AC Pup: Safety smarts for city dwellers

I’m so glad many people sincerely love their pets and consider them part of the family. Have you ever hung out in the pet stores that allow pets to come inside? It’s really cool to watch families bring their fur babies in to shop for food or leashes, and let the pet help make the selection. It’s so fun to watch them pick out toys.

Because pets are such an important part of their families’ lives and because not everyone who has pets lives in the suburbs with a single-level home and fenced backyard, I wanted to share some safety tips that would apply to city dwellers. And I want to specifically address pets that live in lofts or apartments.

This new safety awareness for pet parents is high-rise safety. With so many lofts springing up in our area in addition to multi-story apartments, it’s important to take precautions to keep furry residents safe.

There is an increase in what’s called “high-rise syndrome,” where pets living in buildings other than single-family dwellings may be at risk. Sometimes family pets fall out of windows to the ground many stories below. There have been incidents of a screened window left open, and the parents feel their pet will be safe. But somehow the weight of the pet leaning against the screen causes it to push open.

If you’ve ever watched cats sitting in a window sill enjoying the scenery outside, you know what a wonderful form of recreation a window can be for them. They usually put their full body weight against the window as they watch the activity outside. The danger can occur if the window is open with only a screen to hold them in.

Another fall hazard jeopardizing both dogs and cats is a balcony. I have actually seen a large dog leaning up over the railing of a balcony of a high-rise apartment in town. I couldn’t bear to look.

If you live or plan to live in a high-rise building, please do not let your pets out on the balcony. There are just too many things that could go wrong, and gravity is pretty unforgiving.

Exercise and time outside is another important area to think about, especially for dogs. There are a couple of things to consider when going outside.

First is the exit. Will you take the stairs or the elevator? Either way, please introduce your pets to them both to make sure they are comfortable descending or climbing stairs and with being enclosed in an elevator.

Next is safety around traffic. Since streets with moving cars typically surround lofts and apartments, remember to put your dog’s leash securely on before you ever open your apartment door, just to make sure there is not an energetic escapee.

Finally, when you take your fur baby out for a walk, remember that in Middle Georgia during the spring and summer the asphalt is hot. Really hot. It’s so hot it can burn the pads of your dog’s feet, so try to avoid the dark, hot asphalt.

Pets that know they’re loved are adaptable. They want to be wherever their loved ones are. So they can be just as happy and safe living in a loft as they are living in a house if the proper safety precautions are taken. If you’re a city dweller, enjoy the indescribable companionship of a wonderful pet in your loft or apartment.

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