SinDelle runs the Georgia Herb & Egg Co. in Dublin, GA, and has lots of experience doing DIY around the farm.
A dog running and playing to his heart's content outside can be one of the most beautiful things you'll ever see. However, there are dangers for your furry family member outdoors, but with a little caution and a few simple guidelines, you can be sure that your pet enjoys the outdoors for years to come.
Always Monitor the Weather
Dogs love to go with us everywhere, especially outside. However, they don't always respond to the weather the way that we do. They have a different method of cooling themselves than we do and they can become overheated or hypothermic much faster than we can. Certain breeds do not handle the heat very well at all, such as bulldogs. Others, such as those with thin coats, do not handle cold weather well. Dogs should be brought inside when weather is too extreme. Never leave your dog in a car with the windows rolled up, even for a minute and even if you don't think it's that hot outside. If your dog cannot come inside with you, he will be happier at home.
Signs of Overheating in Dogs
- Fast, noisy breathing
- Bright red or blue gums
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Signs of Hypothermia in Dogs
- Slow shallow breathing
- Muscle stiffness
- Low blood pressure
- Blank stare
- Fixed and dilated pupils
- Heartbeat that’s hard to find
- Difficulty breathing
Always Check Your Dog for Parasites
Dogs that go outside can be bitten by fleas, ticks, chewing lice, mosquitoes and more. These parasites can carry diseases that can seriously harm your pet, like Lyme Disease. Always check your pets for parasites and put them on a preventative treatment to control the number of parasites that affect them. If your dog exhibits signs of anemia or Lyme Disease, take him to the vet right away.
Signs of Anemia in Dogs
- exercise intolerance/difficulty exercising
- decreased appetite
- pale gums
Signs of Lyme Disease in Dogs
- fever (103 and 105°)
- lameness; trouble walking or moving
- swelling in the joints
- swollen lymph nodes
- lethargy or acting tired
- loss of appetite
Don't Leave Your Dog Tied Up
It goes without saying that your dog should not live outdoors on a chain, but even if your dog is only on a tether for a short time, he can still be hurt. Dogs on chains can become strangled or injured by the chain, especially when they are frightened. They may panic and attempt to escape a loud noise or other frightening situation, causing them to get hurt. There is also the danger from a dog on a chain. Because they know they are unable to flee from danger, dogs on chains often become hyper-territorial and overly aggressive; in fact, many dog attacks involve chained dogs. If your dog bites somebody, he could be taken from you and destroyed.
Living on a chain is also a lonely, excluded life for your pet. Dogs want to be part of our families, but more than that, social interaction is necessary for them because they are a pack animal. Dogs that interact with the family are more social, friendlier and happier. Dogs, like all family members, have a place and a job to do within the family structure. They are happiest when they are able to do it.
Most importantly to the safety of your pet, though, is the fact that a dog on a chain is an easy target for predators and people who steal or are cruel to animals. Your dog cannot run away from danger when he is tied up.
How to Keep Your Pet Safe
- Don't leave your pets tethered outside for any length of time where you cannot see them
- Place tethers close to the house so that anyone approaching your dog will be seen
- If you hear your dog barking while he is tethered, check to see why
- If you leave the house, put your dog inside
Don't Let Your Dog Run Loose
Not only is this illegal in most areas, it is dangerous. Dogs that run at large can be hit by cars, killed by predators like coyotes in rural areas, attacked by other dogs, eat things that make them sick, and they can also harm other people's animals or destroy other people's property. They can become lost, they can become injured to where they cannot get home, they can be bitten by snakes or even shot.
Whether you live in the city or a more rural area, nothing sours a neighbor or community relationship faster than a dog that will not stay in his own yard. If your dog uses the bathroom in a neighbor's yard, the neighbor will be very unhappy with you and your dog. If your dog kills a neighbor's livestock, attacks their pets or chases their children, he may be seized by the county and euthanized. Even if your dog is friendly, not everyone is kind animals. Many tragic events have happened in situations where dogs were allowed to run at large. Dogs that are not with their family are easy targets.
