Pet Safety While Outdoors

Spending the day at the lake, nature trail, or dog park with your favorite canine companion is one of the many joys of being a pet parent. There are a few potential hazards to be aware of while taking your dog for a walk, such as encounters with wildlife, parasites, and even toxic algae. At De Anza Veterinary Clinic in San Jose, our veterinarians emphasize a preventive approach to wellness. But when accidents do happen, pet parents can always count on our clinic to provide compassionate medical care.

Toxic Algae

Most algae blooms are harmless, but blue-green algae or cyanobacteria can be fatal. It’s not possible to determine if algae on a lake or pond are toxic just by looking at it. It’s best to err on the side of caution and keep dogs out of stagnant bodies of water, especially if they look green and scummy. Exposure to liver toxins (hepatotoxins) in the water can cause dogs to develop diarrhea, weakness, pale mucous membranes, and vomiting. Hepatotoxins can induce death within hours. Neurotoxins can cause death within minutes. The symptoms include seizures, labored breathing, muscle tremors, and difficulty moving. Prevention is best, so take the following precautions:

  • Keep your dog leashed near bodies of water.
  • Avoid letting your dog swim in stagnant water or low-flow water.
  • Avoid bodies of water during high temperatures and drought conditions, and immediately after rainfall.
  • If your dog does get in the water, immediately remove your dog and rinse off the coat thoroughly with clean water. Do not let your dog lick the algae.

If your dog exhibits unusual symptoms after going in the water, come into our veterinary clinic immediately. There is no antidote available. However, supportive therapies and, in some cases, anti-seizure medications, can help.


Coyotes, mountain lions, and snakes are all potential hazards for pets. At home, you can protect your dog by fencing your yard, but what about public places? If you are retaking your canine companion to the dog park or a nature trail, you all need to know what to do when you encounter wildlife.

Snakes: Snakes rarely attack unless they are provoked, but dogs are often too curious for their own good. If you see a snake, retract your dog’s leash or pick up your dog and move to another area. If your dog is bitten, come into our vet clinic immediately.

Mountain lions: Avoid running or making direct eye contact, but do keep an eye on the mountain lion as you and your dog slowly back away while facing the animal. Raise your arms above your head to make yourself look bigger.

Coyotes: Expect coyotes to hunt in packs. Don’t run or turn your back to the animals. Keep your dog close to your side, raise your arms, and back away slowly.

Fleas and Ticks

De Anza Veterinary Clinic offers several options for flea and tick control for dogs. These include medicated collars, oral products, and topical applications. Protect your pet by administering these products year-round. If you do find a tick on your dog, you can pull it out by grasping the tick with tweezers as close to your dog’s skin as possible. Pull it out slowly and in a straight line away from your dog.

If your pet has sustained injuries from a wildlife encounter, please call De Anza Veterinary Clinic at (720) 329-2613 and we will get you an appointment as soon as possible. If you live in the Cupertino area, be sure to check out our many wellness services, including flea and tick control.