Fall is here and there is a little bit of crispness in the air. Yes, it's still over 100 degrees out, but you can feel that the fall weather is not too far way! As the temperatures begin to cool down, this means that there will be more dog walking in your future. While walking a dog might be "a walk in the park" there are still some dangers to be aware of.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to help keep your pet safe while exploring the outdoors. The more you know about the potential dangers to watch out for when walking your dog, the better you can protect them.
Since dogs can’t speak for themselves, it’s our job as pet parents to keep them out of harm’s way. Part of that means paying close attention to the weather when we are walking the dog. So, how do you protect your dog in the hot temperatures? Test the pavement yourself. If a surface is too hot for you to keep the palm of your hand on, then it is too hot for the dog’s feet. Avoid walking your dog at peak temperature times. Cut walks short, and always make sure your dog is getting plenty of water.
Owners of short-nosed or flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds should be particularly careful when bringing their dogs out in hot weather, he adds, because they can’t cool down as easily as long-nosed dogs.
Walking your dog could lead to an exposure to a variety of internal parasites, especially if your pet is known to roll around in (or eat) dirt or poop from other animals. Dogs can also be exposed from cleaning and licking dirty paws after a walk, picking up muddy sticks, sticking their nose in the dirt and then licking it off, and drinking from outdoor sources.
Be knowledgeable about the parasitic risks you might encounter when taking your dog for a walk. Eating prey animals can also lead to parasitic infection, so be careful if letting your dog off-leash. If your dog enjoys hunting or chasing smaller animals, like rodents and rabbits, know that he could be exposed to roundworms, hookworms, or certain species of tapeworms. These parasites can also be spread from animals to people. You should also use caution around unknown water sources. If your dog drinks out of a stagnant pond, it can lead to toxicity or intestinal upset.
One of the most serious potential hazards for dogs are infectious diseases passed by ticks. Ticks are external parasites that often reside in long grass or shrubs. They wait for an animal (or person) to brush by so they can grab on and start feeding. Aside from Lyme disease, ticks can transmit several other life-threatening diseases that diminish a dog’s quality of life, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis. Humans are also susceptible to some of the same tick-borne diseases that affect pets.
When possible, steer clear of tall grass on walks and always check your dog for ticks when you get home. (Don’t forget to look between his toes and in his ears!)
Dogs love to eat things they shouldn’t and this behavior can lead to toxicity or intestinal obstruction. There are countless risks lurking inside the garbage or on the ground: prescription medications, cleaning products, toxic foods––so always be aware of your surroundings as your dog sniffs around. Teach your dog to “leave it” so he’ll move away from questionable items.
There’s nothing scarier than the thought of your dog running into oncoming traffic, yet thousands of animals are killed by cars each year. No matter how much you trust your dog, it’s vital to keep her leashed when moving vehicles are nearby. Learn the signs that your dog is about to make a break for it. As soon as you see this happening, try distracting your dog with treats or toys. Use positive reinforcement and praise throughout the walk to communicate that not reacting to cars will be rewarded.