Keeping Pets Safe and Happy in the City

We live in a city – we live in a neighborhood with individual houses – we live on the edge of the park. It doesn’t matter where in DC you live, there are hazards all around. There are many tricks to keeping your dog or cat safe and happy in our growing metropolis. Some dangers are very obvious, others, not so much.

Some seemingly obvious dangers include heavy traffic (pedestrian, bikes, or automobiles). Keeping your dog on a short leash, so s/he does not get tangled or unexpectedly dart away from you is important in these crowded areas. Please avoid retractable leashes!

Another danger is to be aware of the temperature of your area. On sunny, hot days, be sure to walk your dog on the shaded side of the street, as pavement can burn the sensitive pads on their feet. The hair on their feet will not protect them from the scorching pavement and concrete. Also, even though it is tempting, refrain from taking your pet with you on hot days if you will be out of the house awhile. The air conditioning indoors will be safer and much more comfortable for them as opposed to the hot car or being leashed outside when you go indoors to run quick errands.

Less obvious dangers include make sure your cat (or dog) is never left unattended on unenclosed balconies, fire escapes, or terraces. Be sure all window screens are secure so they do not push through while enjoying the scenery. (Dr. Teich has seen a number of animals that have jumped or fallen out of windows!) Bird houses and feeders on window ledges will encourage your pets to spend more time looking outside and they may test their boundaries by leaning on the screen to get a better view. If there is an accident, see your veterinarian as soon as possible.

In multi-level apartment buildings, elevators are a concern because leashes can get caught in closing doors, therefor choking the pet when the elevator moves. This is more common than you think. Always hold your dog on a short leash and take extra care when elevator doors are opening or closing.

Littering is not only ruining our scenic view of the city, but can pose a very real threat to your dog. Many dogs, especially Labs and Pit Bulls, love to eat everything they can find! Most litter is probably harmless, but there are many things, like raisins, cigarette butts, and gum that can be toxic to your pet. Please be aware of anything your dog may pick up along their walk. Even seemingly innocent debris, like pigeon droppings and puddles (or standing water), can present a danger to pets because the feces and excrements that wildlife leave behind may transmit disease between the species. Always take care to clean your pet’s feet and do not allow them to eat off or drink off the ground.

Having a pet is a joy, and we want to make sure your pets are happy and healthy. Please contact us here at District Veterinary Hospital to talk about your pet’s health care and how we can help you!

-Beth Grimes, Hospital Administrator

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