For example, cane toads, or bufo toads (Bufo marinus), are venomous—they secrete a toxin that is quite dangerous to animals and can kill cats or small dogs and make large dogs very sick. If these toads are living in your backyard, keep your animal companions far, far away from them. In areas where lizards and skinks reside, watch your cats because there is a species of skink (blue-tailed) who also emits a neurotoxin and can kill an animal with a bite.
Snakes abound in my area as well, and though mostly harmless, the venomous ones can be dangerous when threatened. Most venomous snakes, such as rattlesnakes and water moccasins, are easily recognizable. But the harmless corn snake, also known as a scarlet snake, looks an awful lot like his venomous cousin, the eastern coral snake. While the colors of the two snakes are identical, the skin pattern differs. This is where that old rhyme comes in handy:”Red touch yellow, kills a fellow; red touch black, friend of Jack.” Both the corn snake and the eastern coral snake are red and yellow with black stripes, but the red and yellow areas on the harmless corn snake are separated by a black stripe. The dangerous eastern coral snake has bigger, bolder black stripes and the red and yellow areas touch.
Tiny brown recluse spiders are also in great supply in the summer, and they often hide in barbecue grills or scrap wood piles. Fire ants can inflict a miserable bite on you and your animal companion, so watch out for them as well.
It is always a good idea to generally restrict interactions between your animal companions and wildlife. Keeping an eye on your animal companions is a part of what you signed up for when you adopted them. And because they now share their surroundings with other living beings who also have the right to be there, it is our duty to always keep a close eye on our animal companions—the same way that we would keep an eye on children and make sure that they enjoy their surroundings in a safe manner.
Finally, I would like to leave you with this: Summers are hot, and we are reaching record temperatures in many parts of the U.S. Make sure that your dog has access to plenty of water and a cool place to rest. If you’re hot, so is your dog. Never leave animals in a parked car—not even “just for a minute” while you run into the store. What if you slip and fall in the store and that two-minute errand ends up being an ordeal? Or what if the checkout line is 10 people deep?
Don’t chance it!