Backyard Pet Hazards

Picture of two dachshunds

Dogs love to be in the backyard especially if you’re out there too! In the summer time, there is no better place to be. After all, who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of the warm, summer breeze and the sun shining down on your face? Though your backyard is a great place for your dog to burn off some steam, there are also many items that could prove hazardous should Fido decide to do some active investigating. What are some of the most common backyard hazards and what can you do to keep your pet safe from them?

Common Backyard Hazards

Keeping your pet safe from things like foxtails, antifreeze, oil, chemicals, and lawnmowers takes some planning. Most homeowners have sheds where they can keep items their dogs might be tempted by under lock and key. However, sometimes pet hazards come in the form of equipment you must use to keep your yard well-maintained. A proactive approach to backyard pet safety is the key to keeping your fave pooch from befalling any accidental injury.

Here are some of the most common backyard hazards for pets:


Antifreeze is a common household items that is extremely toxic to dogs. Comprised of ethylene glycol, antifreeze has a sweet fragrance which is a strong attractant for dogs. Drawn by antifreeze’s sweet smell and taste, many dogs will eagerly lap up this toxic substance, consuming a great deal of the harmful chemical before experiencing its unpleasant aftertaste. By this point, the damage has been done.

Antifreeze is most commonly accessed through spills from radiators or on garage floors. Some people store antifreeze in their baby barns, making them a prime target for canines looking for something tasty to lick. Unfortunately, it takes a very small amount of antifreeze to induce kidney failure in a dog. Only 3 ounces or 88 ml is a sufficient quantity to kill an average-sized dog.

But anti-freeze poisoning does not just attack the kidneys. This type of toxic chemical induces multi-system organ failure. Sadly, once a dog has consumed a fatal dose, nothing can be done to save the dog; any form of treatment is ineffective, and euthanization is typically the kindest option.

Dogs who are experiencing anti-freeze poisoning exhibit the following symptoms: lack of coordination, seeming delirium, nausea which may be accompanied by vomiting, racing heartbeat, weakness, sedate behavior, and coma. If your dog has ingested only a very small amount of antifreeze, your veterinarian may be able to induce vomiting; however, typically most dogs die within several days of having drunk antifreeze.

For best results, keep all antifreeze in tightly sealed bottles. Be sure to thoroughly clean off the outside of the bottle in case of any spills on the outside and store the chemicals on high shelves where your dog cannot access them. For the utmost in safety precautions, keep antifreeze behind a locked cupboard. You can also consider using an antifreeze with the active ingredient propylene glycol which is not considered to be toxic to dogs.

Motor oil

The motor oil that is used in our vehicles is also a hazardous substance for dogs. Motol oil contains petroleum and petroleum by-products. When ingested, these materials act as a barrier around the digestive tract, causing irreparable harm and even death to the sensitive tissues.

Unlike with antifreeze poisoning, consumption of motor oil does not automatically lead to the death of your dog, but immediate action must be taken to get your dog the necessary veterinary treatment.

Some of the symptoms of motor oil toxicity include fatigue, lack of coordination, inability to walk, excessive salivating, head shaking, vomiting, and diarrhea. Once the dog reaches the point of vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration can occur rapidly. Immediate treatment is critical to save your dog’s life.

Chemicals and other solvents

Many different chemicals we use to clean our homes, yards, and vehicles are toxic to dogs. Since many of them have additives to make them smell particularly fragrant, many dogs are drawn to them under the illusion that a sweet treat awaits them in the bottle.

Unless you deliberately choose to use pet safe, natural cleaners for your household needs, your garden shed is likely to contain any number of chemicals or solvents that your dog could easily get into. Among the most popular items seen in most homes are bleach, ammonia, insecticides, Windex, rat poison, floor cleaners, car wax, windshield washer fluid, and fertilizers.

Lawn mowers

Lawn mowers are the one thing that is unlikely to cause your dog any harm simply sitting in your shed. However, once the lawn mower is in use, that’s an entirely different story.

Most dogs are smart enough to give the lawn mower a wide berth. Even those that choose to chase it, typically are wily enough to stay far away from the blades. However, there is an even greater risk for your dog when it comes to your lawn mower: rocks. Any time your lawn mower comes in contact with a rock, it propels it across your yard with great force. Whether your dog is looking right at the lawn mower participating in the mowing activities with a barking frenzy or across the yard minding his own business, an errant rock could easily hit him in the head or chest, causing serious injury and most often death.

How can you avoid this problem? You can help to prevent this problem from happening by examining your yard and picking up any rocks or stones that might pose a problem when mowing your lawn. However, it IS the outdoors, and it is very difficult to locate every single piece of debris that could pose hazardous if your lawn mower were to turn it into a projectile. With this in mind, the best course of action is to keep Fido safely in the house when you are mowing the lawn.

There is no doubt that our yards, gardens, and sheds can be filled with backyard hazards that could harm our dogs. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is always better to err on the side of caution and keep your critical cleaning supplies, car fluids, chemicals, and other solvents under lock and key. It could be a matter of life and death for your pet.



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