Winter’s chill may have settled in your neighborhood, but your energetic pooch still wants to go for walks in the great outdoors. Take it slow and steady, pet parents. According to our experts, the danger of contact voltage on city streets can turn a simple stroll into a devastating event for our furry friends.
Most common in northern climes and urban areas, contact voltage occurs when dormant utilities leak excess electricity. Combined with wet streets and salt-based ice melts, this current can shock, injure or even prove fatal for those in its path. “Since salt used to treat icy streets is a great conductor of electricity,” says Dr. Louise Murray, ASPCA Director of Medicine and author of Vet Confidential, “the risk of shock from contact voltage is that much higher during the winter months.” The ASPCA offers the following tips to help you avoid potentially hazardous areas, and advice on what to do if your pet has suffered an electrical shock:
Keep your dog away from metal fixtures, such as lampposts, grates or manhole covers. While these spots may be your pet’s favorite place to relieve himself, they may also conduct hazardous electricity.
Your dog’s snazzy, rubber rain boots may look good, but they won’t protect your pooch from a strong current. Don’t depend on them to keep your pet safe. Some boots—those with metal studs, for example—may even make the situation worse.
**If you have been shocked, immediately call 911.
~If possible, walk your dogs in greener areas such as Discovery Park, dog parks, Cougar Mtn, etc., were among Sammy’s favorite places to hike and play.
~Avoid construction sites, areas– Do not walk in areas where there is construction taking place, bypass them at all times if you can, our pups not only don’t like the noise in these areas, but many potential hazards and dangers exist, many of which are hidden.
~Avoid contact with open or damaged streetlight bases, especially if you see exposed wires.
~Avoid salted areas, as salt is a great conductor for electricity
~Avoid standing water
~Wear shoes with rubber soles
~As stated earlier, restrain your dog, keep him from peeing on lamp posts, any metal fixtures..this includes, yes, fire hydrants, mail boxes, (if they are charged or energized, they can shock and kill your pet!) keep it to bushes only please!
~Avoid using a metallic leash for your dog, fabric is far safer
~Take a cue from your animal – if he or she is avoiding grates or manhole covers or certain areas of a sidewalk, they may be aware of something that you cannot sense
~Go to dog parks or other green areas where there is less high powered equipment and less likelihood of contact or stray voltage
~Help to educate others about the dangers of contact or stray voltage.
Observe your dog’s behavior. Is he skittish, frightened, angry or upset for no apparent reason? These sudden behavioral changes could be an indication of electric shock.
If your dog is incapacitated due to shock, don’t try to touch or move him without protective gear. Your pooch may pass the current to you, rendering you both incapable of seeking help. Instead, call your local fire department immediately.
Know of an area in your neighborhood that could be affected by contact voltage? Contact the proper authorities. For more information about keeping your pet safe during the winter months, visit: