Top tips for walking your dog in the dark

Top tips for walking your dog in the dark

The days are getting longer now but still most of us are walking our dogs in the dark… It might not be a problem if you are based in the city and have well lit roads all around you but out in the countryside winter walks aren’t as peachy as one might think.

I got caught out one morning when I decided to go for a quick walk at 6am in the pitch black… black morning, black dog… you can only imagine where I am going with this… I got scared… re-call didn’t work and Bunk was nowhere to be found… he did come back finally (after a few minutes which felt in that moment like a lifetime) but by this time the seed of fear was deeply implanted. It was time to re-think my walking in the dark routine.

So I sat down and I thought about how to improve our safety, so I read a lot, I did my research and I come across a few pointers I would like to share with you.

Walk route

Darkness is not the best time to go exploring. Pick a well known route which is familiar both for you and your dog. Walks along the side of the road are not ideal but if you don’t have any other options and this is the only walk route with lights along it – then pick it. Remember to walk against the flow of traffic and keep your dog on the side furthest from the road (i.e. your right hand side). Alternatively if you have a bit more time on your hands and have some well lit place which is away from home, then jump in the car and drive with your dog to that walking spot.

Walk routine

Keep control of your dog and do not let him/her off the lead unless you are in a well lit area. Your dog might be well trained but you never know what will happen and there is always a chance of something unpredictable happening so why be tempting fate? Unless your dog is extremely well trained avoid retractable leads. They are dangerous in daylight and can be deadly in the darkness (yes, I am not a huge fan of retractable leads and if you want to know why please read 10 Reasons Why Retractable Leashes Are Dangerous) Also if you are going to let your dog off the lead make sure you have your pockets well stocked with some yummy treats which will help you with that quick re-call if needed.

Human clothing

Walks in the dark are as much about your safety as your dog. If you are walking along the road make sure you wear something reflective. It might not be sexy but a high visibility vest is cheap and will make you stand out for all others road users. Yes, you can and should dress up your dog as well but if you are going to walk along the side of the road you are much bigger than your dog therefore much easier to see 🙂

Dog clothing + accessories

Nowadays there is a huge choice when it comes to reflective accessories for your dog. Pick something both you and your dogs are comfortable with. It might be a high visibility dog jacket or maybe just a reflective neck band; if clothing isn’t really your thing invest in a reflective collar, harness or a lead; if these choices aren’t “speaking” to you either at least get a safety light for your dog. A safety light is small and will clip onto any collar or harness. It will illuminate or flash depending on the program and it will help you easily locate your dog in the darkness.

Be cautious

Stay alert and wary of your surroundings. Listen to what is happening around you. You might follow all these tips and be ready for a walk in the darkness but you can also be sure that someone else might not be so well organized. Don’t be scared! If you are scared your dog will feel it and you really don’t want to be projecting fear into your companion.

Other Equipment

First of all take a torch with you. I use a small LED head torch. The batteries last what seems like forever, it gives a really great bright light and most importantly of all it still allows me to have both my hands free.
Secondly take a phone with you. I bet most of us don’t go far without the phone but walking in the darkness is for sure not the time to forget it. You never know how the walk will end and you might need it to call for assistance.
Third – don’t go wondering in the darkness without anyone knowing you went out. Again you might not think it’s that big a deal in the city but there are many dangerous and risks, just watch the news if you doubt me. If you are going out for a walk in the countryside make sure someone knows you went out in case you get lost or injured and it could be hours before someone finds you to help.

These are my tips.

If there is something you would add to the list please share it with me.

Safe walking!

All you need to know about Ticks and Fleas

All you need to know about Ticks and Fleas

Ticks and fleas are a big problem for our four legged friends. So often I hear “Oh but my dog doesn’t have fleas, so no, I don’t use anything”. That’s just pure silly. The fact that a pet is flea or tick free today doesn’t mean it will be like this tomorrow. And believe me it is much easier to prevent the infestation than later trying to cure it.

I found a brilliant table on Cesar’s Way website, which shows the main differences between ticks and fleas – have a look.

Fleas v Ticks

Ticks crawl onto tall grass and shrubs and wait for a host to walk by. They can wait for a year without feeding. Dogs are most likely to pick up ticks while walking in the woods or high grass from spring through fall. Outdoor cats can pick up ticks the same way. Ticks are more common in warm climates. Ticks are much more dangerous for us and our pets. You can feel ticks while petting your cat or dog, and you can see them. They most often attach near the head, neck, ears, or paws. On cats, they’re typically found around the ears and eyes. Ticks can carry dangerous diseases, and it doesn’t take long for a pet to pick up the disease while a tick is feeding. If you find a tick on your pet, try to remove it as soon as possible. There is a lot of “magical” ways to remove ticks, but skip gasoline, nail polish, petroleum jelly, alcohol, or a hot match. These methods can force infected fluids back into the bite. Instead:

  • Use gloves or tissue to cover your hands.
  • Grasp the tick with tweezers from the side, by its head, close to the skin.
  • Pull straight up. Don’t twist.
  • Don’t squeeze (or pop!) the bloated belly.

Wash the bite area and your hands. Mouth parts that remain rarely cause serious problems. But if you’re worried, call your vet.

Ticks can transmit many potentially deadly diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis; they cause similar symptoms in dogs, which include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Joint swelling or pain

These diseases can have serious complications, so prompt treatment is essential. Tick-borne diseases are uncommon in cats, but they can get a tick infection called cytauxzoonosis, which is often fatal – so do your best to keep pests off your cat and out of your home.

