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Home SAFETY TIPS & ADVICE 10 risky behaviours to stop dogs doing

10 risky behaviours to stop dogs doing

by Bella Woof

We take care of animals because we want the best for them…this can sometimes mean restricting them from doing what they want (for their own good).

The more educated we are on pets and what impacts their overall health & well-being, the better care we can take of them. Read on for 10 things that you might not know are risky for dogs and why you should stop them!

dogs sunbaking
#1 Sunbaking

Just like humans, dogs are at risk of skin cancer. Unnecessary or excess amounts of sun exposure increase their risk. Doggy sunscreen exists and is great to put on your dog’s nose/snout area to reduce the risk of sunburn and unhealthy sun exposure. 

Dogs regulate their temperature differently than humans and have different sweat glands, which are much less effective at cooling them down. They have two types of sweat glands and the ones in their paws are the most effective for cooling but not enough to properly regulate their temperature when exposed to extreme heat. 

As well as not having the ability to keep themselves cool, dogs don’t understand that lying in the sun and getting too hot is dangerous. This means they won’t always move out of the sun before overheating. Overheating is the biggest risk of sun baking for dogs, especially flat-faced breeds who have breathing problems. Overheating can also cause death in dogs – each dog will have a different threshold based on size, health etc but once heatstroke sets in, irreparable damage can occur. In severe cases, it can cause seizures, brain damage, organ failure, and death. 

How do you know how to spot and treat heat stroke in dogs? Excess panting, hot to touch, red gums, lethargy, excess drooling, loss of coordination, and seizures. If you’re concerned a dog is overheating, ensure you get them out of the heat as quickly as possible! Take them inside to a cool place, slowly cooling their body back down with cool wet towels and small amounts of water. If you’re unsure or concerned, take them straight to the vet. 

playing with hose#2 Playing with the hose

A very common summer game with dogs is chasing the hose. However, this can be extremely dangerous for dogs as it can cause secondary drowning. Secondary drowning can occur from minutes to days after the event. It occurs because the dog inhales water which goes into the lungs and inhibits their ability to breathe. This can also happen if a dog swims too much or swims to the point of exhaustion and accidentally inhales too much water. The likelihood of inhaling water is increased by the energy of the activity. Jumping and running around means the dog is likely panting with a wide open mouth. 

A great alternative is to have a small kiddy or shell pool filled with a few centimetres of water to avoid inhaling water or drawing. Dogs should never be left swimming or near water unsupervised. The time that it takes for exhaustion to kick in and cause them to drown can be minutes. Giving your dog a good soak with the hose is also a great option if you don’t have space. 

walking with only a collar

#3 Walking with only a collar 

This is a good rule of thumb, but not as important for all types of breeds and ages. The two main risks from walking only on a collar (and not a harness) are choking or damage and the risk of slipping out. 

If a dog is pulling whilst walking with a collar on, it can cause whiplash as well as issues to their oesophagus, trachea, lymph nodes, and thyroid gland, and worsen symptoms for brachycephalic dogs. It’s unlikely the damage of one walk will cause severe issues but consistent damage on daily walks can cause serious issues like tracheal collapse, breathing issues, and swallowing problems. These risks are only when a dog is pulling on the collar, not from wearing a collar with no tension on it. 

Secondly, slipping out of collars is very common. Often even if a collar is fitted properly, a dog’s head and throat can be the same size which means if they pull hard enough they can slip out. Even the best-behaved dogs have this risk – if they get scared or decide to chase after a bush turkey they could slip out and run across the road or run off.

Take a read of this article from our friends at Pet Chemist to get the lowdown on dog walking essentials & accessories.

destroying toys unsupervised#4 Destroying toys unsupervised

The risk of leaving dogs unsupervised with toys is that they will consume part of the toy. They don’t always intentionally swallow part of the toy, but intentional or not it poses a risk for choking or an intestinal blockage or damage.

