Things You Didn't Know Were Harmful To Your Dog: Never Do Them Again!
Dogs sticking their heads out the car window. Feeding them leftover dinner scraps. These, along with many other common practices, are actually very harmful to your dog.
October 10th, 2018
We’ve all seen this image a million times.
All dogs seem to love sticking their heads out the car window. Their faces tell the whole story: it’s as if nothing in the world makes them happier.
You look around and everyone seems to let their dog do it. Fur flying freely, tongues flapping wildly against the wind, making onlookers jealous of how good a time the dog is having.
I didn’t know it before reading about it in another article, but what seems like a fun activity actually could put your pup at serious risk.
In fact, this along with many other common practices you thought were harmless are actually very detrimental to your dog.
Here is a list of things you should never do to your beloved dog!
1. Let your dog stick his head out your car window.
Dog seem to enjoy it so much, so why is it harmful?
Well, there are multiple reasons you have a windshield on your car. So you don’t need goggles just keep your eyes open on the freeway. So nothing flies into your nose. So you don’t accidentally eat bugs.
It’s the same situation for a dog. Dirt, small rocks, and other flying debris in the air can get into your dog’s fur, mouth, and worst of all, eyes. If a windshield can puncture due to the impact of a small stone while you’re on the highway, just imagine what it could do to damage your dog’s fragile eye.
In addition to that, many dogs could severely harm their ears. The wind can cause their ears to flap against their skulls and cause trauma to the ear.
Finally, if you haven’t noticed it yet, your dog is much more easily distracted outdoors with all the new sights and sounds. If your dog sees something that stimulates him, nothing is stopping him from leaping out your window.
Even if your dog is pretty well-behaved, a sudden swerve could put your dog off-balance and get thrown out of the car.
Drive safe, keep your windows rolled up, and make sure your pup is secure.
2. Leave your dog in the car alone.
Another one you see a lot of. This one is pretty hard to avoid if you’re a dog owner because you sure want to take your pup everywhere! Unfortunately public places aren’t as dog-friendly as you are…
Just 15 minutes, you tell Fido! Just a quick run into the supermarket to grab a jar of delicious peanut butter and you’ll be right out. Wait just a moment…
There are just so many things wrong with this it’s hard to justify even if you’ll be gone two minutes.
The first thing to note is how quickly a car heats up. Even if the area you live in isn’t considered hot, parking outdoors quickly turns your car into a mini-oven, even if you found a nice shady spot. Dogs have fur coats. If being stuck in a mini-oven makes you uncomfortable, you can bet it’ll be much worse for a dog.
Overheating in dogs can be catalysts for life-threatening symptoms such as heat stroke and cardiac arrest.
Maybe you roll down the windows for some fresh, cool air. But that’s also a disaster waiting to happen. Cars get broken into… when the windows are shut. Now with your precious dog in there, window defense gone, who’s to say someone won’t come along and just take your pup?
Bottom line is, if you know your dog isn’t allowed at your destination, you’re better off leaving him safe at home.
3. Tend to your dog whenever they whine or bark.
Dogs will use all sorts of ways to get your attention, even when you may not be able to tend to them at that moment.
Sometimes you’re working, cooking, on the phone, busy, or just trying to get some sleep. Then comes the whining.
If somethings not immediately wrong with your dog, you’re going to have to learn to ignore them, or discipline them if they start barking too loud. No matter how good a poor puppy dog face they put on.
Just as reinforcing good behavior with attention and treats, giving attention where it is not deserved can cause your dog to link whining and barking with receiving a reward. This is the last thing you want. (Dog won’t stop whining? Check out these tips.)
Again, you should pay attention to signs that your dog is distressed. If you’ve been giving them a lack of attention, it’s on you to make sure you spend enough quality time with them. But if your dog isn’t satisfied with ever-increasing amounts of affection, you’ll have to turn a blind eye to his whining.
4. Allow your dog to forget basic manners in public areas.
This one appears obvious, but there are multiple scenarios where you’ll have to keep a closer watch on your dog.
Dog parks. If you live in a high dog-density area like Seattle, chances are there are ample dog parks around for canine socialization.
While this sounds great, remember that many times, the problems that come up in dog parks are not always due to the dogs, but the humans.
You should always keep a watchful eye on your dog at a dog park, making sure they don’t get into violent scuffles with other dogs. If your dog likes playing rough, only you will likely know where the line is between playing and fighting. Stepping in before any escalation is your duty.
Also, be sure your dog doesn’t jump on other humans if they are not willing. Not everybody is a dog person.
Finally, through the bustling streets of a city during rush hour, make sure your dog is heeled close to you. Letting them stray too far away or letting them rush from side to side sniffing every last stop sign and fire hydrant is not just annoying to keep up with, but someone could step on your dog and severely injure them.
