5 Dangers to Outdoor Dogs
The question of whether your dog should be an “indoor” or “outdoor” dog may never occur to you if you live in the city. That question is usually reserved for cat owners (inappropriately, however, as all cats should really be “indoor cats”). If you live on the fringes of town though or out in the country, you may have felt the temptation to let your dog “run free” outside the boundaries of your property. Outdoor dogs are very common in some rural locations, as well as the edges of cities and towns. Should dogs really be allowed to roam, though? Here are 5 really good reasons to keep your pooch at home, even if you do live out in the middle of nowhere.
Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors, especially running around in the woods and other untamed environments, may be exposed to diseases that they would be unlikely to catch if they stayed on your property. For example, blastomycosis is a fungal disease which outdoor dogs frequently contract, and which is far less common for indoor dogs. Other diseases are spread by wild animals such as raccoons, and sometimes by other outdoor dogs. One example is leptospirosis, a bacterial disease which may affect outdoor dogs in rural locations where carriers are common. This disease can be deadly, and even if your dog recovers, he may spend days at the vet first.
Parasites are common problems for dogs in the suburbs and even in the cities, and can be picked up even more regularly by those that live in rural areas. These include ticks (which can also carry disease), fleas, mites, intestinal worms, and more. Letting your dog run around outside all day, especially in wooded areas and areas with high brush and grass, can greatly increase the number of parasites she picks up. Parasites pose a health risk both to your dog and to the human members of your household.
On that note, plants can also pose health concerns for your pet. Toxic plants as well as plants with thorns can cause problems for your dog, just as they can for you. As a dog owner, you want to make sure you keep these plants out of your yard, and keep your dog out of places where they grow. Other toxins are left by humans, such as antifreeze.
3. Other animals
Another danger to an unsupervised dog is other animals. This may include other dogs that are “running free” as well as cats. Dogs are prone to picking fights, with domesticated as well as wild animals. Even if your pet emerges the victor, it may not be without extensive injuries. Not only that, but letting your dog run around without you puts other animals in danger. And who wants to be responsible for that? There is nothing worse than discovering the neighbor’s dog or cat has been killed by another animal, and then seeing your own pet come home bloodied after an obvious tussle.
Animals do not necessarily know that they need to avoid wandering out in the road. They do not instinctively avoid it like we do. Think about it; even a small child has to be told again and again that the road is dangerous, and that cars can zoom up out of nowhere. A small child is smarter than your dog; your dog is not going to stay off the road if you are not there to supervise. All it takes is one driver who is slow, stupid, or simply careless. This is a terrible way to lose a beloved pet.
The worst way you can ever lose a pet is to animal cruelty. While a lot of people love animals, others do not, and in fact are malicious toward them. When they see a dog running near their property or across it, they may simply shoot it out of hand. Or they may choose to capture the dog and maim her. Animal cruelty can cause permanent harm to your pet even if she escapes. The only want to protect your dog from cruel human beings is to keep her safely within your sight at all times.
You are responsible for keeping your dog safe at all times—that is part of your job as a pet owner. When you let your pet “run free” outdoors without your supervision, you are unable to supervise, which means that you are not taking responsibility. If your dog gets sick, injured, or dies outdoors, it still is your fault—for giving up your responsibility. Dogs are domesticated, indoor animals, and want to be safe with their masters at home. So keep your dog indoors or in your yard, and when you go out with your dog, use a dog leash collar set, and consider a dog coat or jacket on cold days. Cute dog toys can help your dog stay entertained at home.