Why You Shouldn't Let Your Dog Loose
- Never allow your dog to run at large, even if you live in the country
- If you do allow your dog off-leash, always keep him in your sight
- Train your dog so that he will obey if he must be called back
- Socialize your dog well so that he does not go after people or their animals
- Always clean up after your dog
Don't Let Your Dog Bark Excessively
Dogs bark. It's just a fact of life. Fish gotta swim, bird gotta fly, dog gotta bark. However, dogs that bark excessively are a nuisance to the entire community and people may decide to take matters into their own hands if you do not do something to control it. Many wonderful pets have been stolen and even killed for this very reason. Dogs that bark too much also lose their ability to guard the home (their primary function and a job they take very seriously) because when a dog barks all the time, people start ignoring it. This creates a situation where the dog may be trying to alert their family to a real problem but the family does not notice because they are used to the dog's constant barking about everything.
Dogs bark for many reasons. They bark because they are alerting others. They bark because they are happy. They bark because they are afraid. They bark because they are overstimulated. They bark because they are bored. Excessive or nuisance barking is a sign that there is a problem somewhere. This problem should be found and addressed. Adequate attention, training and exercise are the best ways to curb nuisance barking.
Why You Shouldn't Let Your Dog Bark Excessively
- Don't allow your dog to bark excessively while he is outside; bring him in
- If neighbors complain that your dog is barking too much, don't ignore it
- Exercise your dog so that he does not have to spend excess energy in other ways
- Socialize your dog well so that he does not bark at every noise or person
Keep a Reasonable Number of Dogs
Loving animals often means the more the merrier. However, more dogs means more noise and more potential for problems, even if you live in the country. Dogs that "pack up" can display behavior they ordinarily would not. They can become aggressive and territorial. They may seek out other dogs to fight with, or pull down livestock. If they escape the yard, they may run the streets chasing or attacking people. Many fatal dog attacks involve more than one dog. Dogs in a pack may also turn on weaker members of the pack and attack or even kill them. This can result in your dogs being poisoned or shot by neighbors, killed by other animals or seized by the county and destroyed. Police officers that encounter aggressive dogs will also shoot them.
Most areas have ordinances against having too many dogs. It is best not to have more than 3 adult dogs, regardless of the law in your county. This prevents them from all ganging up on one dog or other animals in the house. The best way to keep the number of animals in your household down is by spaying and neutering your pets. Pets that have been sterilized are happier, healthier, friendlier, and they live longer.
Tips to Taking Care of Your Pets
- Spay or neuter your pets
- Don't take on more animals than you can control or care for
- Make sure enclosures can hold the number and type of dogs that you have
- Don't allow your dog(s) to run with neighborhood dogs, even in the country
- Learn to recognize the signs of dominance in dogs
Don't Leave Your Dog in an Unlocked Enclosure
Dogs love being outdoors, so there may be times when your dog wants to stay outside for a while, especially when it's nice out. If you can't stay out there with him, keep him in an enclosure that has a lock. This not only prevents him from escaping and eliminates issues involved with tethering, it prevents other animals from entering and it stops people from stealing or harming your dog. If you must leave the house, bring your dog inside.
If you choose to place a shelter in the enclosure for your dog, make sure that he cannot stand on it and escape - or injure himself trying.
We love our dogs and we love being outdoors hanging out with them. Our pets are our family and as long as you follow these simple guidelines, you can lower the risk to your furry family members considerably.
Is Your Dog Ready for Winter?
When the temperatures drop, dogs need special care to stay healthy, safe, and warm. Whether your pup spends lots of time outdoors or goes out for a couple of quick walks, they need your help to avoid cold-weather health hazards. Keep a few basic tips in mind this winter.
Watch out on walks: Snow and ice can take a toll on your dog’s paws. If they suddenly starts limping during a walk, check for ice between their toes, and soothe cracked or red paw pads with a little petroleum jelly. You can buy booties to protect pets’ paws from the cold and ice, but be sure that they fit well and that they don’t keep your dog from enjoying their time outdoors.
Grab a sweater: Dogs with thick fur probably don’t need an extra layer when they head outside, but smaller breeds and those with short coats may be happier in a cozy sweater or coat.
