5 Backyard Hazards for Dogs

Having a nice, big fenced yard is a dog owner’s dream. Being able to just open the door to let them run, play and do their business is a convenience many dog owners pay a premium for. However, things may not always be as they seem. There may be multiple hazards awaiting Fido in your yard. Here are some common backyard hazards for dogs and tips to consider that will help keep your dog alive and well.

Rabbit, bird or cat feces

No matter where you live in the country, you are likely to have the feces of other animals somewhere in your yard. To many dogs, this provides a veritable smorgasbord. According to the ASPCA, “The consumption of fecal matter can cause bacterial-related gastrointestinal problems, and may also transmit parasites such as worms and certain diseases.” For this reason, they advise taking your dog into the yard on a leash until your are able to train him to leave other animal feces alone.

Predators like coyotes, hawks and poisonous snakes

Depending on where you live, one of the backyard hazards for dogs could be predators in the area that could harm or even kill your dog. There is virtually no way to keep out birds of prey, and some species can easily pick up a toy breed like a Chihuahua or Yorkie. Some areas may also have rattlesnakes or other poisonous reptiles and amphibians that are impossible to keep out of your yard. Coyotes can be kept out with a 6-feet high fence, but many backyard fences aren’t nearly that high. The best course of action here, is that if you have any of these predators in your area, never let your dog out alone.

backyard hazards for dogs

Recent loss of habitat has caused coyotes to start spreading into suburbia and even some cities. Running off with your Chihuahua or Yorkshire Terrier would be an easy take for these well-adapted creatures. Image credit: Macmanes

The lawn

Most dog owners report that their dogs have eaten grass from time to time. Although experts disagree on why dogs exhibit this type of behavior, most do agree that it’s generally harmless. Harmless, that is, unless your lawn contains toxic herbicides or pesticides that can actually poison your dog. Please read product labels carefully and if using a lawn service, be sure to choose one that uses non-toxic products.

The pool

Swimming pools can also be backyard hazards for dogs, just as they are for children. Even if your dog knows to keep his distance, accidents can happen. Running or playing near the pool can result in your dog falling in, and even if he knows how to swim, water temperature or the shock of unexpected submersion can have a bad result. Installing an emergency ramp made especially for pets, or a pool alarm that alerts you if a pet falls in, are both ways you can help keep your dog safe around the pool.

backyard hazards for dogs

Not all dogs know how to swim and can easily drown if they fall into a pool. Image credit: Prachya Singhto

Poisonous plants

Chances are that when most people purchased their homes, they gave little consideration to the types of plants, bushes and trees the landscaping contained. The fact is, however, that many common landscaping plants are poisonous to dogs. From asparagus ferns to yucca, there are literally hundreds of plants that could cause serious harm to our dogs. If your yard contains any of these toxic plants, you should take your dog out on a leash until he learns to leave them alone.

backyard hazards for dogs

Although a beautiful addition to most any yard, oleander is poisonous to dogs. Image credit: Hrushi3030 Public Domain

Before just opening the door and letting your dog enjoy his freedom, take a survey of your yard. Do some research, and if necessary, take preventative measures to ensure his safety.





  1. It’s so important to keep your pool fenced in, not just because of pets but because of young children. Some people think if they don’t have kids, their pool is a safe area, but especially a curious puppy, or one chasing an out of control ball will head straight for the pool.

    • Oh my goodness, Jeni! We learned this the hard way. We had a geriatric mini schnauzer who fell in our pool. It was at night when we were in the house. We were at Home Depot the next morning buying fencing.

  2. It is VERY important to make sure to check the yard daily for anything that could potentially hurt your animal. Luckily my dog is bigger, so I do not have to worry about other animals getting her but I would be scared to death having a little dog and letting them go outside.

    • Michelle – That’s such a good point. A friend’s Yorkie got grabbed by a coyote (in San Diego). Luckily, the neighbors were outside and yelled until it let him go. He was all torn up, but that little fighter made it through. I have a Yorkie, too, and that scared me to death!

  3. Such important information for every dog owner! We have plans to adopt a puppy in the near future and I will be going through that poisonous plant list before we proceed. Thank you!

  4. It is so important to know what plants are poisonous to dogs. When we were planning our gardens this year we made sure to do our research.

    • That was really smart, Claudia. I was really surprised when I first looked at the list, as we have had some of the poisonous ones in our yard in the past.

  5. So much to think about to keep our dog safe! We have a big fenced backyard but we do need to take a closer look at all the things that are in the yard that could be dangerous.

  6. Such a good reminder for dog parents like me! I think it’s really important that we educate ourselves about the plants that could cause harm to our beloved fur babies. Aside from that the insects and animals that they can encounter could be harmful too.

    • Carol, you are so right! I love it when I meet others who take the health and safety of their pets so seriously.

  7. I never thought of the pool being a major hazard for dogs. But then again, I never have owned a pool so its not something that I thought about.

    There has been stories of dogs/cats disappearing in our area. It mostly happens in communities that are near wide open fields. But coyotes and hawks are known for picking up small cats and dogs.

  8. There are rabbits all over my yard and I had no idea their feces were bad for dogs!! I will have to check my yard out closely before I let my Sophie pup loose again!!

    • When I lived in Northeastern Illinois we had an acre of yard. As soon as I let my dogs out their noses started twitching and they headed for the rabbit and deer poop. It was a never-ending chore.

  9. What an awesome tips and a good information about puppy my auntie was giving me a puppy after 2 months and I need to keep this all in my mind.

    • Misty – How lucky for you that you are getting a new puppy! Good luck with it – I know it will give you many hours of fun and love.

  10. We have two golden retrievers and this such a great list of food for thought! In fact, I just pulled up the list of poisonous plants and am going to make sure none of them are lurking in the backyard. x

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