Urban Dangers That Can Harm Your City Pet
Published on June 30, 2015
Dr. Ann Hohenhaus lives and practices in one of the most densely populated metropolises in the world: New York City. As a veterinarian, she sees firsthand the dangers that can harm cats and dogs who live in cities, from hot pavement to a bacteria carried in pigeon poop.
If you’re a city-dwelling pet owner, check out our slideshow, so you can be aware of the risks and do all you can to protect your pets.
If the pavement is too hot to hold your hand on, then it's too hot for your dog to walk on. Scorching streets and sidewalks can damage your dog's paw pads, so always walk him on the shady side of the street. If you can't avoid hot pavement, consider getting your dog a pair of booties or even a stroller in which to ride.
Your city dog may no longer be fazed by the magic of the elevator, but that doesn't mean you should ever drop the leash and let her walk into and out of it on her own. If her leash gets caught in the door, it can become a strangulating noose when the elevator begins to move.
Bird droppings, particularly from pigeons, can contain the microscopic fungal organism cryptococcus. The disease can initially resemble an upper respiratory infection (with signs like sneezing and discharge from the nose and eyes), but it can be life threatening. Cats are especially susceptible. To help protect your pets, discourage pigeons from sitting on your balconies or windowsills, so your pets are less likely to inhale the fungus.
Garbage on the Street
You see litter and trash; your dog sees a delectable buffet. When walking your dog, be hypervigilant that she doesn't eat anything off the ground. A chicken bone, a greasy hot dog, French fry papers or even raisins dropped from a baby stroller — these items and more can all be dangerous to your canine.
When it comes to the dangers of high-rise apartments, you never want to find out if your cat will land on his feet. Especially in the summer when we have our windows open, city veterinarians treat many cats (and some dogs, too) for injuries sustained after falls from apartment windows, terraces and fire escapes. To help prevent an accident, double-check that your screens are installed tightly, and don't let your pets onto open terraces.
Puddles and Standing Water
You may have heard of leptospirosis if you spend lots of time in the country, hiking or camping with your dog. But the risk doesn't disappear in more urban areas. "City wildlife" such as rats and mice can spread leptospira bacteria in their urine, and dogs can become infected by drinking from puddles or pools of standing water. Signs of leptospirosis include mild vomiting and diarrhea, but the disease can also cause life-threatening symptoms like liver or kidney failure. Ask your vet if your dog should be vaccinated against leptospirosis, and never let her drink standing water.