Don’t leave pets in the car: Just as your vehicle traps heat in the summer, it can stay cold on a winter day, making it feel like a refrigerator for your pup. Dogs left in a cold car for too long can freeze to death.
Make your house the dog’s house: If your dog spends most of their time outside, you need to be careful when winter sets in, even if they have a doghouse. The best way to keep your pooch safe is to keep them inside with you. But if you must keep them outdoors, make sure they have a doghouse that’s dry, free of drafts, with a floor that’s off the ground, and a doorway covered with a flap to keep out wind and rain. But even with all that, bring them indoors when the temps fall below freezing.
Keep chemicals away: Your car’s antifreeze tastes sweet to pets, but it can be deadly if they swallow it. So clean up any spills right away and keep containers of the chemical out of pets’ reach. Ice melt and salt can dry out the pads on your dog’s paws, which makes them more likely to get cracked and irritated. Wipe their paws clean after every walk.
Give extra helpings: If your dog spends a lot of time exercising outside in the cold, they’ll burn more calories and may need a little extra food to help them refuel. Ask your vet if you should add a little more to their bowl in the colder months. It may help to give them several small meals throughout the day instead of one large one.
Take care of sensitive skin: Just like your skin, your dog’s skin gets drier, itchier, and flakier in the winter. Don’t bathe them as often as you do in the summer -- that strips away their coat’s natural oils. When you do get them into the tub, use a moisturizing shampoo.
Recheck their collar, tag, and chip: It’s easier for dogs to get lost in the winter than at other times of the year. If they get away from you, piles of snow and ice can cover up the familiar scents they would normally use to find their way back home. So make sure their collar is secure, their tag information is up to date and, if they have a microchip, make sure the registration for that is current.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: “Cold Weather Safety Tips.”
Jefferson County, CO, Animal Control: “Seasonal Pet Care.”
American Veterinary Medical Association: “Cold Weather Pet Safety.”
The Humane Society: “Protect Your Pet During Winter and Cold Weather.”
The Humane Society of Utah: “Cold Weather Care for Dogs.”
Simple Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe as Temperatures Rise
Kate Singer | August 12, 2020 | FeaturedPet Tips
As we start moving toward warmer weather, everyone is itching to get outside for some fun in the sun.
But before you head outdoors with your pup, read these tips on keeping them safe during hotter temperatures.
Stay on Top of Flea and Tick Prevention
Warmer weather means flea and tick season! Before you even think about heading outdoors, make sure that your pet is up to date on flea and tick medications. However, it’s worth mentioning that your pet should already be on a monthly flea preventative. It is much harder to rid them from your home after they’ve started to reproduce.
Be Careful With Hot Surfaces
Always check surfaces before bringing your dog outside. If the pavement feels too hot for your bare feet, it’s definitely too hot for your dog’s paws. If you can’t avoid walking your dog across a hot sidewalk or hot pavement, invest in a product to protect their feet, like boots or a topical product.
Have Plenty of Fresh Water
Dogs lose moisture a lot faster than humans do, and hotter temperatures can cause your dog to dehydrate quickly. Always make sure that your dog has access to plenty of fresh, clean water to drink while outside. And if you’re going on a walk, bring a water bottle and portable bowl for frequent water breaks.
Be Sensible About Exercise
Avoid taking your dog out during the middle of the day, when the highest temperatures occur. Instead, save those long walks and playtimes for early morning or late evening hours when the temperatures are more bearable. If you absolutely can’t avoid taking your dog out during the middle of the day, keep activity to a minimum.
Leave Your Dog at Home
Unlike humans, dogs rely on panting to cool themselves. Their panting exchanges warm body temperature for the cooler air around them. If the air outside isn’t cooler than their body temperature, their cooling system doesn’t work and they could suffer heat stroke. If it’s simply too hot outside for your canine friend, it’s best to just leave them at home for the time being. Risking heat stroke isn’t worth it.
