Keep Fido & Fluffy Safe with These No-Nonsense Tips

By: Karen Phillips 

Spring is an exciting time in cottage country, as the anticipation of another great season emerges. In expectation of the fun times to come, it’s an ideal time of year to think about and plan for safety at the cottage.  My mother always said, “Plan for the worst, that way it never seems to happen!”  

Though we never like to think of terrible situations, taking a Pollyanna approach to safety isn’t the most prudent of approaches. Taking the time to prepare for situations and potential emergencies early on in the season is a very good plan and ensures that you and your guests are prepared to handle the minor or major situations that may come your way. As a starting place, take stock of the basic First Aid supplies you have to address the inevitable mosquito bite, stubbed toe, scraped knee, hangover and/or possible snake bite. On a more substantial level, it’s a good time to re-evaluate or create your family disaster and communication plans. 

As part of your planning process, be sure to plan for your pet’s safety. Our beloved pets are exposed to potential hazards at the cottage, too. They seem to get into all kinds of trouble – and they are stealth!  

Pet Safety Kit

Not to be grim, but over the years we’ve known of many pet injuries (they all recovered) including but not limited to: cuts from rebar sticking out of the water from old dock cribs; rattlesnake bites; hot spots; vomiting; and lots of minor scrapes and wounds. These examples are not intended to instill fear, but rather to encourage you to think about how you might make educated choices to better protect your pet during the cottage season.  

Survey your property for potential hazards 

Common sense as usual, is the best way to avoid calamity. Clean up old debris on your property, think about what food you throw out in the compost, be aware of where legal marijuana is being stored (i.e. edibles), clean up your gardens and remove old bulbs (i.e. daffodil bulbs are toxic to cats and dogs) and dead wildlife. Also check the cleaning chemicals that you are using. 

Put together a pet First Aid kit 

A basic kit should include: scissors, gauze pads, antiseptic solution and ointment, cold pack, vet wrap, antibiotic ointment, emergency blanket, tweezers, and gloves.  

If a rattlesnake bite occurs, get your pet to a veterinarian ASAP. However, it will help to have the following on-hand: Liquid Benadryl, syringe, and a cold pack for swelling at site of the bite.  

Inspect your pet when they come in from outdoors 

Ticks – we are learning – are increasing in numbers and are spreading throughout the province, making their presence in cottage country known. The insects spread Lyme disease, but they’re not the only concerns – be sure to visit your vet to learn how to protect your pets from fleas and heartworm.  

Practise water safety 

Be aware of your pet’s exposure to ground water in the spring, which may have contaminants from winter road salt and chemicals and parasites. Water conditions in the spring can also be hazardous as waterways may be elevated, with stronger currents and colder water temperatures. Try and keep your dog close to shore, and if they do go in the water, be sure to remove collars to prevent snagging on debris that may be in the water.  

There is something very satisfying about letting our pets explore freely at the cottage, but safety must still be our most important concern. As fabulous as cottage country is, we need to remember that it is home to lots of different types of wildlife, critters, and elements that our pets need to be protected from.  

Take the time to know the phone number of your local cottage country veterinarian clinic/hospital, and emergency service. As my mother also says: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”  

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