Dangers of Leaving Animals Outdoors

August 30, 2017
hello world!

Today we are talking about potential risks having your animals live outdoors and methods of protecting your independent pets well-being. Most notably, we will be talking about cats and dogs. 

There are some common risks when you have a cat or dog live outside:


Parasites are an increased risk factor the more often an animal is outside. It is important to make sure your pet is on the appropriate parasite prevention, and you have your cats and dogs tested annually.


Diseases are often also an increased risk when your animals roam outside. It is especially important that these animals are vaccinated and have proper protection. Check with your vet hospital and make sure your animal is fully vaccinated.


Your pets may get injured by getting hit by a car, falling from a tall height, or get stuck in some piping or fencing. While animals are more likely to have some of these problems in more urban environments, it is still a potential risk for pets in rural environments.

Local Wildlife:

There are often predators near where we live. The smaller the animal, the higher the risk of a predator nearby who may attack them. There is also the risk of other animals defending themselves, like poisonous snakes. On the other hand, cats and dogs are both predators themselves, and will likely hunt and kill some of the local smaller wildlife.

Other Pets:

Not all pets who roam outside are friendly towards other animals. Dogs and cats are both territorial animals. Dog fights and cat fights are common factors outside. Keep yourself informed about other roaming pets in the area.


While we don’t like to talk about this much, there are some humans that are a risk to your pet. Animal cruelty is a common problem. On rare occasions, we will be taking radiographs on outdoor cats, to find that at some point they have been shot with a BB gun, and still have the bullet inside. Sometimes humans may not even have ill will against your pet, and are simply trying to give your pet a treat that turns out to be toxic for them; including chocolate!  A person may also think your animal is abandoned, or got loose. In these situations, the people will either adopt them into their own households, or take them to the shelter. Make sure your animal is microchipped, so if something happens, they can come back to you safely.

The Elements:

Leaving them outside also leaves them vulnerable to the elements, such as storms, cold weather, and hot weather. Many people think that our pet’s fur coat will protect them against the cold, but often it only helps to a certain extent. All animals have their own tolerance and limits, make sure you are aware of your own pet’s. Hot weather on the other hand, runs the risk of your animal becoming dehydrated and overheating quickly. In more urban environments, hot pavement and sidewalks run the risk of burning our pets’ paw pads. During hot weather, make sure our animals have plenty of shade and water.


Sometimes, when owners leave their dogs in the backyard, dogs can find weak spots in the fence, or dig out holes underneath. Many cities and states have laws requiring that dogs be on leashes while outside. Owners will need to frequently check their fencing, and make sure it is secure. Chaining up your dog, commonly referred to as tethering, is considered illegal in some states. Note for the states where it’s not illegal: your dog cannot get away from any approaching danger, and your dog may also break the leash.

To check your state’s leash laws, here are links to some quick and useful tables:

State Dog Leash Laws

State Dog Tether Laws

While this may not be everything, we hope this gives you a good scope of things to consider before letting your animals outside.



 Brittany Ligon, Veterinary Assistant at Pinole Pet Hospital