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If you live in a city, you know how good it feels to step outside for some fresh air. Whether you have a roof terrace, a ground floor backyard or a balcony, you probably want your four-legged companion to come with you. But is it safe for your dog or cat to come along? Ask Team Clean will show you how to make it safe and what to keep in mind if you want your pet to enjoy the balcony or patio with you.
By pet proofing your balcony or patio, you can provide your pet with a place to relax in the sun, cool off in the shade, play in their very own pool and keep an eye on the neighbourhood.
Keep in mind that your balcony or patio should not be a permanent all-day or night location for your cat or dog. Dogs still need adventurous daily walks and socialisation with other dogs. Cats need access to roam around your house and sneak into their favourite hideout. But a well-prepped patio or balcony can be a great hangout for your pet to explore.
There are different safety precautions to consider when letting your pet out on your balcony, and railing safety is the biggest one. If you live in an apartment building with a balcony and have railings, there are several safety concerns for your pet. Your pet could squeeze through the bars and run away or get stuck and hurt themselves. You want to eliminate the temptation for your pooch or kitty to chase a pigeon or a toy they dropped onto the neighbour’s balcony.
Potential solutions for bigger dogs include plexiglass panels or heavy-duty porch railings. Mosquito netting or fine chicken wire are good solutions for smaller pups. Depending on their personality and energy level, we recommend making it chew proof and to make sure they can’t drop their toys through gaps in the fencing. If your balcony is battered by heavy winds, you might also want to attach your small dog to a long tether, so they don't get blown away.
To protect your cat from falling, you can consider a weatherproof safety net to cover your balcony. Just make sure that it’s securely attached so that even the smallest kitten can’t squeeze through the sides. If you have a ground-floor patio or garden and have the budge for an extra layer of safety, you may want to consider getting a pre-made cat cage (a.k.a. catio). They're available in a wide range of shapes, formats and sizes.
Potted plants, herbs and exotic flowers look great on your balcony, but they might be toxic for your furry friend. Symptoms of poisoning include difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhoea and drooling or excessive swallowing. When in doubt, call your vet.
A good option for keeping your dog from munching on poisonous plants is to hang them out of reach. Use flowerpots that hang from the railing or create a hanging gar-den on your wall. Avoid common container plants like rhododendron, azalea, hydran-gea, English ivy and clematis, or flowers like lilies and tulips. Instead, you can opt for non-toxic plants like African daisies, African violets, sprouts, basil, jasmine or pampas grass, if those can grow on your balcony. For more detailed information we recom-mend talking to your vet or checking out this website (https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants).
Most plants that are poisonous for dogs are also toxic to cats. Chrysanthemums, cyc-lamen, English ivy, daffodils and tulips and others can cause serious problems for your kitty. Instead, you could plant a pot with cat grass, catmint and catnip, which your cat is sure to love. Butterfly-attracting plants like lavender and thyme provide some entertainment and make your balcony smell great. For a more detailed list of poison-ous plants, you can also check out this website (https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants)
Besides making it safe, you probably also want to make your space comfy for your pet. And they deserve their own dedicated lounging spot. If your outdoor area is not very sheltered, it's a good idea to consider washable, waterproof beds and cushions. The insert should also be weather resistant. That prevents mould from setting in on rainy days. On hot summer days, it’s important to provide shelter from the sun to keep your furry friend from overheating. You can also get a raised bed, which allows airflow underneath and keeps them off the concrete floor.
Both cats and dogs love people watching, so try to place the bed in a spot where they can peek out on the street. Cats love to tower over the world and often prefer a higher observation point. You can create a little platform to provide it for them. Just make sure it’s sheltered and safe.
Whether your pet is indoors or outdoors, always make sure they have access to plenty of water. This is particularly important to avoid dehydration on hot summer days.
Even if your pet has a whole world to look at from your balcony, they still enjoy access to toys. Scratching posts are a popular option to keep your cat entertained and help them explore your balcony from different heights. Dogs will enjoy a small stash of toys or chewy bones to stay stimulated within a confined space. Just make sure not to give them small balls that might slip through the railing. That will cause more stress than pleasure.
In general, we don't recommend leaving your pet on your balcony unsupervised. Even if it’s for a short amount of time, they can still get themselves into trouble.
Your cat or dog may find it fun to chase cockroaches but generally your pets won’t get on with the pests and eating them isn’t recommended as a healthy daily diet.
There are a number of ways to eliminate the pest problem for both you and your four legged friends to make your balcony area even more pleasant. Bay leaves and basil plants are not only wonderfully fragrant and tasty in recipes there are plenty of insects that can’t stand the smell.
Fun Fact: Rosemary bushes planted outdoors have a similar effect on mosquitos.
But if you’re looking for a more permanent solution to ants and cockroaches we’d rec-ommend a bait like the ones made by Combat. Find them in the insect spray isle of your local supermarket, one little blob in a hidden place so your furry friends don’t eat it and problem gone.
If you take the time to make sure that these aspects are in order, you'll save your-self a lot of worry while still enjoying your own little oasis with your favourite four-legged friend.