Big parts of the toy like eyes, squeakers or balls of fluff can easily get caught in a dog’s throat and cause them to choke. If a dog manages to swallow any of the parts, it can cause a blockage which can lead to death. An intestinal blockage in dogs can cause vomiting, their stomach to twist and other serious complications. The other risk is a rupture or damage to their insides. For example, a squeaker could scrape or rip their stomach lining which can lead to death, especially if left untreated. 

If you suspect a dog has swallowed a component or a whole toy visit a vet immediately. They will be able to determine if and what the pet has swallowed and take appropriate measures.

eating poop#5 Eating poop

Why do dogs eat their own poop? A question for the ages!

A gross but common behaviour for dogs is eating poop! Whether it’s their own, a random one on a walk or the possum poo in the yard, they’ve all done it at one point. This risks them ingesting parasites and germs they wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to. 

If a dog is consistently eating poop it can be a sign of stress, hunger, fear or just because they like to do it. It’s best to consult a vet if the behaviour is consistent.

chasing wildlife#6 Chasing wildlife

Chasing wildlife is a double-edged sword, posing risks for the dog and the wildlife. As dog guardians, it’s your responsibility to ensure the dog doesn’t put wildlife at risk. If a dog gets hold of a possum, a bird or another small animal it’s often going to result in the death of that animal. 

As well as the immense risk to the wildlife, it risks injury to the dog from scratches, bites and germs. If a dog gets into a tussle with a possum, bird or similar their desperate scratch attempts or claws can cause deep wounds prone to infection, damage or loss of eye and more.

The habit of chasing wildlife also increases the likelihood of risky behaviours like running across the road or jumping fences and escaping. 

jumping off furniture#7 Jumping off furniture

It’s no question that we all love a snuggle on the couch or bed with the pups but letting them jump up and down onto or off furniture can be very dangerous. For breeds prone to issues – Dachshunds and back injuries, golden retrievers and hip dysplasia, dogs with previous injuries like a luxating patella (knee dislocation), or older dogs with or prone to arthritis – it’s crucial to minimise impact to their bones and joints. 

Jumping on and off furniture can be a daily occurrence so the damage builds over time. For higher-risk breeds, even one jump can cause serious injury. The damage occurs through the shock of the jump where the joints and muscles bear the impact. The bigger the difference in the ratio of size to pet and size to jump the more dangerous it is. Ie; jumping off a couch is much more dangerous for Dachshunds than a Great Dane. 

To minimise the risk you can introduce pet steps into your house and teach the dogs how to use them.

chewing sticks#8 Chewing on sticks

Chewing on sticks poses 4 main risks:

  • Splintering in the mouth and causing infection or irritation 
  • Breaking and lodging in areas like the roof of the mouth 
  • Breaking and causing choking 
  • Being swallowed and causing damage 

The chewing will inevitably cause the stick to break and splinter so the risk is not easily mitigated. The best way to prevent these risks is to not let dogs chew sticks. Give them something pet-friendly that’s intended for their teeth!

over#9 Over-exercising

Over-exercising is hard to set parameters for when it comes to dogs. A Border Collie is going to have a vastly different threshold to a French Bulldog, for example. Not a common issue, but are you exercising your dog too much? Over-exercising can often lead to overheating. Over-exercising can also lead to muscle fatigue, dehydration, and joint issues. 

It’s pretty manageable to set limitations on exercise for pets, as long as they’re not running 8+ hours a day they’re not risking fatal limits. It’s important to understand the exercise needs of the individual dog and cater to this. Sometimes a 20-minute walk is enough and sometimes a 10km run isn’t enough!

eating random items#10 Eating grass or random items

Eating grass is not harmful to dogs on its own. However, eating grass out on walks means the dog could be ingesting pesticides, baiting, food scraps, and bees. Unless you know that there are no chemicals or uncertain foods in the grass it’s important to stop the dog from eating it. 

The same logic applies to random items out in public. There are all kinds of scraps around. Unfortunately, people leave bait and traps for dogs that contain poison and can quickly become fatal so it’s crucial to avoid the dog picking up high-risk bait scraps like raw meat, dog food etc. Similarly, scraps on the ground can be harmful – it could be a piece of chocolate or other toxic substances that a toddler unknowingly dropped.



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