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Beyond The Basics | Risks | Potential Dog Risks

There are several potential dog risks that you need to be aware of in order to care for your dog. Many of these can be minimised simply by being aware of them.  For others, there are preventative measures you can take to protect your hound from harm.

Risks TO Your Dog:

  • Internal and external parasites. This includes worms, fleas and ticks; preventative measures can be taken by regularly giving your dog treatments to prevent infection.
  • Disease. Vaccinations are important to protect your dog against infectious diseases, including parovirus and canine distemper. Advice on the regularity and makes of vaccinations is frequently changing, so it is best to keep in touch with your vet and possibly use titre testing every so often to measure the levels of antibodies in your pet’s blood. Vaccines, however, do not protect against all diseases; if you notice a change in your dog’s behaviour (for example lethargy, not eating) or any physical changes (such as a raised temperature) it is important to have him checked by your vet as soon as possible.
  • Injury. Whilst sometimes injury is unavoidable, you can do your best to avoid exposing your dog to situations, which might cause him harm. Examples of this include not throwing sticks for your dog, or allowing him to race into bodies of water, which could potentially be dangerous until checked. Make sure that if your dog becomes badly injured, you seek veterinary advice immediately. For dedicated dog owners, pet first aid courses are now commonly available.
  • Poisonous foods etc. There is an extensive list of foods that are dog risks. Common ones include: tea & coffee (caffeine), chocolate, grapes and raisins, Xylitol (found in chewing gum and some peanut butters), alcohol, onions & garlic. There are also several poisons in the home environment – such as household cleaning products, human medicines, slug pellets, sticks/branches from certain trees and plants (including Laburnum, daffodil bulbs). If your dog ingests something he shouldn’t, again get in touch with your vet as soon as possible. If the product has a packet, take it with you to your vet so that they can ensure he receives the correct treatment quickly.
  • Other animals. Your dog can cause a threat to other animals, but equally other animals can be potential dog risks! A herd of cattle may stampede and will often chase dogs. If your dog is seen to be worrying sheep, the farmer can shoot him. Be particularly aware of your dog around other animals!
  • Other dogs. It is a sad fact of life that some dogs, often due to a lack of early socialisation, just do not tolerate interactions with others. If your dog is allowed to approach all other dogs, he could end up being attacked for attempting to be friendly. To prevent this happening ensure your dog is given permission by you to approach other dogs – including those he knows. Be a responsible dog owner – ask if it is all right for your dog to interact with others, especially if the other dog is on a lead.
  • Other people. Allowing your dog to approach and demand interaction with other people is also a dangerous habit, particularly if he does this by jumping up. The Dangerous Dogs Act can be enforced if any person is made to feel fearful by your dog’s actions – this can include jumping up – and it will be argued that your dog is ‘dangerously out of control’! Bear in mind that in some religions such as Islam, dogs are ‘dirty’ animals and so strict followers of these religions will not appreciate your dog’s approach; neither will people who are allergic to or scared of dogs. On the other end of the scale, there are people around who attempt to steal dogs. Your dog can be ‘stolen to order’, or perhaps even taken to be used as a bait dog for fighting. This phenomenon is sadly on the increase, so please NEVER leave your dog somewhere (such as in your garden or tethered outside a shop) where this could easily occur.
  • The environment. Consider carefully where you take your dog; if there are areas where there is commonly a lot of rubbish, rat poison or even drug users, avoid the area whenever possible. Be aware of potential dog risks like broken glass when you are walking your dog. His home environment also should be carefully considered; ensure the garden is free of dangerous items, such as gardening tools, barbed wire, etc. Inside your home, be aware of your dog’s quirks; for example, if he is a prolific chewer, do not leave him in areas where he could cause damage for example by chopping through electric cables.

 

Risks FROM Your Dog:

In addition to risks your dog may encounter, there may be risks to yourself and your family caused by your dog.

  • Changes in behaviour. As your dog matures, he may succumb to age related health issues much the same as humans do – arthritis, limited vision, decreased ability to hear, and memory loss. When dogs are in pain or confused, they can behave abnormally, at times aggressively – as soon as you notice your dog becoming uncomfortable, seek advice from your vet to help make him as comfortable as possible. Training of children (especially small ones) is also imperative. This is also applicable if your dog ever injures himself: please be very careful when handling a dog in pain, as even the most placid and friendly of canines can behave uncharacteristically when in severe pain.
  • Parasites. If your dog carries parasites, these can have a negative effect on the health of the humans around him. Fleas will infect soft furnishings where he has access, so if your dog contracts them, carpets, curtains, sofas etc will need treating. Worm parasites in dog faeces can also cause blindness if they come into contact with human eyes; some worm eggs can also be infectious to people if accidentally ingested.
  • Infectious diseases. Some diseases carried by dogs – for example, Campylobacter, Toxoplasmosis – can be transferred to humans. It is vitally important that you ensure high levels of hygiene, especially when dealing with any excretions from your dog. This is of particular importance to young children, pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems.
  • Physical injury. If your dog is over-exuberant, pulls strongly on a lead or perhaps even simply likes to lie in awkward places, there is a risk of injury to their human family. Ensuring your dog is well trained can dramatically reduce the risk of physical injury.

 

However, even with those risks listed above, the health benefits of owning a dog greatly outweigh the risks.

Everyday items that may be potential dog risks.
Being aware of potential dog risks

 

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