Outdoor Dog Safety – 5 Threats

Your dog will spend time outdoors every day. So what steps can you take to enhance outdoor dog safety?

This article looks at 5 threats your dog faces from the outdoor world. Knowing about these threats will help you keep your dog safe when you go out.

The good news is it only takes a bit of action on your part to minimize these threats and help your dog enjoy being outside.

Let’s dive right in.

Threat 1 – Fleas

I’m sure every pet owner knows about fleas and has had to deal with them.

Fleas are more than irritating bites. What’s not widely known is that fleas can pose a serious threat to your dog’s health.

Here are some of the serious problems caused by fleas:

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Your dog may be allergic to flea saliva. Your dog breaks out in welts with skin irritation. Then your dog licks and chews at the welts, which only makes things worse. So your dog gets into a vicious cycle of pain and chewing that you must stop before it causes serious problems.


When your dog grooms herself, she may actually swallow a flea. That flea may be a carrier of the tapeworm parasite. The tapeworm will then attach to the dog’s intestines.

Your dog may have tapeworms if you see these symptoms:

  • weight loss
  • lack of appetite
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • irritated rectum
  • nervousness

Flea Bite Anemia

Fleas feed on your dog’s blood. Therefore, if the flea infestation is severe or your dog is small (such as a puppy), your dog could suffer from flea bite anemia.

Flea bite anemia can at times be fatal.

Other Diseases

Fleas can also carry mites that can infect you or your dog with several diseases.

As if that’s not enough, fleas can also carry bubonic plague and murine typhus.

How Your Dog Meets Fleas

Your dog can come into contact with fleas both indoors and outdoors.

Fleas can sense the presence of humans and animals by feeling vibrations.

The flea has long legs that allow it jump from the ground or carpet onto a host.

Prevention and Cure

You need a two-pronged approach to control and get rid of fleas. You must treat your dog and your home.

A good first step is to bathe your dog with an anti-flea shampoo. Also comb your dog to remove as many fleas as possible.

Your dog may be treated with various insecticides such as Frontline or Spot-On, powders, or cedar oil.

If you have cats in your home, it’s important to chose a treatment for your dog that is not dangerous to cats.

You can eliminate fleas in your home by using a combination of vacuuming, bathing your dog, and using insecticides. Also, be sure to have a flea comb handy.

You need to be sure to carefully clean your dog’s bed and other places where he spends time.

It may also be necessary to spay your yard to eliminate a flea infestation.

Threat 2 – Ticks

Besides biting your dog and sucking his blood, ticks can also transmit several diseases to dogs and people.

Here are some of the serious diseases caused by ticks:


This is a bacterial infection that can affect both people and dogs.

Your dog may display these symptoms when she has ehrlichia:

  • fever
  • epilepsy
  • lack of coordination
  • anemia
  • lethargy
  • bleeding

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

This disease is most common in the spring and summer. Though it was first identified in the Rocky Mountains, it is now found in all 50 states and parts of Canada.

Lyme Disease

The deer tick is responsible for transmitting Lyme disease. Lyme disease can cause:

  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • fever
  • lethargy
  • arthritis

How Your Dog Gets Ticks

It’s well known that ticks are prevalent in wooded areas.

But, they can also be found in grassy areas and even in your backyard. You can minimize the presence of ticks in your yard by pruning your plants and not letting the grass grow too tall.

Prevention and Cure

If you are going into an area known to be infested with ticks, button your clothing, tuck in your shirt, and tuck your trousers into your boots.

You may also want to apply a tick repellent to your clothing and skin.

Once you leave the tick area, as soon as possible you’ll want to check yourself and your dog for ticks.

You can carefully remove ticks with tweezers. Grasp the tick right at the place where it’s mouth enters the skin. Then pull straight out.

There are also a number of specialized tick removal tools on the market.

If any of the ticks mouth parts remain in the skin, they may cause an infection.

There are various insecticides that you can apply indoors and outdoors to kill ticks.

None of these insecticides are 100% effective so don’t forget to check your dog daily for ticks.

Threat 3 – Mosquitoes and Heartworms

Heartworms are a species of roundworms that are transmitted by mosquito bites.

There is no other way for a dog to get heartworms.

Infected mosquitoes can be found in all 50 states, warmer parts of Canada, and many other countries around the world.

It’s not possible to tell if a mosquito is infected. That means we really have to assume all mosquitoes are heartworm carriers.

Once a dog is infected, the adult worms may be found in the heart, lungs, and nearby blood vessels.

Heartworm Prevention

Fortunately, heartworm prevention is easy and relatively inexpensive.

The current prevention options are pills (taken monthly) and topical ointments (applied monthly). It’s also possible to give your dog an injection that is good for six months.

Talk to your vet about the best prevention method for your dog.

Threat 4 – Burrs

I’m using the word burr in a general sense to mean any thorn or seed pod with sharp points that can become tangled in your dog’s fur.

dog outdoor safety tips

Here are some of the different types of thorns

  • burrs
  • beggar’s lice burrs
  • cockleburs
  • sandspurs
  • foxtail, also called speargrass

Fortunately, some of these burrs are soft and you can be easily remove them by hand.

Others are hard and quite sharp. You may need to wear gloves when you try to get them out.

Sometimes a burr is super tangled in your dog’s fur.

Try this trick: crush it with a pair of pliers. That will break it into pieces that you can remove by hand or with a comb.

Be sure to carefully check your dog’s coat after a walk through grasses. Don’t forget to check the ears and paws.

Foxtails can be particularly nasty. Because of their shape with small barbs, they keep moving deeper and deeper into your dog’s hide. Ouch!

About the only way to prevent your dog from collecting burrs or foxtails is to keep him out of wild grasses and overgrown areas.

Threat 5 – Heat and Heat Stroke

Dogs release body heat by panting and sweating through their nose and foot pads. In other words, our doggy friends don’t have a lot of sweat glands.

Any mammal is in danger of overheating which can lead to heat stroke and even death.

It’s your job to help your dog not overheat.

Preventing Overheating

How sensitive your pet is to heat will depend upon its breed and weight.

Breeds with short noses such as bulldogs and pugs tend to be more sensitive to heat. And overweight dogs may also be heat sensitive.

Follow these 3 simple rules to help you dog stay safe in the heat:

  • Make sure your dog always has access to cool drinking water.
  • On hot days don’t do vigorous exercise. Try to stay in shady areas.
  • Don’t leave your dog alone in a car. Even with some windows open, the car can become dangerously hot very quickly.

During the summer it would be a good idea to take you dog for walks early in the morning or after sunset.

If you’re going on a hike with your dog, make it an easy one and carry plenty of water for him to drink. There are now handy dog water bottles that include a bowl.

Signs of Overheating

Look for these signs that your dog may be overheating:

  • heavy panting
  • rapid breathing
  • salivating
  • fatigue
  • staggering
  • muscle tremors

If you see any of these signs, immediately get your dog out of the sun. Move to a place that’s cool and shady.

If you can, apply wet towels to his foot pads to help him cool down.

Allow your dog to drink cool water, if he wants, but don’t force him to drink.

Call your vet.

Outdoor Dog Safety – Conclusion

This article has examined 5 reasons why your dog may not love being outside.

An important part of outdoor dog safety is keeping your pet safe while traveling. Be sure to check out our traveling tips here.

You as a responsible pet owner can do a lot to make going outdoors easier on your doggy friend.