5 ways to keep your dog safe outside

Tips from expert veterinarians

Dogs becoming sick or being attacked by other animals are making headlines recently.

Early February, dogs in Beach neighbourhood were becoming sick and veterinarians weren’t sure what the cause was. In late January, an Etobicoke dog experienced the same sickness and a veterinarian said it was possible the dog consumed something it found on the ground.

But dog owners shouldn’t have to be afraid when taking their dogs out for a walk or letting them outside in their backyards.

Katherine Pittman, a veterinary assistant at Dundas West Animal Hospital, and Chantal Tobin, a veterinary technician at Queen West Animal Hospital, shared tips on how to keep dogs safe when they’re outside on walks or out in the backyard.

GET A GOOD LEASH
A leash is a basic necessity for dogs. Tobin says a leash should be six-feet long — any longer than that is not recommended. That length allows the dog enough space to roam around, but also lets the owner keep a close watch on their dog to prevent it from eating or sniffing dangerous substances.

WATCH THE WEATHER
In the winter, short coated dogs should wear jackets to keep from getting frostbites. Dogs should also wear boots to protect their paws from salt and anti-freeze in the winter and from the hot pavement in the summer. On hot summer days, owners should bring water along with them on walks to keep their dogs hydrated. Dogs should also be let out for a short period of time when the temperatures are extremely high or extremely low as cold temperatures can cause frostbites and hot temperatures can cause heatstroke.

KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN
Owners should be aware at all times, whether they’re walking their dogs or letting them out into the backyard. Skunks and raccoons are nocturnal and hunt during the early mornings and late evenings, owners should always check ahead of them when they’re walking their dogs and check their backyards for wildlife before releasing their dogs. Owners should also make sure their dogs aren’t eating anything they find off the ground. Basket muzzles can also be used to prevent dogs from picking things off the ground.

OBEDIENCE TRAINING
Training a dog so that it will know what’s right and wrong is helpful in preventing dangerous encounters with the dog. Owners can teach their dogs “drop it” or “leave it” commands, so they won’t eat things from the ground. Teaching dogs good walking habits are also helpful for owners who want their dogs to behave while on walks. Commands are good to keep dangerous things away, but owners should also allow their dogs to sniff and smell nature as well.

REFLECTIVE WEAR
Humans often wear reflective gear, but dogs can wear it too. Owners can use reflective leashes or collars for their dogs to allow cars to see their dogs in the night. Reflective vests can also be used to better allow the dog to be seen. It is also recommended that owners wear the appropriate attire during dark hours to not only protect themselves, but their dogs as well.