Keeping our pets safe is a year-round job, with emphasis placed on the weather, holidays, and traveling. Pets chew up and eat things humans never would think of consuming. Sometimes we unknowingly give our pets human foods or medications that are deadly poison.

Dog Safety for Your Family

Dog safety awareness is an important part of San Francisco’s overall public health and safety, for both animals and people.  Teach your child early on about the appropriate ways to interact with a dog. Here are a few tips to ensure you and your family are safe around dogs:

  • Never approach an unaccompanied strange dog, especially if they are tied up, eating something, or cornered—just admire them instead.
  • Always ask their handler if you may interact with any dog. Let the dog or cat sniff the back of your hand, then pet them gently and slowly.
  • Avoid reaching your hand into their space. Instead, let the dog approach at their own pace.
  • Never interrupt a dog (or cat) that’s eating, sleeping, or taking care of its babies.
  • Avoid eye contact or approaching a dog head-on. Crouching down to their level is the best way to say hello.
  • Never reach over a dog’s head to pet them—wait until they approach you and then pet them on the side or under the chin.
  • Never hug, kiss, or restrain a dog—most dogs don’t enjoy this type of physical contact.
  • If your child loves animals, enroll them in a humane education program designed to teach compassion, appropriate boundaries, and ignite their passion in all things furry and feathered.

While it is a wonderful and rewarding to adopt an animal into your home, it is also important that everyone is prepared for it and that you make the right match for your household. At San Francisco Animal Care & Control, we will counsel you to find the right pet for your family.

Pet Safety Tips

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Here are a few tips to keep in mind for your pet’s safety.

Travel tips
We love taking our pets with us – across town or on a vacation – but caution is advised: temperature (and humidity) extremes may be dangerous or deadly to our pets. Never leave your pet in a parked car in any weather, hot or cold. Cracked windows won’t protect your pet from overheating or suffering from heat stroke during hot summer days. Always bring water and a bowl for your pet.
Use well-fitting collars and ID tags
Identification, with a collar and ID tag—and microchip—is vital to the safety of your pet, in case he or she slips by you and gets lost. A reflective collar adds an extra measure of safety. Collars don’t expand, but puppies and kittens grow quickly! If not loosened, collars can literally grow right into your pet’s neck, creating excruciating pain. Check your pet’s collars at least every week until it is full-grown (that can be more than a year for large dog breeds). You should be able to easily slip two or three fingers between your pet’s collar and their neck.
Don't let your dog ride in an open truck bed

Any sudden start, stop, or turn may toss your pet onto the highway where it can get hit by oncoming traffic. It is estimated that at least 100,000 dogs die this way each year. Open truck beds do not provide any protection from the weather. A dog left sitting in the broiling sun without water or shade may suffer from heat stroke before long. Do NOT leash your pet inside the truck bed–many dogs have been strangled when tossed or bumped over the side of the truck. If your dog must ride in the back of the truck, put the pet inside a crate that will give it some protection from the wind and weather. Tie the crate securely to the walls of the truck bed, so it cannot slide about or be tossed out of the truck.

Keep head and paws inside the car
Although most dogs love to stick their heads out open windows, wind can seriously irritate mucous membranes and blow pieces of grit into their eyes. Insects or flying debris can also lodge in the nasal passages or get sucked into the windpipe.
Keep cats in carriers
Cats like to feel safe and secure, and while they may not enjoy riding in carriers, it’s the safest place for them in a vehicle.
Supervise your pet’s playtime
Although a cat playing with yarn can be cute to watch, it can cause serious health problems.  Cats have an instinctual desire to stalk anything that moves. They like string, thread, yarn, ribbon, even shoelaces. This can be great fun to encourage if you supervise their play but when you’re not around, put away all items, including tinsel and string that your pet can choke on. Both dogs and cats can choke on small toys, toys that have items that can fall off such as eyes, or string that has been used to tie meat for cooking. If you see the string hanging from the animal’s mouth, do NOT pull it out. The pulling could cause the taut string to break through an intestinal wall, possibly subjecting the animal to peritonitis. Immediately take your pet to a veterinarian!
Keep your cat indoors
It’s a fact that an inside cat lives a longer, healthier life than outdoor cats. Outdoor cats face dozens of dangers, including cars, other cats ready to fight for love or territory, and exposure to fleas, ticks, worms, encounters with raccoons and coyotes, and sickness or death from eating spoiled food or household poisons. Outdoor cats usually go the veterinarian more often than indoor cats, and that means higher vet bills. Finally, not all outdoor cats can find their way home. It just takes one time to get lost. Outdoor cats are also a danger to birds, especially if you have bird feeders in your yard. If you provide your indoor cat with spaces to play, hide, and perch (ideally by a window), your cat will be happy indoors, especially if you adopt a kitten who hasn’t spent time outdoors.
Harmful foods and plants
Chocolate, raisins, grapes, onions, garlic, and chives can cause gastrointestinal irritation in dogs and cats, especially if they consume a large amount. Avocados should also be avoided, as they can cause mild digestive issues in dogs and cats such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of stool production. Avocados contain a toxin called persin which is extremely toxic to pet birds and rabbits.

Plants like lilies, daffodils, and poinsettias are highly toxic to cats; symptoms include digestive upset, heart arrhythmia, kidney failure, convulsions, or even death. Cocoa hulls, used for mulch in gardens, are harmful to dogs if ingested.

Don’t use repellant meant for humans on your pet
The same tip applies to applying “people” sunscreen on your pet. What isn’t toxic to humans can be toxic to animals. The ASPCA lists the poisonous effects of sunscreen on your pet as, “…drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy.” DEET, a common insecticide, may cause neurological issues.

Even if your pet is used to being outside, animals are extremely sensitive to sound and the noises caused by fireworks or other loud sounds may frighten them.  The best thing to do is keep them inside.



Related Links:
Get Viewer (External Link)
How to Choose the Right Pet
Doggone Safe (External Link)
How to Love Your Dog – A Kid’s Guide to Dog Care (External Link)
Poisonous Plants To Keep Away From (External Link)