I often discuss the deadly summer hazards lurking around the corner for your canine companion, but this past week clearly illustrated that these hazards are for real.

Many dogs do not understand the dangers when they dash out an open door and carelessly run away from their safe haven. We have several TLC residents right now who are convinced that an unlatched gate is an invitation to find “greener pastures.” Thankfully we have a double gated system so that if a dog sneaks out a gate, there is another barrier to conquer…. and I firmly believe that one of the most important commands we can teach our dogs is “Come.” If you have a dog that has a tendency to wander off, we encourage you to work on basic commands such as “stay”, “sit”, and “come”. They may mean the difference between life and death for your dog, and may save you from the traumatic experience of having your pet become a casualty. We spent several hours trying to coax a frightened, obviously lost dog, to trust us. Darkness came and our rescue efforts were unsuccessful. We have not seen the dog again, and can only pray that somehow he found his way home, or allowed someone else to rescue him.

Many mushrooms are toxic to dogs, and the horrible seriousness of that truth hit home when Cooper, our little shelter dog who moved into our hearts and home, found tiny brown mushrooms in his secure pet yard, and apparently felt obligated to eat some. Thankfully, he vomited, which probably saved his life, but he has been one sick little guy, and is still on medication. Most of us don’t realize that some of the mushrooms popping up in our yards are very toxic to dogs and can be fatal. Dogs like Cooper, who like to “graze”, will sometimes eat wild mushrooms along with lawn grasses, resulting in poisoning. The fact is that dogs can become ill by just licking a poisonous mushroom, and symptoms can range from mild vomiting and diarrhea to severe digestive problems to complete liver failure. Cooper is still recovering from very serious digestive illness.

If you catch your dog in the act of eating mushrooms, remove any pieces from his mouth and induce vomiting with either 1 teaspoonful of syrup of ipecac per 10 pounds of body weight, or 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide every 10 minutes repeating 3 times. If there is a short delay in realizing that your dog has eaten poisonous mushrooms, get him to your veterinarian immediately.

Another hazard that I encountered first hand this week involved a dog who had discovered rat poison in a farmer’s shop, and consumed some of it. Rodenticides are used to control the overpopulation of rats and mice, and poisoning by pesticides and rodenticides is one of the most common household dangers to your pet., and if your dog goes outside at all there is possible contact with rodent poison. It might be in a neighbor’s yard, in a trash bag, or in the back corner of a shop or a garage. The health and survival of your pet depends on the amount of poison ingested, and the time before treatment begins. The best prevention is to keep all poisons, especially rodent poisons, totally out of your dog’s reach. Carelessly placed, or stored, they are potentially fatal threats to your dog’s health.

The hot and sunny stretches of summer can create hazards for your pets, but a little extra care and attention can help them enjoy the hot weather safely so that encounters with summer hazards have happy endings.