Dog enjoying the outdoors.

Welcoming a new pet into your family is an exciting time, and if your home includes plenty of green space, you might wonder if it’s okay to keep your cat or dog outside. After all, we enjoy the Florida sunshine and fresh air, so our pets probably do too, right?

Cats certainly do their fair share of sunbathing on warm window ledges, and most dogs thoroughly enjoy playtime at the dog park, but the great outdoors simply isn’t the safest place to leave domestic pets unattended.

The team at Animal Medical Center wants all pets to live long, healthy lives, and we’ve compiled some important considerations to keep in mind if you’re thinking of having an outdoor cat or an outdoor dog.

Safety Concerns for Outdoor Cats

Cats are natural hunters and tree climbers, so it’s common for cat owners to think their favorite feline will feel more “at home” in the great outdoors. Cats do need playtime and enrichment, but leaving her outdoors unsupervised puts her health (and life) at risk. 

When outside, cats could fall victim to the following:

  • Attacks from other animals
  • Parasites or diseases
  • Being struck by a car
  • Poisonous plants
  • Getting lost 
  • Being trapped by someone who mistakes her for a stray

The Best of Both Worlds: Cats

You can treat your cat to the sunshine she craves while keeping her safe with the following:

  • Supervised playtime on a patio or fenced-in yard
  • A catio enclosure
  • Leash training
  • An outdoor playpen
  • Long walks in the fresh air with a pet stroller

Safety Concerns for Outdoor Dogs

While some working dogs—such as cattle dogs or sled dogs—have been raised outdoors, pet dogs are happiest when they’re welcomed into a family that showers them with plenty of affection. 

Leaving your dog outdoors puts him at risk of the following:

  • Getting lost or stolen
  • Being attacked by another animal
  • Developing behavioral problems—such as aggression, barking, digging—from too much isolation
  • Being struck by a car
  • Ingesting something poisonous
  • Heatstroke in the summertime

The Best of Both Worlds: Dogs

Dogs need plenty of exercise and stimulation, and so do people! So make plans to spend plenty of time outdoors with your dog.

Try the following:

  • Walk your dog at least 30 minutes a day
  • Let your dog have leisurely potty breaks when possible
  • Visit the dog park 
  • Take him on a hike
  • Schedule a playdate with another dog
  • Hit the beach

Proactive Pet Safety

Even with our best intentions and the safest practices, some animals are escape artists. 

Be proactive when it comes to protecting your pet when outdoors:

  • Keep up with regular wellness visits and appropriate vaccines
  • Use year-round parasite prevention
  • Have your pet microchipped 
  • Make sure your pet has a collar with current ID tags

Our team is here to help you keep your pets healthy and safe. Contact us at (813) 654-6222 if your pet needs a checkup or if you’d like more animal safety tips.