What are some threats to dogs? Expert Advice

There are an estimated one billion domestic dogs worldwide and their conditions range from feral and free-ranging to entirely dependent on humans.

They may be our “best friends” but dogs have also emerged as a major threat to wildlife.

There is no definitive figure for feral and free-ranging dogs, but conservationists say their number is definitely rising.

In a recent study carried out on dogs in Chile, the authors said: “Conservationists in Chile and elsewhere see urgency in controlling the impact of free-ranging dogs on wildlife.”

“Predation and harassment by dogs has been documented for the majority of larger terrestrial mammals that inhabit Chile, including the three species of canids (mammals from the dog family) and three species of deer,” Eduardo Silva-Rodriguez, one of the authors of the study, told the BBC.

Canine influenza (“canine flu” or “dog flu”)

Dogs can be shedding the virus before they even show signs of illness, which means an apparently healthy dog can still infect other dogs. Dogs with canine influenza develop coughing, a fever and a snotty nose, which are the same signs observed when a dog has kennel cough.

There is a vaccine for canine influenza, but at this time it is not recommended for every dog. Consult your veterinarian to determine if the canine influenza vaccine is recommended for your dog.

Fortunately, there is a vaccine for parvo. It is considered a “core” vaccine and is recommended for every dog.

Injuries Any time unfamiliar dogs and/or dogs with different temperaments are mixed, there is a risk of conflict and injury. Bite wounds should be immediately evaluated by a veterinarian and efforts should be made to determine the rabies vaccination status of the biting dog. Overweight dogs and dogs accustomed to more sedentary lifestyles should be encouraged to become more active, but excessive activity can put them at risk of injury to joints, bones or muscles. If your dog is overweight and/or you plan to increase its activity level, consult with your veterinarian about the best plan to get your dog active with the least risk of injury.

These worms can cause malnutrition (because they steal nutrients as food is being digested) and diarrhea, and hookworms can cause blood loss. There are many products available to treat worms, and you should consult their veterinarian for the appropriate products for your pets.

Coccidia and Giardia are single-celled parasites that damage the lining of the intestine. Dogs can become infected with coccidia by eating infected soil or licking contaminated paws or fur. Puppies are at the highest risk of infection and illness.

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Your dog needs a safe environment and, whether it lives inside or outside the house, it needs protection from dangers in the home.

Dogs are naturally inquisitive and a dog may put itself in danger if it is left to explore unsupervised.

Your dog needs a safe, comfortable place to rest, situated in a dry, draught-free area. Living in a cold or damp place can lead to unnecessary suffering. If your dog lives outside, it will need protection from adverse weather or other threats.

All dogs must be able to avoid things that frighten them and need a place to hide where they feel safe.

A dog is by nature unlikely to soil its living area and needs regular opportunities to use a toilet area, or it will become distressed. Some dogs may need access to a toilet area more often, for example:

Dogs are particularly vulnerable to heat stress which can quickly become serious and result in death. In hot weather they rapidly become distressed when enclosed in areas such as conservatories, cars and small kennels.

If your dog is kept in a kennel, or tethered, you should check it often and make sure its not in danger or distressed. Dogs should not be kept tethered permanently or for long periods and it is recommended that they should be given the opportunity to run free.

Your dog must be able to move around comfortably and be able to avoid becoming too hot or too cold. Dogs showing signs of heat stress need immediate medical treatment, so contact your vet without delay.

When you transport your dog make sure it is comfortable and safe at all times, and do not leave your dog unattended in an unsafe environment, or for any period of time that is likely to cause it distress.