When I first heard this said I was participating in training with my dog for assisted animal therapy work. The instructor was explaining how important it is to be aware of where your dog is at all times in a public therapy setting. As your dog’s handler you are the only one who can lookout for your dog’s safety. Doing that is your responsibility. Protecting your dog from too many people petting or approaching at once, people or children running toward your dog too fast, being aware of where your dog is at all times so nothing adverse can happen to your dog or to another person.
This was the first time I had ever been told to consider this as part of my responsibility in caring for my dogs in such a comprehensive way. I had always maintained an overall sense of safety for my dogs, like making sure they got to the vet if they needed care. I watched so they wouldn’t get into things that could harm them, like sharp objects. But this particular training caused me to think about my dog’s safety at a deeper level. I now think about my dogs in the context of where we are and what I need to do to keep them safe. I think very specifically about the dog and what the dog needs at that time. For example, even when the dogs are playing in the back yard I check on them periodically to make sure they are ok. I make sure any lawn or landscape treatments are safe for dogs and children. My dogs eat grass. I don’t want them eating chemicals with the grass. My dogs are micro-chipped and have tags for identification purposes.
When I think about safety for dogs, there are multiple situations that demand good safety practices. I'm going to take you through a few of these and offer suggestions for what you can do to promote optimal safety for your dog:
- Dog’s paws are sensitive to heat. If it too hot for your feet it is too hot for your dogs feet. Keep your dog off very hot pavements or other hot surfaces like truck beds. A truck bed can get so hot it will burn dog’s paws.
- The same applies to cold weather. Booties for dogs can prove very helpful in protecting dog’s paws from frostbite.
- Winter coats are also a good idea if you walk your dog a lot in cold weather. It is a popular belief that dogs don’t need more then their coats to keep them warm. That is not true. Dog’s coats are not enough to keep them warm in really cold weather.
- Dogs sweat by panting through their mouth and sweating through their paws. Provide them with cold fresh water throughout the day. On walks in hot weather take cold water with you for yourself and the dogs. Spray the bottom of the dogs paws with cold water from a spray bottle.
- Dogs can develop heat stroke quickly. Take shorter walks on hot summer days earlier in the morning to avoid the hottest sun.
- Even if your dog is an athlete and runs routinely with you, dogs are more vulnerable to heat and may need to take shorter runs or none at all until the heat and humidity become more acceptable.
- When dogs are outside playing on a cold winter day watch them and if they begin to raise their paws off the ground it may be time to call them in.
- Never leave a dog in a closed or locked car in the summer. The inside temperature of the car rises very quickly and too many dogs have died this way.
- On very hot days dogs will thank you for keeping them in the air conditioning or in the shade. Especially older dogs and dogs with health issues.
- On enjoyable temperature day’s dogs need to play and get as much exercise as they want. Long walks and runs in the backyard or other safe enclosed areas are great exercise.
It is important to be mindful of our dogs in all types of weather. Loving them and respecting their needs is what we do as their pet parent.
Foods dogs should not eat:
- Macadamia nuts
- Milk and dairy products
(dogs are lactose intolerant)
- Onions and chives
- Persimmons, peaches and plums
- Rhubarb and tomato leaves
- Raw fish
(cooked salmon or trout is fine)
- Yeast (on it’s own or in dough)
- Baby food
- Cooked bones
- Candy and chewing gum
- Cat food
- Corn on the cob
- Fat trimmings
- Grapes and raisins
- Human vitamins
- Liver in large amounts
A comprehensive list of these foods and explanations about each food can be found on the Canine Journal. It's important to check all the ingredients is all food you give your dog whether it is dog food or human grade food. There are many human grade foods dogs can eat and will benefit from nutritionally. The foods listed here are potentially toxic for dogs and need to be avoided for our dog’s health and safety.
- Treating grass and landscape with pet friendly treatments is important. Dogs like to eat grass and will ingest toxic chemicals if present.
- Pest control with pet friendly products. They are available and do just as well at keeping pests at bay.
- Fenced in back yard is a safe place for dogs to exercise and a space they can call their own and be safe in.
- Making sure dogs do not have access to toxic items in the house like human medication, chewing gum, string, or any object they could easily swallow that could cause obstruction in the dogs GI tract or other internal organs.
- Keep counters safe in the kitchen and bathrooms where dogs can access food items or other objects that could be toxic or harmful to them.
- Give dogs plenty of their own toys and chews to have for their very own access. If dogs have enough of their own “things” they will be less likely to get into our human “things”.
In case a dog is lost, identification is critical in helping locate the dog and bringing them home.
- Microchip is the most widely used and assured way of having identification on your dog. It is important to register your dog with the microchip database so your dog can be found. A microchip without registration is not able to locate a lost dog.
- External tags on a dogs collar are another method. Tags can be lost and information on tags can sometimes fade and make them difficult to read.
- Tattoos are another form of id and are long lasting but can fade over time.
Our dogs are very special to us. We love them and also have a huge responsibility to take care of them. Our dogs need us to look out for them and make sure they are safe at all times. Providing this sense of safety and security for our dogs helps build the bond in our relationship with them. This is a bond that builds a long and loving relationship for many years.