Pet safety is no April Fool’s Day joke
The first day of April is known by many as a day for practical jokes. April Fool’s Day gives some a green light or excuse to say something or do something that isn’t based in truth. These jokes more often than not result in laughter, and the person who has been the victim of the prank often says something like “I didn’t even pay attention to the date” or “I should have known!” This whole day of pranks makes me wonder something about my own pets: do pets understand the concept of a practical joke? Do animals have the capacity to mislead each other or do something that isn’t based in truth? Jokes can be fun and the source of laughter and joy if planned properly; if not, they can create an atmosphere of danger. When my neighbor told his wife a few years ago that their dog ran away (as an April Fool’s day joke), she rushed home and in so doing got a speeding ticket. It would have been a lot worse had she gotten into an accident on the way home. After giving it some thought, I’m not sure how I feel about April Fool’s Day as a holiday or as a day for celebration. Call me a party pooper but I would probably prefer not to become a victim of someone’s practical joke, and I have no interest in playing a practical joke on another person.
All jokes aside, how do we prevent our dogs from actually getting lost or running away? Keeping our dog inside the home is always safer than leaving them outside, even in a fenced yard. A determined dog can dig, crawl, jump, and find some other way around the fence, and that’s assuming the fence is secure. Even the best-intentioned gardener, pool maintenance person or meter reader can easily forget to close a gate behind them. Another bad idea is keeping a dog tied to something and left there alone. This is not only an escape hazard, but can sometimes result in a good-natured dog becoming aggressive; watching people walking by and not being able to interact with them other than barking at them is not a good position for a dog to frequently be in.
No matter how well-trained you feel your dog is, if you take him outside in public, put him or her on a leash. It is easy for a dog to become attracted to something down the street and decide that today is the day for bolting. A good leash that is attached to a strong, correctly fitting collar improves safety and can also be quite stylish. A dog bolting down the street can be injured or be involved in an accident. If the attraction is great enough and you’re not training for a marathon yourself, it’s also possible for dog to get lost. The other purpose of a collar is so that you can attach identifying information on it. Nothing has helped return more dogs to their owners as much as identifying information on a pet’s collar.
One last thing that can help a lost dog (or cat) return to their home is a microchip. These small chips placed painlessly under the skin can help a lost pet be identified by scanning the device with a hand held scanner. Although this is a wonderful idea and will certainly aid in helping lost dogs find their homes, it’s not a substitute for other safety measures for preventing the dog from getting lost in the first place. The microchip is important but should always be considered as a final safety net should your pet become lost.
Dogs love to roam outdoors, they love to play with other dogs, they love to see and greet people, and they love to chase after other animals. I feel it’s better to allow a dog to be a dog and enjoy the outdoors and the company of other pets, but while being supervised in a closed area. Dog parks are also great places for a dog to run free for a little while as they’re safely enclosed and being observed. The only downside of dog parks is the potential for disease transmission and transmission of parasites and fleas. Prior to bringing a dog to the dog park it is important to make sure they are on a flea and tick preventative and a heartworm preventative. It is also good to avoid taking your dog to the park if he or she is showing any signs of illness such as an infection or an open wound.
Keeping our dogs safe is our responsibility. Part of that safety is also paying attention and noticing if something is not right with our pets, and then getting them the proper veterinary care. Having a good relationship with the veterinarian is one of the best ways to keep our pets healthy. Also, a 1800PetMeds pharmacist is here to answer any medication related questions that you may have.