When the fast-paced life of the city wears you down, petting and cuddling your pets can be one of the most perfect way to relax yourself. While spending quality time with your furry (or feathery, if you have pet birds) friends may keep you safe from your share of mental dangers, what are you doing about theirs?
Apart from stress and anxiety-related issues, for those pets who live in urban areas, there is a myriad of dangers hiding in plain sight that the owners aren’t even aware of until after an accident has already occurred. Therefore, if you are a city dweller with a pet, you have to be a tad bit more careful about certain things to ensure your pet can safely manoeuvre through the concrete jungle we live in.
Here are certain ways on how we can make this concrete jungle a safer place for our pets. So, let’s get started:
Falling From Heights
Cities are characterized by multistoried apartment buildings. Therefore, most city pets live in homes where slipping through the window can be fatal. Cats, in particular, are notorious when it comes to wandering off to dangerous places and getting stuck there. It is not hard to imagine a cat being lured by a bird to go to the window and falling through the rails or a cat trying to climb up to the AC vent and slipping in the process. Unless you can keep your windows and doors shut at all times, install pet resistant screens on your windows to prevent such tragic incidents from happening. Do not forget to check from time to time if the screens are still strong enough after the wear and tear.
The mechanism of elevators can be vastly baffling to pets. Many pet animals have been known to feel uncomfortable in the cramped space in an elevator and thus refuse to board on one. While they may get used to it in time, they still have to be carefully assisted while getting on and off elevators. If the dog leashes get accidentally stuck between the doors, it will cause your pet to asphyxiate. Many times, in bigger apartment, complex elevator door sensors do not function properly and it may take days before this insignificant glitch gets fixed. But imagine if you boarded an elevator with your dog/cat and just as the door was closing, your pet spotted something interesting and suddenly ran out. The door would close in on your pet and may cause significant injuries to their delicate little body by the time you can even press the open button. Stand between your pet and the elevator door to make sure they cannot suddenly run out and get stuck between the doors.
Bird Droppings Dropping Diseases
If you think that your dog or cat is a threat to birds, think again. Birds too can infect your four-legged pal with various diseases. It’s a two-way street. Pigeons are among the most commonly found birds in cityscapes and it is their droppings that carry a colony of germs. Chlamydiosis, aspergillosis, cryptococcosis, histoplasmosis and salmonella are some of the bacteria and fungus that can all be found in bird poop.
Cats and dogs have a habit of sniffing anything and everything. Your pet may inhale one or more of these germs from bird dropping in your terrace, on the window or even dust infested with bird droppings in the street. The germs can cause seemingly harmless effects such as making your pet lethargic to much more serious symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, pneumonia and respiratory infections. Salmonella can even be as lethal as to cause pregnant females to have a miscarriage. Always keep your windowsills and balconies clean from bird excrete and keep a hawk-like eye on your pet when they are outside.
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Walking Down the Frying-pan
Even the more spacious apartments can sometimes become claustrophobic for yours. Taking them to walks around the neighbourhood or to the nearest parks, therefore, becomes mandatory. But a stroll may turn out to be anything but fun for your pet for a number of reasons. The primary reason is that the asphalt roads are often too hot for animals to walk on. Concrete, asphalt or tarmac all retain heat. Hence, even if you take your pet out only in the late afternoon, the street or the sidewalk may still be uncomfortable for them to walk on barefoot.
Of course, you would not realize it because you would have shoes on. There are many varieties of shoes, socks and even boots for dogs and cats which can prevent scalding your pet’s feet. If, however, your little one is one of those pesky ones who would not wear shoes, try using a dog stroller (unless you want to make your pet walk on a hot frying-pan).
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Who doesn’t like street food? Everyone does, including our pets. Garbage of all kinds are strewn in the city streets and pets love it. They love exploring the trash cans, sniffing discarded bags and probing any object that is new to them. They also love snacking on what they find, be it half eaten chicken bone or the packet that it was packed in. Many of these “street food” may contain chemicals that are harmful to your pet animal and can make them sick. They may even choke while swallowing such objects. There is really no alternative but to keep your eyes extra wide open and holding on to the leash tightly to ensure your dog or cat’s curiosity does not get the best of them.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is commonly known to affect dogs, although in felines the disease is rarely ever seen. It is mainly spread through rodents, wild animals, farm animals and any other infected animal. Rat urine is a forerunner among the carriers of this bacteria. Crammed damp urban homes often house unwelcome rats and thus the pets have a real risk of coming in contact with rat urine and being infected of leptospirosis. Puddles caused by clogged roads, rain and improper drainage system also can have these bacteria. Therefore, you should not let your dog lick the water in puddles or jump on them and the next time you hear so much as one squeak in your house, make sure to immediately call the rat exterminator.
Many neighbourhoods are filled with stray dogs, and the constant howling and barking into the night denying everyone a good night’s sleep. These dogs often become antagonists to pet animals. Cats being attacked and killed by street dogs are not uncommon. They also look to pick a fight with dogs, and if yours is brave of heart who wouldn’t run away, it will sustain serious injuries. Do not let your pet roam around in the neighbourhood if there are lots of stray dogs around. Even when taking them to walks look for a stay dog free zone or a dog park. As a last resort, opt for your terrace if you cannot find a friendly dog park nearby.
