Threats to Pets in Rural Areas
Pets may be a perfect living companion, but if you are going to bring domesticated animals into an unfamiliar rural environment, proper precautions need to be taken. Here are a few key threats to watch for.
Wild Animals: Domesticated pets occasionally come in contact with local animal inhabitants that do not take kindly to the “invasion”. Among the most common threats are porcupines, skunks, bears, coyotes, fishers, wild turkeys and even other dogs allowed to run freely. Porcupine quills are very painful and difficult to remove from the body and inside the mouth of a dog. Other critters listed above may cause serious injury or dead to your pet. Even the chewing or consumption of a mouse or snake could cause vomiting or more serious side effects, so keep the pet on a leash at all times.
Lake & Pond water: If your dog enjoys swimming it will likely swallow lake or pond water. Even if the pet only wallows in the water chances are it will take sips of water from time to time. Unfortunately water borne bacteria called Giardia may be ingested, better known as “beaver fever”. The bacteria will cause diarrhea and your pet may go back again for more drinks. If blue-green algae is present along your shoreline in the summer it may very well contain another toxin-producing bacteria found in freshwater. If your pet drinks toxic algae, symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, blood in their stool, disorientation and excessive salivation. This could be fatal if not attended to quickly.
Natural & Unnatural Poisons: Free running pets may chow down on natural poisons such as wild mushrooms and cats are very much in harm if they consume lilies. But man-made hazards may be unexpected or forgotten about too. Rat and mouse poisons, fertilizers, insecticides and mulches such as cocoa mulch may all become a deadly tasty snack for your beloved pet. So, keep your pet on your property and even then on a leash at all times to protect the health and safety of your beloved pet.
Rabies: Since domesticated pets require rabies vaccination in Ontario, such a hazard will be rare. But have you ever seen a domesticated pet attacked by a rabid animal ? I sure hope this never happens.
Ticks: Deer ticks can carry Lyme disease which your pet can be vaccinated against. Ticks are most common in early spring and early fall, usually in long grass and wooded areas.
Mosquitos: It is almost impossible to keep your pet mosquito free. Mosquitos can be more than a nuisance though. They can spread a dangerous parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis, more commonly called “heart worm”. This condition can be life threatening and treatment is very expensive.
SO, in summary, if you are a permanent rural resident or a seasonal owner, you likely already know all of the threats and routinely take necessary precautions to protect your pets. If you are a renter or an occasional visitor in a rural area you might consider leaving your pets with a relative, friend or certified pet sitter. By doing so you will be protecting the pets you so dearly love and your will be keeping the rural neighbours happy by not having them experience wandering pets or barking dogs. In any event, local By-laws dictate keeping your pet on a leash at all time when outside.