Taking your dog for a daily walk—whether it’s a hike in the woods or through your neighborhood—is an absolute must for her well-being, and is a great way to bond with your pet. It’s also an incredibly important way for your canine to do what he does best: experience the world through his sense of smell. However, there are some important things to consider when out walking with your pooch:

  • Be aware of unleashed dogs and have a plan of action in place if there’s an encounter with an aggressive dog. Stay calm and pick up your animal, if possible; spray bear repellent on the street in front of the aggressor or make noise with an object (e.g. trash can).
  • Keep your pet away from garbage, which could contain over-the-counter or prescription drugs, chicken bones, broken glass, and foods/candy containing Xylitol—a sugar substitute that is toxic to dogs and can cause liver failure.
  • Avoid standing water, which often contains germs or parasites that may make your dog very sick. Prevent them from drinking from streams, rivers, and creeks that can be dangerous. Blue-green algae found in ponds is highly toxic to dogs.
  • Be careful with lawns or grassy areas that may be treated with pesticides or even rodenticides—used to exterminate rats—that can cause internal bleeding in dogs.
  • Be careful what flowers/plants your dog eats. Some are common and outdoor plants, such as azaleas, daffodils, buttercups, and others. To err on the side of caution, it’s always best to prevent your dog from eating any plants.

If you notice any signs of unexplained lethargy, vomiting, bloody urine or other unusual symptoms in your dog, immediately take her to your veterinarian or closest animal hospital.