Safety Tips When Taking Your Dog For A Walk
- by Chris Irwin
As a dog parent, you'll always do everything you can to ensure your pooch is both safe and healthy, right? Regardless of what breed you have, they all need regular exercise, so taking them for a walk should be part of your day-to-day routine. But, whether you decide on a quick 15-minute stroll, or a longer hike, when you take your dog outside, you're exposing them to new hazards. So, as a pet owner, it's essential to know what these hazards are, and how you can deal with them.
After all, the more you learn about them, the more you will be able to protect your pet from them.
With summer now in full swing, taking your dog for a walk during certain times of the day can pose a serious risk. The constant concern pet owners deal with during this time of year is the heat, as exercising in such hot weather can lead to heatstroke.
Short-nosed breeds are especially vulnerable to the heat, as they don't have the same ability to cool down quickly like long-nosed breeds. If you do decide to take your dog for a walk during a hot day, make sure to watch out for signs of a heat stroke. And remember, the heat also causes pavements and other ground surfaces to become scorching hot during the day, meaning your dog's paws can develop blisters and burns.
Before walking your dog, there are a couple of things you can do to ensure their safety.
If you decide to take your dog for a walk in the middle of the day, try placing your hand on the pavement first. If the floor is too hot for you to keep your hand on, then it is too hot for your dog to walk outside. Try changing the hour of the day you take your dog for a walk; it's advisable to go early morning or early evening.
Lastly, you can try shortening their walk time, instead of doing a 30-minute walk in one go, try doing shorter walks multiple times a day. But, no matter when you take your dog for a walk, always make sure to bring a portable water bottle!
Yes, you read that correctly! Even though we all know the threats of parasites, we never believe our sweet little pups could pick one up on a casual afternoon walk. But the truth is that every time you go on a walk, you're exposing your pet to parasites, especially if they like to roll in the dirt, eat it, or even eat other animals' faeces.
Parasites can live anywhere, so simple things like licking their paws after a walk, picking up dirty sticks, placing their nose in the dirt and drinking water from unknown sources can cause your pup to get seriously sick.
If you tend to leave your dog off the leash when you walk, make sure to keep on eye on what they get up to. Eating infected faeces and soil can expose your dog to roundworm eggs, hookworms, whipworms, and many more little nasties. Even if there are no parasites, your dog may be exposed to an illness known as giardia if they drink water from contaminated sources.
There are things you can do to protect your dog from parasites, however, and it's vital to administer your pooch with year-round parasite protection, particularly deworming pills, to avoid the issues above. Chat to your vet about the best option and dosage for your dog.
Similar to parasites, when taking your dog for a walk, they can be exposed to diseases caused by tick bites.
Ticks are commonly found in areas with tall grass, and, as your dogs walk by, they can jump on your poor pup and start biting. The most common tick disease is Lyme disease, but numerous other conditions can arise from a tick bite and put your dog in danger. Take extra precautions when walking through long grass in the summer months, as ticks are usually more active during summer. Some are also active during winter, however, so year-round protection is a must if you and your dog walk often!
If possible, stay clear of tall grass, especially during summer, and ensure you're administering tick protection where necessary.
If you walk your dog close to streets and populated areas, make sure to look out for the oncoming cars. Some dogs have noise phobias and sensitivity, so they may experience heightened fear from loud noises, such as when a car drives past. The important thing here is to make sure that your dog stays on the leash!
It's vital that you choose the right equipment for your dog as well, so quality material wins every time. Focus on nylon, leather, or cotton. Similarly, it's advisable to pick a body harness over a leash, as you will have more control over your dog.
During a walk, dogs have a gross habit of sniffing and picking things up from the floor, as well as eating things they shouldn't. Keep a watchful eye on your dog so they don't eat anything that can cause toxicity or intestinal obstructions. In these situations, your best bet is to teach your dog to "leave it" or avoid areas that you believe are highly littered.
Keeping your dog on a leash also has its advantages, as one can see more clearly what the dog is trying to pick up from the floor.
We're all just trying to be fair and responsible pet parents, and there is no guide on what's right or wrong. Educating yourself on the potential hazards your pets face when outside will ensure you're doing all you can to minimise their exposure!