Bare Electricity Wires
Walking down a city street can be particularly dangerous because of the innumerable wires winding all around them. Faulty electricity cables can tear off and fall on the street. Poles often become electrically charged. Even humans have a real risk of failing to ignore such wires and poles and getting electrocuted. Pets in that regard are even more vulnerable. Therefore, you must be extra careful when walking by poles or around wires in the street, not just for yourself but for your little buddies too. Using a leash will make it easier for you to have more control over your pet and thus help you to steer them away from such troubles.
While travelling with your dog, never ever leave them alone inside your car in the parking lot. Parked cars with all their windows closed can become too heated for any animal to bear. Your five-minute errand to the grocery store may be enough to give your dog a trip to hell. If it takes you longer, acute brain damage can cause the poor creature to die. Always take your pets with you instead of leaving them in the car. If stores do not allow pets, postpone your trip to that store to another time when you can leave your pet at home.
Too Much Love?
While the birds can be toxic to your cats and dogs, surprisingly, you yourself can be toxic to your birds as well. How? It may break the bird lovers’ hearts, but do not hang around your adorable parrot or your gorgeous budgerigar for too long. Humans are carriers of various types of germs and bacteria, more so in urban spaces since most of us work in enclosed spaces with too many people. These bacteria and germs can infect your pet birds when they come in contact with humans. If you are even mildly sick from the flu or have a bad cold, stay away from your birdie and ask a friend or a family member to feed your pet while you get better.
Toxic House Plants
We often try to compensate for the lack of trees in the concrete jungle that we live in by decorating our houses with small indoor plants. These, however, are very toxic to pets. Some examples would include common house plants like Ivy, Aloe, Philodendron, Jade, Elephant ear, etc. If not treated on time these can be lethal. Try to avoid having such plants if you have a pet animal at home. Alternatively, you can have the plants hang from the ceiling so that they are out of the reach of cats and dogs.
Important Things to Take Note of
While there will always be a chance of slipping or an accident occurring, being vigilant can only help. To ensure that you can responsibly own a pet, take proactive actions to decimate the dangers to your pets.
- Location of your house: When making accommodation decision, make sure your house is close to your workplace. This will not only reduce your travel time and improve your punctuality but will also mean that you can come home early. Being stuck in traffic eats up hours of your valuable time, thus opt for an apartment complex within walking distance of your office. That way you can stay home longer and take better care of your pets.
- Choose your house wisely: Many neighbourhoods are not pet-friendly at all. They do not have parks or even open spaces where your pet can be taken for walks. Moreover, apartments near the main roads can pose the threat of your pet being run over by cars. The constant din of vehicles may irritate your dog and cause it to bark constantly. Such neighbourhoods should be avoided by pet owners.
Additionally, if your apartment complex does not have an elevator opt for the lowest most story. Stairs can be difficult for animals to climb on to, especially, if your pet is a little old and has weary bones. Not all pets are small enough to carry around, therefore, it is safe to choose a house which is easy for your pet to navigate in and out of on its own.
- Entry and exit routes: Be wary of all the ways through which a person can enter your home and all the ways your curious pet can escape. Pet screens as already mentioned above are essential to prevent your pet from accidents. Moreover, whenever a guest or the carpenter or an electrician comes to your house, make sure to not leave the main door open unnecessarily. Your pet may take off to an adventure on the streets and end up being hit by an unsuspecting vehicle on the road.
- Lower stories: Although a higher floor penthouse apartment has its own appeal, try one of the lower stories if you have a pet. This will ensure the safety of your active pets. Even if they fall through the window, they have a better chance of surviving the fall with minor injuries.
- Keep them on your leash at all times: One aspect that cannot be strained on enough is the use of leashes and dog harnesses. Do not take your pet outside without a harness. Even the most well-behaved and loyal dogs need to be leashed. You can never know what new object intrigues them and they decide to take off in hopes of discovering it. They may run around and get lost if you cannot keep up with their pace. Much worse, they may bump into something or someone and get hurt or even fall under a bus. Such catastrophes can be easily avoided if you use a leash at all times.
This will also help you in preventing them from eating garbage from the streets. Not only outside but even indoors, the leash may prove to be very useful. Use it to keep them away from a certain object that is harmful to them. For example, you may have hanging potted plants that are out of reach of your pet. When you tend to your plants, leash your pet so that it has no chance of coming near the plants and eating it.
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- Microchip or use ID tags: Pet thefts are at its peak. Every year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) reports two times more cases of animal theft than the previous year. Small dogs, cats, and purebreds left unattended in the parks or even in cars are extremely vulnerable. Avoid theft by microchipping your dog. This implantable computer chip goes just under their skin and contains a unique identification code and the pet owner’s name, address and contact information that will help you reunite with your pet within very less time of their theft. Other than that, there are ID tags that can hold the pet owner’s information too. But the problem with dog tags is that it might fall off, leaving you with the same insecurity.
Cities are an awesome place because they are constantly improving to make the lives better for people as well as for pets through the city-wide funding programs. We love our glamorous parks, gorgeous restaurants, spas and other amenities with the world-class healthcare that it has to provide for us and our beloved pets. It’s no surprise that behind every glitz and glamour, cities can be dangerous for our pets. Together, we’re sure, we all can make our city a better and safer place for both us and our pets. If you have moved to a new city and your pet is feeling anxious about it, you should not hesitate to contact the nearest vet as they are the best resource for you to ensure the wellbeing of your pet.
We hope that this article helped you understand the whereabouts to make sure that your pet is safe with you in your city, as well as in your community. Which city do you live in? And what other pet safety measures do you take? Let us know in the comments below!