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April 25, 2018

Keeping your cat or dog inside your home might not be feasible for you. Whether someone in your family has allergies or you moved to a smaller house, you may need to keep your pets outdoors for the majority of the time.

So what can you do to ensure your outdoor pet stays safe and loved?

1. Give them a home.

Even though your pet is housed outdoors, they should have all the same comforts they would have inside. This includes a bed, water, food, warmth, and shelter.

Your outdoor pet should have an enclosed space of her own. This should include four walls and a door. Make sure the door is the right size to allow only your pet in (while deterring other animals from making a home).

Include a   bowl of fresh water and food, which you should replace periodically. Don’t be afraid to provide your dog or cat with a little more water and food than you think necessary, especially in colder months.

Fluff up their home with outdoor blankets and pillows to keep them warm and cozy. However, note that blankets and pillows can get wet, so you may want to instead use hay in wetter months. 

The house itself shouldn’t be too large. Smaller houses can actually make your pet feel more comfortable and secure. It can also help circulate their body heat better, which is important for added comfort in the fall and winter months.

2. Provide light.

Dogs and cats don’t usually get scared of the dark. However, you may want to install a motion-detector light near your pet’s outdoor home. This will help them feel and act safely when housed outside.

The light will automatically turn on with movement. This can alert your sleeping pet if there is another animal or danger in the nearby vicinity. The light can also allow you to quickly recognize if your animal is walking around at night.

How To Keep Outdoor Pets Safe pug in wooden dog house

3. Get the chip.

A microchip is the best way to keep track of your pet if they wander off or get out of their enclosed space. Most humane societies will microchip an adopted animal, so be sure to discuss this feature when purchasing a pet. You should also keep your personal information updated with local shelters, so they can contact you if they find your lost animal.

Your pet should also be collared with ID tags for easy identification. You might also want to nose print your dog. No two dog nose prints are the same, so this is a surefire way to make sure the dog you bring home is   your  dog!

4. Groom appropriately.

If your pet is outside in the winter, let him grow out his coat for added warmth. If your pet is outside in the summer, trim his hair frequently to keep him cool.

Vets recommend not declawing outdoor pets. If you are keeping your cat outside, he should have claws in order to protect himself. For dogs, you want to let their nails grow a bit longer so they have means of protection and security if need be.

Note that you want to avoid bathing your pet too frequently in extreme cold or heat. This can dry out their skin, which increases the risk of infection and skin disorders.

5. Vaccinate.

All outdoor animals should be thoroughly vaccinated to help prevent disease. This includes the Lyme disease vaccine, rabies vaccine, influenza vaccine, and feline leukemia vaccine.

You might also want to get your pet spayed or neutered. Outdoor pets are more likely to meet other outdoor pets, which can result in a litter of puppies or kitties. Plus, animals that aren’t fixed have a higher desire to procreate, so they’re more likely to roam away from home.

You should take your outdoor pet to the vet frequently to maintain their health.

How To Keep Outdoor Pets Safe lab in scarf laying in leaves

6. Dress them.

Like grooming, the clothing you put on your dog or cat can impact their exposure to weather. Sweaters and scarves can keep them warm in colder months.

For example, you may want to provide your pet with booties to protect from harsh cold snow or heated concrete. You should use insulated booties in the winter and lightweight booties in the summer.

P.S. Did you know dogs can get skin cancer? Make sure you provide a shady area in the summer to prevent  against  harsh UV rays.

7. Keep your yard safe.

Be aware of the products you use in your yard and garden. Don’t use gardening pesticides with harsh or poisonous chemicals.

You should also avoid using antifreeze or salts to melt snow. Dogs have a tendency to lick these salts, which can be highly toxic and dangerous to your pup.

You should also keep garbage and recycling cans in an area separate from your pet’s home. Loose debris from the garbage can injure or poison your pet.

8. Fence them in.

The area around their outdoor home should be securely fenced in. Chain-link fences work if you just want to simply keep them contained in your yard. However, you might want to consider other types of fencing to contain jumping or strong dogs who might claw or bite their way through  chain  link.

If your pet is anxious, you might also want to consider a fence that minimizes exposure to the outside world, especially if there are a number of cars, airplanes, or passersby.

You should also have a separate fenced area or shed for your yard supplies and equipment. You don’t want your pet to have accidental access to gardening chemicals or sharp tools.

Note:  We don’t recommend a shock collar fence. Not only do these hurt and traumatize your pet, but they are also not 100% effective. Your dog is much more likely to get lost or stolen with an invisible fence.

How To Keep Outdoor Pets Safe dog nose and tongue sticking out of hole in wood fence

9. Consider the plants in your yard.

Some outdoor plants can be toxic to cats and dogs. You want to remove these from the yard and keep an eye out to make sure they don’t pop up again. Examples of pet-poisonous plants include:

  • Lilies
  • Poison ivy/oak
  • Autumn crocus
  • Azaleas
  • Daffodils
  • Tulips
  • Oleander
  • Amaryllis
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Rhododendrons
  • English ivy
  • Mushrooms 

Learn about other noxious plants   here.

You should also keep the yard’s grass cut and trimmed. Ticks and fleas like to hang out in long grass, so keeping your grass low will help protect your animal from unwanted pests. You should trim the hedges as well so they don’t get scratched or stuck on loose branches.

Note:  Regularly clean up your dog’s poop from the backyard. Dog poop has bacteria and parasites that can be harmful if allowed to compost into the soil.

10. Bring inside with extreme weather.

If there is a snowstorm or heat wave, it’s safest for your cat or dog to come inside. Leaving them outside could make them vulnerable to extreme temperature changes, hypothermia, freezing, dehydration, falling debris, hungry animals, theft, and more.

If it’s unsafe for you to be outside, it’s unsafe for your pet to be outside. This is especially true in extreme cold or snowstorms. You should also bring your dog or cat inside during storms if he has anxiety.

Bottom line

Give your outdoor pet the indoor treatment. With a safe and secure outdoor home, your dog will still feel all the love and warmth of your family.  

When keeping your dog outdoors, keep the following three phrases in mind:

  1. Don’t remove your pet’s natural protective defenses.
  2. Provide security against weather.
  3. Provide security against animals and pests.

Do you have an outdoor dog or cat? How do you keep your animal happy and safe?

Contact us  with your tips and tricks for outdoor pets!


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