Over the past 2 decades, our family has raised many dogs. We’ve taken in rescues, adopted puppies and provided a home for strays. These dogs have all had their own unique issues, and they’ve taught me A LOT about things you should never do with your dog.
Don’t feel bad if you do some of these things with your pet. They are all common activities that a lot of pet owners do with their pups. I’ve had bad experiences with all of these activities, or I’ve known a friend or family member that has.
These activities aren’t things that we would necessarily think of as “dangerous”, but they pose serious health risks for our dogs. If you read through this article and think that these things are perfectly fine for dogs, I promise you they are not! Just do a quick Google search, and you'll find a lot of scary photos and stories from pet owners who wish they had known this information.
8 Things You Should NEVER Do With Your Dog
1. Run with a stick in their mouth
Hundreds of dogs are treated for stick impalements every year. We don’t let children run around with lollipops in their mouths, and the same logic should be applied to your pet. If your dog trips or stumbles with a stick in his mouth, it could be a fatal accident. Likewise, if you throw a stick for your dog and one end impales into the ground, your dog runs the risk of stabbing himself with the other end.
2. Walk him on a retractable leash
When they were first introduced, these leashes seemed like a great idea. When there is open space, your dog could have extra room to walk and sniff, while always being restrained by a leash. However, pet owners and veterinarians soon realized the dangers that these products carried with them.
According to Consumer Reports, “In 2007 there were 16,564 hospital-treated injuries associated with leashes. Of those, about 10.5 percent involved children 10 and younger; 23.5 percent involved injuries to the finger.”
Dogs and humans can become tangled in these leashes. If you try to grab the lead, you can get burned or suffer a severe laceration. The leashes can also malfunction and break easily.
3. Pull on your dog’s leash
Many owners instinctively pull back on their dog’s leash when the dog pulls. They may yank on the leash when their dog tries to go in the wrong direction. If you’ve found yourself doing this, you need to stop immediately.
Dogs have hyboid bones that hold their tongue and larynx in place. Yanking on his leash could fracture or break these bones. Pulling hard on the leash could even fracture your dog’s neck.
4. Neglect your dog’s dental hygiene
Only about 2% of pet owners take care of their dog’s teeth daily. Periodontal disease is one of the most common health conditions seen by veterinarians, and it’s also one of the most preventable! Poor dental hygiene in dogs can lead to
- destruction of and loss of gum tissue and bone around the teeth
- fistulas (holes leading from the oral cavity to the nasal passage)
- osteomyelitis (bone infection)
- bacteria entering the blood stream and damaging your dog's heart, liver and/or kidneys
Many pet owners make the mistake of overfeeding their dogs. Most dogs are naturally glutinous and will eat just about anything you feed them. Many pet owners also think that feeding their dog makes them happy. While that may be true, there are lots of other ways to make your dog happy.
Overfeeding your dog will lead to obesity. Obesity is one of the biggest health concerns for pets in the United States. It’s important to keep your dog fit for his overall health and well-being. Being overweight can lead to serious health problems including diabetes, heart disease and will end up shortening your pet’s lifespan.
Pay close attention to the serving size guidelines of your dog food. Use positive reinforcement and toys to make your dog happy and reward him for good behavior. Attention and love will make your dog happier than any treat you could provide.
6. Underestimate his emotions
Dogs have feelings too. Lots of research has been done on this topic. If you yell at your dog, it will make him sad and/or scared. Dogs can get depressed when left alone a lot, when there is a change in their environment or if they lose a family member (furry or human).
Dogs can suffer from stress and anxiety. Paying attention to your dog’s emotions is extremely important. If you notice any behavior changes or you think your dog is struggling emotionally, reach out to your veterinarian and ask for a consultation.
7. Overdress your dog
Dogs wouldn’t dress up if they had the choice. Some clothing helps dogs deal with weather elements, but overdressing them can cause them to be uncomfortable, overheat or could even cause pain. Certain breeds that have thick, warm coats may not ever need to wear clothing.
Even though you think it looks cute, if your dog isn’t comfortable than you shouldn’t dress him in clothes. If you do decide clothing is a good choice for your pet, make sure to measure your pet properly and buy clothing that fits properly.
Clothing that is too loose could get wrapped around your pet’s limbs and cut off circulation or cause chaffing and lacerations. Clothing that is too tight can also cause chaffing, discomfort and restrict your pet’s range of motion.
8. Smoke around your dog
Secondhand smoke isn’t just bad for humans, it is detrimental to your dog’s health as well. In this day and age, everyone knows the dangers of smoking. If you choose to subject yourself to those dangers, that’s your choice.
If you smoke around your dog, he has no way to escape. A dog’s sense of smell is extremely strong. Your dog probably hates the smell of smoke and doesn’t want to be around it, but he doesn’t have a choice if you blow secondhand smoke around him.
Dogs exposed to secondhand smoke have more eye infections, allergies and respiratory issues than other dogs. They are also more likely to suffer from certain kinds of cancer, including lung cancer and nasal cancer.
READ NEXT: 10 Most Dangerous States for Dogs To Live In