Fall Maintenance Dog Hazards You Need to Know
Autumn is the time when home owners get a lot of outdoor tasks done before cozying up inside for the winter. But almost every outdoor maintenance task comes with some level of risk to our dogs, thanks to their curious nature and tendency to experience the world by picking everything up with their mouths. Let’s talk about the potential risks.
It may be time for a fresh coat of driveway sealer or even a new layer of asphalt. Perhaps you’ll freshen up the trim, siding, or doors with a coat of paint. And maybe you’ll cut the drafts with some fresh caulking around the windows. If a dog walks through or brushes against sealant, tar, paint, or any other chemical substance, it may stick to the fur or skin – and your dog’s natural response is to lick and chew at it. These substances are all toxic.
To make matters worse, most of the things we would use to remove any of those chemicals from our own skin are also toxic to dogs – so whatever you do, don’t try to solve the problem with solvents such as mineral spirits, paint thinner, turpentine, lubricant sprays, and so on. Instead, contact your veterinarian for advice on your dog’s specific case, since it will depend what your dog got into, and where on his body or face it ended up. You may have to carefully cut the affected hair. In cases where the substance goes right to the skin, you may have to soak the area with vegetable oil then cover with a bandage or t-shirt so your dog can’t chew at it, and work away at it over a day or two.
If you find that your dog has been chewing a can of expanding foam insulation, find out if the can’s been punctured. If he swallowed any, it could expand in his stomach and cause a life-threatening obstruction.
Another task with the potential for problems is readying the lawn and gardens for the winter. If you are putting out pesticide or fertilizer, make sure to keep your dog away from the lawn until it is completely dry or absorbed – check the product packaging for details.
If you are putting a fresh layer of mulch in the gardens, avoid products containing cocoa bean husks – these smell delicious to dogs, and contain theobromine, the substance that makes chocolate so dangerous for them.
Finally, if you’re doing any maintenance on your garden equipment or vehicles, keep those chemicals well out of reach. Some of them contain ethylene glycol, which is another substance that tastes good but causes kidney failure.
The best practice is, of course, to keep your dog indoors when doing this kind of work, and keep all toxic substances out of reach – but dogs are smart and inquisitive, so they often find a way to get into things we don’t want them to. If you suspect your dog may have gotten into something, seek your veterinarian’s advice sooner rather than later.