As we enjoy warmer weather, people are more inclined to enjoy the outdoors with their dogs and this often brings us closer to wildlife and to farm animals and other potential hazards.
Be familiar with where you are walking before unleashing your dog. Know where there may be steep drop offs or fast-moving water.
Before hiking in an area where you may encounter wildlife or farm animals, make sure that your dog is either leashed or trained to such a degree that he or she will always respond to your cues.
Studies show that one of the top five most common human behaviors occurring at the time of an attack by a wild animal is walking an unleashed dog.
Farm animals are often quickly stressed by the presence of unfamiliar dogs. A University of Liverpool study reviewed details of 54 reported attacks by cattle on members of the public out walking. Two thirds of the attacks involved dogs that were not necessarily actively bothering the attacking cow.
Carry fresh water with you for your dog. Diseases like leptospirosis are transferred through drinking from infected water sources like ponds. Prolonged exposure to water containing the virus increases the risk of transmission through swallowing, contact with mucous membranes or through an open sore. Dogs that walk in areas frequented by wildlife are at increased risk of this disease.
Giardia is picked up from drinking water from water sources where giardia may live (for example, untreated water from lakes, streams, or wells) or by swallowing water while swimming in lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, and streams.
Check your dog for ticks after being in an area where there may be ticks and talk to your vet about tick and flea prevention. Lyme disease is spread through the bite of infected ticks especially in the spring and fall when ticks are seeking hosts so check your dog (and yourself) for ticks.
Enjoy the outdoors but be safe out there, and respect wild and domestic animals. Make sure that your dog is either leashed or trained to such a degree that he won’t create a risk to himself or others.