Learn the Signs of Heat Stroke
Call your veterinarian immediately if your pup starts exhibiting symptoms like lethargy, excessive panting, discolored gums, or vomiting. Try to cool your dog down by moving them into the shade or indoors as quickly as possible, offering them water to drink and using a wet towel or ice packs to bring their body temperature down.
Keeping pets safe in cold weather
As winter settles in across the state, Animal Humane Society urges pet owners to think twice when letting pets outside for extended periods of time. Temperatures below freezing along with wind chill can prove deadly for our domesticated pets.
Keep your pets safe during the blistering cold winter months with these tips.
Indoor pet tips:
- During severe weather, dogs should be let out only to relieve themselves. Cats should be kept indoors at all times.
- Remove ice, salt and caked mud from your pet's paws and coat immediately.
- Before walks, put Vaseline or doggie shoes on your dogs' paws to protect him/her from sidewalk salt and chemicals wipe the Vaseline off when back inside.
- Make sure your pet’s bed is not on the floor in a cold or drafty area of your home.
- Indoor dogs typically receive less exercise during cold weather and therefore may require fewer calories. Feed smaller portions in order to avoid weight gain. Keep them busy with indoor brain games.
Outdoor pet tips:
- Minnesota state law governs all companion animals be provided shelter from the elements. In severe weather, allow your pet to be in your house or garage.
- Outdoor pets typically need more food in cold weather because they must burn more calories to keep warm.
- Check for frostbite, especially on paws and ears.
- Make sure your pet’s water is never frozen.
- Keep an eye out for and clean up all antifreeze spills — one lick of the sweet-tasting fluid can be fatal to an animal.
- Cats have been known to climb onto vehicle engines for warmth. Knock on the hood of your car before starting the engine if you suspect your cat could be inside.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia — weak pulse, dilated pupils, decreased heart rate, extreme shivering, pale or blue mucous membranes, body temperature below 95 degrees, stupor and unconsciousness. Consequences of extreme hypothermia may include neurological problems including coma, heart problems and kidney failure.
If you have additional questions or concerns about how to care for your pet in subzero temperatures, please check with your veterinarian.
See an animal left outside in cold weather? Speak out!
Can I Leave My Dog Outside All of The Time?
We’ve all experienced it, and in many neighborhoods you can hear more than one: the continuous, barking of a dog ignored and left in the backyard. Does he want out? Does he want food? It’s likely he just wants to be a part of his family. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Some dog-owners think the best place for their dogs is outside, all the time.
Reasons vary, but in our opinion none of them are really all that good. Some dogs are left outside because they shed and their owners want to keep their houses clean. Other dogs are locked out because of destructive behavior or other bad behavior. And yet other dogs are left out in the cold because someone in the household is allergic to them.
Sadly, often dogs are left outside by dog-owners that aren’t putting enough effort into their pets. Whether they’re unwilling or unable to train and socialize their dogs, or whether they have unrealistic expectations of their dog’s behavior, some people find it easier to just keep their dogs outside.
But leaving a dog in the backyard can lead to a number of bad habits in dogs that might force the owner to want to give the dog away. Endless barking, destructive digging, chewing offurniture, hoses, sprinklers, and shrubs are some possibilities. Some dogs left outside extensively become aggressive or hostile.
Dogs are pack animals, and once they are welcomed into a family, humans become their pack.
We urge all pet-owners and would-be pet-owners to choose a dog that’s right for their lifestyle and can fit into their “pack.” If you want your house to be spick and span, for example, it’s not a good idea to get a German Shepherd or other dog that sheds heavily. If you don’t have time to train and exercise a big, energetic dog, look for a smaller, mellower breed. Most of all, if you’re not willing to welcome a dog into your family with open arms and open doors, it’s probably best to consider another pet. It’s not fair to the dog, and it’s not fair for you.
After all, we love dogs most of all for their companionship. You’re not going to get much joy out of a dog that spends all its time away from you.
If you currently have a dog that you’ve been keeping outside because of behavior problems, talk to your veterinarian or a behavioralist. If you’re keeping a dog outside because a member of your household is allergic, talk with an allergist. The best and happiest dogs are dogs that are a part of family.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.