Pet Safety in the City

The other week I attended a webinar “Pet Safety in the City” presented by The Schwarzman Animal Medical Center in New York City.  The presentation focused primarily on issues associated with having a pet (dog, cat, and even rabbits were discussed) in NYC, but many of the issues apply to life as a pet parent in any urban center including San Francisco.   For those of you who like it clean and simple, the main take-away: almost every issue discussed could have been avoided (or at least largely mitigated) by a diligent pet parent.   Here are some of the examples discussed and the pet parent avoidance remedy.

URBAN HARM: High Rise Syndrome (HRS) – when a pet falls from a height of 2 or more stories.

Prevention:  Keep windows and balcony doors closed.  If you need to open a window, use child safety locks from keeping it from opening too far.

URBAN HARM: Hit by a car or bike.

Prevention:  Keep dogs on a leash even if well trained.  Do NOT use a retractable leash.  Avoid walking in a bike lane.  If using a harness make sure it is secure and consider using two points of contact with your pet (harness and collar).  Make sure commands such as wait, stay, and come are known.  If going to an off-leash dog park be well into the off-leash area and away from the street before removing the leash.

URBAN HARM: Escalator Injury

Prevention: Just don’t.  Use the stairs or an elevator.  As the presenter explained – a cute Instagram picture or video just isn’t worth it.

URBAN HARM: Elevator Injury

Prevention:  Hold the door with your arm until your dog is completely within (entering) or outside (existing) the elevator.  Do not let the leash drag on the floor outside or within the elevator.

URBAN HARM:  Revolving Door Injury

Prevention:  Really?  Just don’t!


Prevention: Make sure your dog is dog-park-ready: trained, comfortable around other dogs; fully vaccinated and not sick.  Of course, pay attention to your dog not your phone.

URBAN HARM: Pavement Injury

Prevention: If the pavement is too hot (or too cold) for you to hold the back of your hand on it for 7 seconds do not walk your pet on it.  Walk on the grass, walk early or late in the day (to avoid heat), use booties or paw wax.

URBAN HARM: Rodenticides

Prevention:  Avoid contact by keeping your pet on a leash when outside; if using on your property keep out of reach of your pet AND if your pet is exposed, try and find out what the rodenticide is to expedite treatment.

Of course, this is not a complete list of hazards your pet faces in an urban environment and many of these hazards are not limited to an urban environment; but the big take away from this webinar is that so very much of our pets’ safety begins with being diligent and attentive pet parents.

Thanks for reading and for keeping your pets safe.