7 Dog Walking Dangers to Watch Out For
Dog walking is a necessary daily activity for every pup, no matter the breed. It has great health benefits both for the dog and the owner alike, and it’s likely your pet’s most favourite part of the day. But while this might be a great time to bond and have fun with your furry family member, you still need to be on the lookout for the potential dangers.
In this article, we will list a few of the most common threats you can encounter while exploring outdoors and give you tips on how to avoid them.
Fast food containers, cleaning products, toxic debris, and illegal substances – all these plus other kinds of litter you may encounter during your walk. Scavenging is in the dog’s nature, so don’t be surprised when your pet tries to get a taste of whatever they can find.
Unfortunately, most of these items can be very harmful, leaving painful wounds in the dog’s mouth and throat or lead to serious choking hazards. That’s why you always need to scan the ground for hazardous litter, and it’s better to teach your pup the “drop it” command in case they bite on to something before you see it.
All responsible pet owners always bend down to pick up their dog’s waste, wrap it in a compostable poop bag and then place it in the rubbish container, but unfortunately, not everyone is equally thoughtful. Although eating faeces is a common behavioural trait among dogs, consuming random poop might be a serious health threat. Your pet might end up swallowing faeces contaminated with parasites and diseases.
If you’ve noticed that your dog has a tendency for eating poop, you’ll need to be especially vigilant when walking in an area popular among other canine visitors. Pay close attention to the ground during the walk, so you can steer your dog away from other dog’s poops.
Although it might seem there could be nothing better than a long summer walk, hot weather poses a few health risks to our furry companions. The most common troubles that come along with the extra sun exposure are sunburns and heatstroke. That’s why it’s advised to apply dog-friendly sunscreen to the areas where the fur is thin, make sure your dog gets plenty of water, and try your best to avoid walking your pet at peak temperatures during summer.
The other sun-related concern is getting the dog’s paw pads burnt on the hot pavement. A great rule to follow here is if the surface is too hot for the palm of your hand, it's likely too hot for your dog’s feet as well.
Depending on the area you live in, you could encounter anything from rats to feral cats while walking your dog, and these wild animals can be dangerous to your pet’s wellbeing if they meet face-to-face. No matter how big, it’s very important for you and your pup to respect the local wildlife. Dogs have very high prey drives and will want to chase every furry creature they see, so it’s your responsibility to hold the leash tight to keep both animals safe.
If your dog still manages to get in a fight and sustain any injuries, it’s advised to cover the wound with plastic wrap, apply pressure to the bleeding areas and seek emergency veterinary help as soon as possible.
Some wild animals, including bats and feral cats, can be a source of rabies, while rodents can spread tapeworms to dogs – an important reminder to always keep up to date with your pup’s vaccinations.
Toxic plants are one of the biggest threats for your dog when you’re on a walk. Unfortunately, many pet owners don’t realize that the plants in their neighbourhood could be poisonous, so it’s very important to educate yourself on this topic.
You should be on extra alert for Karaka tree berries while walking your pup during the summer months – if eaten by your dog, these berries can be fatal.
Among the other common plants that can be poisonous for your pet are Black nightshade, Deathcap mushroom, New Zealand tree nettle (Onga Onga), Daffodils (especially the bulbs), Foxgloves, Ivy (some species), Rhubarb, and Aloe Vera.
Some plants make your pet sick instantly, while others work slower. So, if your dog starts vomiting, acts alert or dizzy, head to your vet immediately.
Ticks and Fleas
The other potential danger for dogs is the infectious diseases passed by fleas and ticks. They usually reside in shrubs and long grass waiting for an animal to brush past so they can attach and start feeding. Ticks can transmit several life-threatening diseases such as ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme disease.
Although most of the external parasites are more active during warmer months, some tick species prefer cooler weather, so watch out for them all year round. To limit the risk of your pet’s infestation, taking the monthly prescription for tick and flea as well as regular visits to the vet is strongly advised.
No matter how well-behaved and good-natured your dog is, you can’t account for the actions of the other dogs while on the walk. That’s why it’s crucial to be on alert at every encounter with an unfamiliar dog, taking in to account their unique personality into consideration.
The best way to protect your pup is to be aware of the particular triggers that may cause your pet to become overly agitated and ensure its safety with proper collars, leashes, and harnesses. These need to be comfortable and fit perfectly to prevent your dog from slipping out of them.
Daily walks are a great opportunity for your dog to socialise, exercise, and bond with you. Seeing new people, new things, meeting new dogs and other creatures can help your dog become more confident and comfortable with the big world around them. And as long as you keep your eye out for potential dangers while using the right safety measures, you can be sure that all the walks with your furry companion will be good ones.