In addition to spreading diseases, ticks can cause other health problems in dogs, including: anemia, skin irritation or infection or tick paralysis.

Fleas are much more common problem. Fleas rarely jump from one pet to another, as is often thought. Instead cats and dogs pick them up from infested environments. This could be your garden, the local park, a friend’s house – any place where an animal that has fleas, such as a rabbit, hedgehog, fox or another cat or dog, may be found.

Most people think of fleas as a nuisance but they are much more than this. In addition to creating itchy spots they can carry diseases; the most popular being tapeworms. The worst part is that this doesn’t stop at pets; they can be transmitted into humans too.

The most obvious sign of fleas is scratching or when it comes to some cats over grooming. Fleas can jump and once in your home, you might need to treat more than just your pet 🙁

So, how to protect ourselves and our pets?

The answer is simple: use a good quality preventive product to avoid the tick and fleas in the first place.

We use Frontline Spot On; it kills fleas and ticks and controls biting lice on both cats and dogs. Frontline Spot On is Fast Acting: kills fleas within 24 hours and ticks within 48 hours; it is long lasting: kills fleas for up to 5 weeks in cats and up to 2 months in dogs as well as kills ticks for up to months in both cats and dogs; it is water resistant, which means that your pet can swim or be bathed as usual from 48 hours after application.

Thing to remember: there is a lot of different products on the market but please whatever you choose always consult with your vet before picking any tick or flea treatment. Never use your dog treatment on your cat as this can be fatal. Never think your pet is safe from ticks or fleas because it simply isn’t true.

Be a responsible pet owner and protect your furry babies!

* Source:
http://uk.frontline.com/Pages/default.aspx
http://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/flea3.htm
http://www.cesarsway.com/flea-and-tick-awareness/The-Differences-Between-Fleas-and-Ticks
http://pets.webmd.com/ss/slideshow-flea-and-tick-overview
http://www.purina.co.uk/content/your-cat/helping-to-keep-your-cat-healthy/regular-cat-care/cat-fleas-and-ticks
http://amicus-wet.pl/static/upload/Content/MVOL_Ticks_and_Fleas_DRUK__2__tcm115-221437.pdf
http://piesikot.waw.pl/porady-lekarza-weterynarii/zdrowie-psa-porady-lekarza-weterynarii/72-pchy-i-kleszcze

How to be a responsible dog owner

New best friend

Just around Christmas time many families will have the brilliant idea of getting a new pet – A dog, cat or even something smaller like a rabbit or a bird… for some of them this decision will be well thought through, but sadly for some it may well be a rushed decision made in the heat of the moment.

In light of this, I have put together a list of important things to consider whilst getting a new pet, especially a dog, but to the same extent it will work for any pet.

Please remember that pets are not just for Christmas and they will stay with you long after you have forgotten all about the festive season, so think before you decided to get a new companion.

So this is my little guide on how to be a responsible dog owner…

Never, ever buy a pet in a heat of a moment

This is happening way too often, you go somewhere, see a cute fluffy puppy and before you know it; you’re driving him home with you… Bad idea!

Do your research

This is really important! Find the bread you love, but most importantly a breed which will fit into your lifestyle… for example do not buy a Husky if you hate walking… once you pick your perfect breed read about it, talk to other owners and if you are happy with what you read and hear start looking for a good breeder. Identify traits and problematic behaviours that may become evident in adulthood. You want your pup to be from a good home, I am not suggesting that it must be a show dog, but find a breeder who cares about dogs and doesn’t do it just for the money. Make sure that your pup is health checked, that you meet his/her parents, look further down the genetic line to check for any problems from the past. If you do this right, your chances of getting a healthy pet are so much greater.

Or if you are not keen on a weeing, chewing pup with endless energy levels maybe consider a rescue dog, but again do your research before you hand over the money and sign any contract (yes, you will be asked to sign a rescue contract, ours for Lilly was almost as long as the one which we signed whilst buying our house).

Check your finance

Yes, you are reading it right. Pets are not free and they do not live on air. You will need money for food, treats, pet accessories like leads, collars, harness, pet bedding, toys etc but most important you will need dog insurance, because everyone knows vets are extremely expensive places to visit. Some owners forget about the cost of the vet, but you simply cannot ignore the fact that your new best friend will need vaccination and it will most likely get sick every now and then. When getting a large breed think about transport… can you fit your dog and all other members of your family into your current car? We had to buy a bigger car when Bunk stopped being a pup, simply because we couldn’t travel all at once in my little Astra but at least we had planned for this before we got him.

Look at your home and lifestyle

This is something many people ignore but try and answer these questions honestly:

Is my home pet friendly?

Will I have time for my new friend?

What will happen when I have to go away?

If you work 10 hours a day, like your home perfect, clean, gloop and hair free, like weekends away – is a dog really for you?

Do you have friends who will be able to look after your pup when you go away or will you make a passport for your dog so he/she can travel with you (which mean’s even more money and expense)?

A dog will change your life but you have to be sure you are ready for those changes and will be able to handle it on a daily basis.

Josh Billings once said:

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself”

Are you ready to take this responsibility and return that feeling?

This is a sponsored post and I have a link to Argos in it but in reality you are spoilt for choice if you are looking to insure your pet. There are other providers you can find via searching on Google or Yell so I recommend you get quotes from more than one company and compare prices and what is covered.