5. Feed scraps and leftovers.
A number of human foods are extremely toxic to dogs. The list runs on and on; some of the most common foods that you should definitely keep your dog away from are raisins (grapes), chocolate, macadamia nuts, and excessive salt. The Animal Poison Control lists a lot more.
Salt pretty much eliminates most human foods. Whereas we consume sodium with most of our food, salt is a particularly strong flavor for your dog.
Too much salt can cause dehydration, and if serious, could cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Even if the food is entirely safe for your pup, giving them too much human food will encourage misbehavior over time. While you should spoil your dog with love and affection, spoiling their taste buds is a no-go. You don’t want them to stop eating their regular food.
Moreover, feeding too many foreign foods will likeIy cause stomach upset. So think about the next time you have to pick up your dog’s business…
6. Keep them chained or cooped up for long periods of time.
During puppyhood, crate training and keeping your puppy leashed to you at all times, even when in the house, can help teach them boundaries and accelerate the housebreaking process.
However, you need to reconsider your actions if you’re leaving your dog chained to a four foot leash hour after hour.
Dogs are wild creatures. Many of them are very active. They aren’t meant to be kept confined or restrained for long periods of time. They are naturally curious and seek interaction with the world around them.
It’s possible that your dog develops anxiety if they don’t get enough time off-confinement, and you’ll have to deal with a lot more whining than you should.
You definitely do not want to lock them in their crate as a form of punishment either. For many dogs, a crate is a safe haven they call home. Never poison that association with something negative.
7. Pull excessively on your dog’s neck.
This one will largely depend on your dog.
If your dog has yet to learn proper walking etiquette, or is just a rambunctious one in general, you’ll want to be wary of pulling on his collar all the time.
Yuna likes to dash after every dog she can meet. When she was still on her collar, I felt that restraining her was desensitizing her neck. She let out squeaks and gasps whenever I held her back (and she didn’t stop pulling and choking herself). I instantly switched to a harness and started teaching better walking behavior.
Moreover, repeated pulling could potentially injure their spine as well.
Just stop the pulling in general. Dogs in general walk faster than we do, so some pulling is natural. Suddenly jerking your dog, whether he is on leash or collar, You are better off patiently training your dog to walk properly, and to use a harness if you think you’re hurting your dog with just a collar.
8. Neglect your dog’s skin, paws, teeth, or general health.
You should always periodically monitor your dog’s skin and paws.
When I adopted Yuna, she came over to Seattle, which has a drier climate than her old home Korea. We noticed her skin had a couple of dry patches, and there were some small cracks on her paws as well.
We were told to buy pet balm for Yuna to moisturize her skin.
Sometimes these things may be hard to catch if you aren’t looking. You’re better off noticing a small problem early than finding out when it’s too late!
The same goes for your pup’s teeth. A full dental clean at the vet is recommended once or twice yearly, but they are highly expensive. You don’t want to be going in for more dental checkups than you should.
This means keeping a close watch on those pearly whites. Get them into a habit of consuming healthy dental treats (they’ll love more food anyway!), and try to get them to accept brushing their teeth as well. Tartar buildup in dogs is just as bad for them as it is for humans.
It may sound like common sense, but many people miss the little things when it comes to their dog’s health. They may not give their dogs enough exercise, or misfeed them.
I personally am guilty of being lazy to brush Yuna’s teeth most days… but least I’ll toss her some dental treats. I’ll be working on implementing brushing into her schedule.
9. Not giving your dog enough time to just be a canine.
Some people are very deliberate and consistent in their training, and this is very admirable of a dog owner. The best trained dogs and strongest bonds are formed with effort and persistence.
Training time should not be all the time though! Monitoring your pup strictly during training is great, but you should leave abundant time for your dog to express their canine instincts too.
Some dog owners forget that dogs are in fact dogs. They sneer when their dog gets a little too playful in the grass. They’ll try to prevent their dog from sniffing around all the time, suppressing their natural curiosity. They don’t play fetch nearly as much as their dogs desire.
And maybe that’s all fine. If it suits both your lifestyles, and both of you remain happy with that, then there’s no reason to change.
But I’d argue you got a dog in the first place to add some color to your life. If all you do is train, train, train and rarely sit back to enjoy a genuine moment with your dog, all you’ve added to your schedule is another burden!
Dogs need an outlet for their high-energy nature. Hindering too much of that part of their development is just not right for your dog.
Let them startle you with their canine surprises. They follow you around all your daily activities. Gain some insight into theirs! You’re almost guaranteed to laugh a ton along the way.
Be sure to check out other resources on this topic! Here are some that I consulted in compiling such a list.
Don’t forget to check out Yuna’s Instagram as well for daily pictures!