3 Not-So-Harmless Outdoor Activites and How to Prevent Your Dog From Getting Sick from Them
With warm, long summer days and cooped up COVID mentalities, the world seems to be spending as much time outside as possible. Hooray! That means more time for our pups to exercise, spend quality time with us and just dog-around outdoors. More outside time brings with it more exposure to some of nature’s not-so-fine things. And while the benefits of being outside certainly outweigh the risks, it’s important to be an educated PET parent about the unseen dangers that could be lurking in the dirt. Most things in the yard or on the trail are completely harmless to your dog but some things can leave your dog with some uncomfortable side effects. Read on to learn about what your dog might be getting into outside and how to prevent them from getting sick from it.
Ticks in the Grass
Everyone knows that grass and dirt are filled with creepy crawlies and of course, our dogs love to roll and play amongst them. Unfortunately, some of those crawling bugs aren’t completely harmless. Ticks can carry diseases like Lyme that infect animals and humans and can cause seriously painful and permanently damaging side effects.
Lyme is caused by a bacterium that is transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. Ticks range in size and can even be smaller than a poppy seed! Finding ticks can be difficult and preventing them from jumping onto your pet is even harder. If infected with Lyme, symptoms in both humans and dogs include swollen and painful joints, fever, reduced appetite and overall discomfort. If left untreated, Lyme can spread and cause kidney failure as well as have negative neurological and cardiac effects.
The best way to prevent your dog from contracting Lyme is to use a monthly preventative treatment like Credelio. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the safety information before starting treatment.
If your dog shows symptoms of Lyme disease, contact your vet and they will test your dog’s blood for Lyme and treat accordingly.
Need help finding ticks on your dog? Check out our article Tick Check 101 to learn more.
We’ve all seen it, a thirsty dog drinking from a muddy puddle. In most cases, your dog will be fine after drinking from some stagnant water but, there are potential dangers lurking under the surface that can lead to serious health complications for your pet.
The microscopic parasite Giardia lives in the gut of an infected animal or human and is passed through feces. When a non-infected animal drinks from water that has been contaminated by an infected animal’s feces, the non-infected animal can become infected with giardia. Contaminated water shows no obvious signs of contamination making giardiasis a very easily contracted disease. The symptoms of giardiasis include diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and loss of appetite. Dogs can easily pass giardia to other dogs and cats in your home and while it is possible for your dog to pass giardia to you, it is very highly unlikely that the type of giardia your pet has will be the type that typically infects humans.
The easiest and most effective way to prevent giardia from infecting your dog is to always carry enough clean drinking water to share with your pup and to discourage them from drinking from puddles. If your dog has been drinking from muddy puddles and is showing symptoms of giardiasis, contact your vet. They will be able to confirm a diagnosis from a stool sample and treat your pet with medication to eradicate the giardia from their gut.
Pee in the Wood Pile
Sniff a little here, sniff a little there, paw some dirt, take a lick, sniff some more – dogs being dogs! Our dogs are always nosing around in the dirt and grass and that’s ok! It’s important to let our pups be themselves and follow their natural instincts. But, it’s equally as important to keep an eye on what they’re up to out in the yard so you can keep them away from potentially dangerous situations.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection spread through the urine of infected animals. Rodents, deer, pigs and cattle are the most likely animals to spread lepto. Wood piles and piles of junk in the yard or in the woods are major attractions for rodents because they make great homes and hiding places. Unfortunately, rodents don’t follow the old adage “don’t pee where you eat” and tend to urinate all over wood piles. Your dog can contract lepto at any time of the year and from contaminated water, soil or direct contact with infected urine. They are more likely to contract it in the warmer, rainier months. As rain levels increase, so does the risk for lepto which means letting your dog drink from muddy puddles and other standing water also puts them at risk for lepto contraction.
If your dog contracts leptospirosis, the symptoms include “decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination (due to effects on the kidneys), yellowing of the skin (due to the effects on the liver), and potentially death.” – Great Pet Care
There is an annual, preventative vaccine that works against 4 strains of lepto. Talk to your vet about adding it to your dog’s yearly checkup and vaccination routine and if your dog shows signs of having contracted lepto contact your vet immediately and they will test your dog’s urine and treat accordingly.
Can't Sweat the Small Stuff
Did you know that our dog's cant sweat? They release excess heat through their tongue and paws! If you see your dogs tongue hanging out on a hot day, they're in need of some water and a cool spot to cool down.