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Sunshine and Safety: Precautions for Outdoor Fun with Your Dog
Outdoor activities provide people and their dogs ample opportunities for physical exercise, mental stimulation, bonding, and just plain fun. However, just like any adventure, safety should always be a priority. With potential dangers such as unpredictable weather, harmful plants, insects, or unexpected encounters with wildlife, pet owners should be prepared. Here, we explore essential precautions that pet owners should take when enjoying outdoor activities with their dogs.
Keep Your Dog Leashed
Most outdoor places have leash laws in place, and for a good reason. Keeping your dog on a leash prevents them from running off and getting lost, encountering aggressive animals, or dashing into traffic. A leash also allows you to control your dog in unexpected situations, providing safety and security for both of you.
Practice Good Recall
Even if you generally use a leash, there may be situations in off-leash areas where your dog needs to come back to you quickly. Ensuring your dog has a solid recall command ("come") is critical for their safety.
You can check out our blog post titled “Ways to Train Your Dog” to see which common training methods could work for you and your canine pal.
Pack a Pet First Aid Kit
Carrying a pet first-aid kit can be a lifesaver in case of emergencies. Include items such as bandages, tweezers (for tick removal), and a list of emergency contact numbers including your vet.
For more suggestions on what to include in your pet first aid kit and how to handle emergencies, take a look at our blog post First Aid Basics for Pets: Be Prepared for Emergencies.
Hydrate and Provide Snacks
Always bring enough water for both you and your dog, and don't forget a portable bowl for your pup. This is especially important when the weather is warm. If you plan to be out for several hours, bring snacks or meals depending on your dog's feeding schedule.
Be Mindful of the Weather
If it's hot, remember that dogs can overheat quickly. Choose cooler parts of the day for activity, and avoid hot pavement that can burn your dog's paw pads. During colder months, consider a doggy jacket for short-haired breeds, and protect their paws with booties if they'll tolerate them.
Check for Ticks and Fleas
After an outdoor adventure, thoroughly check your dog for ticks, fleas, and other pests. These bugs aren't just annoying; they can transmit diseases that affect both pets and humans.
The best way to avoid these disease carrying pests is to prevent them from infesting your pet in the first place. There are many preventative flea and tick treatments available. Some are applied topically, like K9 Advantix II for Dogs. Others are given orally, such as NexGard Soft Chews for Dogs. Most of these treatments need to be administered just once a month. Some, like Bravecto Soft Chews for Dogs, are effective for even longer and need to be given just once every 3 months.
Talk to your vet about the best flea and tick protection for your canine friend.
Be Aware of Toxic Plants
Some plants can be toxic to dogs. Familiarize yourself with these plants and keep your dog away from them. If your dog does ingest a harmful plant, contact your vet immediately.
Toxic plants will vary by region, but our blog post Common Poison Dangers for Pets and How To Avoid Them covers some of the basics.
If you encounter wildlife, keep your dog quiet and controlled, and move away slowly. Wild animals can be unpredictable and may defend themselves if they feel threatened.
Keeping your dog on a leash will help ensure that you have control over them during a wildlife encounter or any other unexpected situation.
Keep Vaccinations Up to Date
If your dog is spending time outdoors, it's essential that their vaccinations are up to date to protect against diseases and other dangers. Routine vaccination can help prevent diseases such as distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus, and rabies.
Depending on your pet’s lifestyle and level of risk, additional vaccines that can help prevent leptospirosis, Lyme disease, canine parainfluenza virus, kennel cough, and canine influenza may be recommended. There is even a rattlesnake toxoid vaccine available, which can help buy your dog time in the event that they are bitten by a rattlesnake.
Ask your veterinarian about the vaccine schedule that would best suit your pup.
Enjoying the great outdoors with your dog can be one of life's greatest pleasures. Being prepared, respectful of the environment, and vigilant about potential dangers can ensure that each outdoor adventure with your furry friend is a safe one. Always remember to trust your instincts - if a situation doesn't feel safe for you or your pet, it's best to avoid it.