We know that as pet parents, you would never do anything to intentionally hurt or kill your dog. You take such good care of your furry friends. Regular vet care, high-quality food, and all kinds of quality time that bonds you with your pup. When you have to leave your dog for several days, you hire a fantastic pet sitting service to keep your pets safe and sound. Your dog is nothing less than a treasured family member. If anyone ever tried to hurt your dog, they’d have to get through you first!
Unfortunately, even some of the best pet owners have gone through something much worse. Without meaning any harm, they have done something that has accidentally either seriously injured — or even killed — their dog.
Most of the time, these are not freak accidents. Dogs have died from owners who just took a little chance or weren’t quite careful enough. What are some common ways this happens? And how can you avoid a tragedy?
1. Dogs Running Free in the Car
You love bringing your dog along in the car. Lulu seems to like it too, the way she looks out the window and wags her tail. You’ve trained her to lie down in the back seat, and if you have a passenger, they usually hold her.
It’s hard to say exactly how many dog owners do this regularly, but experts suggest it’s about two-thirds of us. Many times nothing goes wrong. But so many times it does, and then it’s usually a disaster.
In a car traveling 45 mph (a pretty typical speed around town), an unrestrained dog becomes a projectile that will hit something — the car interior, passengers, windshield — with tremendous force in a sudden stop. Even a leashed dog in the passenger seat could get killed by an exploding airbag: They deploy at speeds of 100-220 mph, putting any dog in its path at risk of death or severe injury.
It isn’t just collisions, either, that makes cars unsafe for untethered canines. Curious pups have jumped out of windows, too, with often fatal results. One police officer described what began as a routine interstate traffic stop. While talking with the driver, one of three dogs in the back seat accidentally stepped on the automatic window switch. With traffic noise at a constant roar, neither one heard the window or saw the dog leap onto the highway. Sightseeing dogs have met with similar fates. In an instant, lives change.
2. Dogs Getting Hit by a Car
Dog owners don’t always take leash laws seriously. Kids and spouses might have too much faith in their dogs’ willingness to stay in their own yards. Or maybe one day Rover follows his nose right under the fence while you run some errands. Those few moments of leash-free fun and games can end so very badly, though. Rover approaches a dog that turns out to be aggressive, so he runs. Rover spots a cat across the street or sees a moving car, and he runs.
Even if you’re there, chances are you can’t catch a streaking dog or get him to respond fast enough to your commands. You never imagined your neighbor would hit him driving home from work. Now you both have to live with a tragedy that could have been prevented.
3. Heat Stroke from Dogs Being Left in a Car
How many dog parents have taken their pooch on a short trip, parked in the shade, cracked the window, and left her for “just a few minutes”? Probably about the same amount as those who drive with an unrestrained dog.
But the temperature inside a car rises much faster than you might think. And according to many scientific studies, cracking the windows makes practically no difference. The Space Coast area doesn’t really have a season cool enough to leave a dog in the car even for a little while. The following table shows how quickly the temperature inside the vehicle will rise from uncomfortable to outright dangerous.
Temperature Rise in Car Interiors Based on Orlando, FL Weather
|Ave. temps in Orlando by Season1||How many minutes pass with the car closed up, windows cracked or not / then the temp inside the car2 is now…|
|10 minutes||30 minutes||60 minutes|
|Winter – 75°||94°||109°||118°|
|Spring – 85°||104°||119°||128°|
|Summer – 91°||110°||125°||134°|
|Fall – 84°||103°||118°||127°|
|1 Temp averages from National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2018|
|2 Temp rise inside car based on data from American Veterinary Medical Association|
Note that extreme temperatures are even harder on senior dogs and puppies. It’s better to leave your fur baby at home than to risk her suffering like this.
4. Obstruction, or Intestinal Blockage
Dogs will eat just about anything, and while sometimes it makes a funny story, it might instead have a tragic ending. What doesn’t pass through has to be removed by an endoscope or surgery. If the foreign object gets stuck, it not only blocks most anything else that needs to get by, but it also could poison your dog (e.g., zinc from a swallowed penny). Another risk is damage to whatever part of the body it lands in, such as the esophagus or the stomach.
Doctors have removed socks, magnets, jewelry, pocket knives, rocks, lightbulbs, and many other objects from canine tummies. Not only is this expensive ($3,200 for the removal of a magnetic letter, reported a beagle mom), but potentially deadly. While it’s probably impossible to prevent a four-legged eating machine from ever swallowing the wrong thing, pet parents are still responsible for taking reasonable measures and paying attention.
I have a friend who lives in Arizona with his family and two adorable #doodlesofinstagram. His adorable Goldendoodle, Goldie, is infamous for eating literally anything she can get her paws on. Recently, my friend and his wife noticed something important missing at home. Take a look at the x-rays below from Goldie’s visit to her vet and see if you can spot the wedding ring set along with some toy stuffing.
Luckily, my friend was able to avoid foreign object removal surgery for his pup as Goldie’s vet was able to get her to throw up the ring set after 2 days. It was a close call as it was not passing naturally. Depending on the amount of damage done by the object swallowed, surgery can range from $1,000-$7,000. While Goldie was able to cough up her Mom’s wedding ring set, my friend only coughed up around $300 thanks to pet insurance. Oh, Goldie!
5. Dog Poisoning
What would you guess is the most common poison ingested by dogs? Chocolate? Rat poison? House plants?
According to the most recent statistics from the Animal Poison Control Center (2017), it was human prescription medication such as antidepressants and heart medicine. Running a close second was over-the-counter meds like acetaminophen and cold/flu remedies.
Their “Top Ten List” included several predictable poisons, e.g., alcohol, insecticide, and of course, chocolate. Laundry detergent pods are newer additions. As with anything dogs want to eat but shouldn’t, the best strategy is to keep it away from them. It’s easier to install child safety locks than to explain to the vet how your dog wound up with a bottle of bleach in her mouth – or to see her suffer as a result.
IF YOUR VET ISN’T AVAILABLE, CALL THE ASPCA ANIMAL POISON CONTROL CENTER: (888) 426-4435. A consultation fee may apply.
Trained Pet Sitters Mean Less Stress for You
Finally, if you need to leave home for a few days or a few weeks, hiring a professional dog walking service will give you great peace of mind. Our staff at Space Coast Pet Services is highly trained in spotting potential hazards in the home as well as recognizing an animal in distress. We know how to help – or get help, and we will because we all love these animals like our own.
Before your next trip, schedule a home visit and know that your pets are in good hands. While you will still need to ensure your house is pup-proofed before you leave, you can leave the rest of it up to us!
What’s the craziest near-miss you have had with your dog? Share in the comments!
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, in 2016 she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, bonded, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This small amount allows me to bring you resources that I use or have researched and recommend.