely nontoxic.
  •  My pet has a tick attached!          With the warm spring, tick season is starting early this year.  Do you know how to safely remove an attached tick?
  •  Tweezers work well for this job.  Hold the skin close to the tick’s body and gently pull back with a slight rotating motion.  If you worry about pinching your pet with tweezers, try a commercial tick remover. These are shaped like a spoon with a split in the middle for easy removal of the tick.  Another method involves squeezing the skin around the tick and gently running a credit card underneath the tick to dislodge it.  Check to see if tick’s head is attached to its body by looking at the tick, not the pet’s skin.
  •  What’s the best way to handle ticks?  Don’t handle them at all. Instead use products such as Frontline or Tick collars to prevent them from attaching in the first place.  For added protection,  remember to vaccinate for tick borne Lyme disease, just in case
  •  My pet won’t stop scratching!    What’s the most common cause of itching?  If you guessed fleas you’re correct.  Even pet’s who never venture outdoors can become infested with fleas.  Owners bring them in on pant legs; they get in through open windows or get on the porch or deck.  Remember, fleas have nothing to do with how clean your house is.
  •  An inexpensive flea comb is a great tool.  Comb through your pets hair looking for fleas or the black specks that are flea dirt.  Flea dirt is actually feces which contains your pet’s digested blood. Just add water and if it turns red, its flea dirt. Of course, the best way to deal with fleas is through the use of Frontline, Trifexis or other flea preventatives.
  •  Finally, everything that itches isn’t always fleas.  If there are no signs of fleas and the itching won’t stop, it’s time to see the vet.
  •  I think my pet has a mass behind his/her ear What happens If you are giving your pet a good scratch and find a lump behind the ears?  Before you rush to call the vet, double check that it isn’t just a mat of hair. Longer coated pets with fine hair can quickly develop hard mats and the heat and humidity of summer months can make tangles even tighter. Another area where mats can be a problem is the around the anus.  Hair in this area combines with stool to form a mat that can prevent your pet from defecating.  This can cause serious problems if it isn’t addressed.
  • Small mats can usually be gently teased out with your fingers.  For larger mats or anything around the anus, the safest method is electricclippers. Scissors can cut tender skin and combs can cause bruising and tears if hair is pulled too aggressively.
  •  My pet keeps scooting on my carpet.  I think its worms.     More often than not, the cause of scooting is full anal glands.  Anal glands are located on either side of your pet’s rectum and can become impacted.   Feeding a higher fiber diet can help firm stools which may help the glands empty easier but some pets simply have trouble emptying their anal glands. Whatever the reason, anyone who has ever smelled expressed anal glands does not want it on their carpets.
  •  Expressing anal glands requires gloves and a strong constitution.  We recommend you leave this up to your veterinarian or groomer.



The common rat or Rattus norvegicus is seriously under rated as a pet.  Although relatively short lived, from 2 – 3 ½ years, rats can be a perfect first pet. Let us give you 10 good reasons to take a second look at the humble rat.

  1. Rats are small and easy to care for. They do well in a cage environment and in spite of their wild cousin’s bad reputation, are quite clean.
  2. Rats rarely ever bite.  This makes them a good first pet for children unlike mice, gerbils and some breeds of hamsters.  Male rats are  more docile than the females and can be quite happy sitting in their owner’s laps or perched on their shoulder.
  3. Rats are smart!  That’s why they are so popular for maze studies.  Rats can be trained to come to you, climb ladders, play on swings and many other tricks.  They are quick learners and love to perform for food treats.
  4. Rats come in lots of different colors and hair coats.  There are many different varieties of fancy rats to choose from.  They even have hairless rats for those with allergies.
  5. Rats have lots of personality.  Their intelligence also gives rats very distinctive personalities.  The more you interact with your rat, the more his/her individual personality will come out.  They can actually become great companions.
  6. Rats are hardy.  A healthy rat properly cared for rat will give you little reason for worry.  The exception is, sadly, female rats which are highly susceptible to the development of mammary tumors.
  7. If you want more than one rat, a pair from the same litter will usually get along great.  Just make sure you don’t mix sexes.  Rats, like mice, are prolific breeders and will quickly multiply if left to their own devices.
  8. Rats do very well in a cage environment.  For most rats, an aquarium with a wire lid or a wire cage with a smooth bottom would be suitable.  Non aromatic shavings, shredded newspaper or other commercial rodent bedding together with a place to hide and sleep, feed bowls and ladders or other enrichment items will make cage life happy for your rat.  Remember to keep the cage or there will be a build-up of unhealthy ammonia fumes.
  9. Most pet stores sell pet rats.  Unlike some of the more exotic pocket pets, rats are easy to obtain and reasonably priced. 

      10. Rats are easy to feed.  Again because we have been around rats for    so  long we, good commercial diets are available.  Lab blocks are available at most pet shops. Of course, rats like variety too.  They can be supplemented with commercially available treats such as yogurt drops, grains, seeds as well as fruits and veggies from the refrigerator. Rats can become obese if fed too many treats, so don’t over indulge them.

This is meant to be a quick over view into the wonderful world of rats.  If you think you might be interested be sure to do your research first.