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Decks and Balconies - Avoiding Hazards from Falling to Arsenic Poisoning

* Do not leave dogs on balconies and decks unattended. The dog could jump over or squeeze through the railing and be seriously injured or killed. If leashed or otherwise tethered, the dog could fall off and hang himself. And the dog could roast in the hot sun, especially if the water bowl tips over or dries out.

* Even when you accompany a dog onto a deck or balcony, if there is any possibility of the animal fitting through the railings, line the railings with chicken-wire or another mesh.

* Pressure-treated wood. Due to health hazards linked to pressure-treated wood containing chromated copper arsenate (CCA), the EPA requires that it be phased out for residential use this year. However, many existing CCA-treated decks, picnic tables, fencing and other structures will remain. Since a number of reports have linked CCA-treated wood with pet deaths, pet owners should be aware of the hazards and how to reduce them.

* Older decks may need resanding to keep dogs from getting spinters in their feet. Many of us don't go barefoot on our decks and might not notice.

** Wash paws and fur after a pet spends time on a CCA pressure-treated wood deck.

** Do not let pets or kids play in the soil or wood chips beneath CCA-treated wood decks, play equipment or other structures unless the soil area tests negative for arsenic. Also, do not garden in areas with affected soil (arsenic can leach a few inches from its source).

** Avoid power-washing, sawing or sanding CCA-treated wood because this can spread arsenic in your yard.

** If you are building a deck or other structure, be sure to use one of the alternative wood products. For example, vinyl decking, cedar or pressure-treated wood that uses only arsenic-free preservatives. (Arsenic is a known carcinogen. The arsenic was used to protect against insects and rot, but other products offer the same protection.)

** Some pet owners reported their dogs died due to repeatedly drinking water from pools that formed on their decks. So, in addition to not allowing your dog to drink from pools and puddles, you should drill holes in or otherwise modify existing decks so that rainwater will drain instead of collecting. This will remove a common mosquito breeding ground as well.

** Do not let food touch CCA-treated wood.

** Regularly stain the wood with an oil-based stain or sealant.

** For your own protection, wear a dust mask and gloves when drilling, sanding and sawing CCA-treated wood, and keep pets away from the work area.

** Do not burn the wood. Instead, dispose it in a landfill.

Summer Health and Safety Guide:

First Aid Kit and Guidance:
Keep a pet First Aid Kit in your home and car. Take the one you keep in your car with you on trips with your pet. This webpage lists items to include:

When traveling, you can find a nearby veterinarian using AAHA's Animal Hospital Locator:

Poison Prevention and Treatment:
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center emergency 24-hour hotline at 1-888-4-ANI-HELP

Fleas, Ticks, Mosquitoes - Prevention and Treatment

Remedies for Insect Stings and Bites, Hot Spots and other Skin Conditions


For more Dog Tips about pet care, adoption and the work PAW does, visit our website at:

Partnership for Animal Welfare, Inc.
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768