Posts Tagged ‘pet safety’

Semi-Urban Wild Animals and Your Pet

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

The United Staates leads the world in urban encounters with wildlife.  Which is wonderful- if we consider the global ecosystem.

Not one step further into the rough, puppy dog!

Here in New Jersey, Raja has foxes, raccoons, possums and even the occasional bear to deal with. Well, he doesn’t really deal with any of them if I can help it.  The worst problem is the foxes.  They run through his yard, scenting anything they like the looks of and the girl foxes are particularly thorough.  Raja finds the fox scent alluring, while I find it completely repellant. Completely. What he doesn’t know is that, although he is only a little smaller than the fox, he is completely docile and gentle and the fox is pure predator.  Raja sees the fox as an interesting dog friend.  The fox sees him as an enormous, tender snack.

In his California home, Raja has possums, raccoons and coyotes.  The coyote scent scares him and terrifies me.

In both locations, unbelievably, neighbors find the wildlife charming… until their cats don’t come home at night, that is.  Until they hear about a lost Chihuahua.

How do wild animals survive as suburban and urban sprawl encroach on their territories?  Very, very well, it seems.  Green belts in Northern and Central New Jersey cover enormous contiguous swaths of land all the way into upstate New York.  In California, the isolated hills of the mid state regions lead toward urban/suburban neighborhoods that dead end right at the feet of nature.

And we feed them.  A garbage buffet is fairly carelessly set out once a week.  Fruit and berry trees, as well as compost, attract small animals that larger animals eat.  Even badly cleaned grills lure with the deliciously rancid scent of animal fat.  Docile, protected wildlife like deer, wild turkeys and songbirds attract non-docile, but similarly protected, carnivores.  Urban golf courses grow tender grass that grows enormous, tasty gophers in spite of the pesticides.

I’m not advocating eradicating wild animals.  Except for the smelly foxes and hungry coyotes, I like having wild creatures around.  In theory, I even like the foxes.  On a good day.  But we all have to be sensible, especially as winter makes every wild thing hungrier.  And bolder.  And more confident to reclaim yards as cooler weather keeps people inside more. (Yes, even in California where some people think 60 degrees is awfully cold.)

In winter, put on your coat and go out with your dog in the yard.  If you stand behind a glass door and watch, you cannot beat a fox to the prey.  If you chase a coyote down the sidewalk at night, you will run out of steam far before the coyote tires, and he will not drop the Chihuahua to lighten his load.   Keep an eye out for movement at the edge of darkness at night and do not allow your dog to wander more than a foot away from you.

Especially in New Jersey and New York where Hurricaine Sandy has uprooted trees and taken down brush, if at all possible, reassert order in wooded property.  Chaos and neglect make for new neighbors.

We can all live together if we pet owners are vigilant and protective at the edge of nature.

Things Dogs Really REALLY Can’t Eat

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Happy New Year to all our blog readers and to all their dogs who are read to!!! Raja here.  I’m doing the first blog of the year… our blog really IS all about me, so I’m starting 2011 off with the first post about safety.

I'm not eating this kalanchoe!

Dear Readers,

There is too much “unresearched heresay” about plant-related products dogs can and can’t eat. We can’t have poinsettias, as one example. Well, who wants to eat poinsettias? NOBODY who is even remotely sane wants to eat poinsettias. And they don’t make a dog sick in and of themselves, it is now discovered. BUT, think about this… how would anybody react to a bellyful of tough leaves? Even humans would be sick if they ate a pile of poinsettias. But they won’t. You can leave them alone with those plants and take your nap. And as for you, puppy, if you are a desperado who will chew on anything to get attention, I guess poinsettias, as well as electrical cords, slippers and area rugs are all out the door.  (If any of you animals ate a poinsettia over the holidays, please comment in and let us know how it went  so I can put poinsettias back on the list if need be.)

The list of things we REALLY can’t eat is a short one.

Grapes, Raisins, Grape Juice, Wine. Dogs should not eat grapes, but if one of us happens to eat one dusty raisin, I think it’s OK. Beware guests who leave half finished glasses of wine around. Most of us won’t touch it, but some of us (you know who you are out there) will.

Onions. Onions eaten in quantity can be extremely toxic and have long term effects. If we get a bite of stew that has onions in it, it’s probably OK. But we should avoid onions, and that includes onion powder in foods.

Xylitol. The humans like this plant-derived sweetener in chewing gum. It’s fine for them. Have you ever smelled a delicious minty-sweet odor coming from a lady’s purse and put your nose in and found a little rectangle wrapped in paper and sneaked away with it to chew it up? Well don’t do that again! Xylitol is dangerous.

Finally, here are two serious, systemic  plant toxins we might be exposed to, but only the weirdest dog would actually nibble them. (Yes, you out there with the crazy eyes- this is for you!)

Kalanchoe. Kalanchoe succulent plants are a huge genus of about 125 species.  The flowering varieties are often sold in supermarkets.  For the demented dogs who gobble anything, kalanchoe is severely dangerous. Vomiting is the least of the trouble, so owners of crazy dogs must not keep these plants around. (Since I eat nothing without being beseeched, we have many of these plants around. But I can be trusted. Can you?)

Oleander. Very pretty landscaping plant and very toxic. Only a lunatic would eat the stiff, tough leaves, but if one of us does, vomiting is the best possible outcome. Most people don’t keep oleander as a house plant, but in southern and perennially temperate latitudes around the world,  oleander is common in landscaping. Don’t get any ideas to grab attention by eating oleander, OK? Eat slippers and rugs instead.

It’s a short list pals. Stay healthy and don’t misbehave in the first days of the New Year when our somewhat dazed humans aren’t watching closely.

Upcoming:

In 2011, we plan to share more adventures and tips and we will be introducing my Insight Exclusives- narrated journeys with Raja Cam.  See the world as I do.  You humans might be tempted to get down on all fours.