Is Dog Safety A Real Concern?
Of the dogs rushed to veterinary intensive care, 91.1% of the time the cause is blunt vehicular trauma–in other words, a car accident. Another danger to dogs is risk of disease. Almost 25% of dogs, less than a year old, are killed by infectious diseases. The second-highest killer of young dogs is trauma, over 20% of deaths. For adult dogs the highest causes of death are neoplastic, or cancerous, but the second-highest killer is also trauma, at 10% of the deaths.
The causes are mostly preventable, but dog safety is very important. With adequate containment measures, car accidents could be lessened. Containment systems also play an important part in limiting the uncontrolled exposure of a dog to possible carriers of infectious diseases, like stray or uncontained dogs, or even ticks and insects. This article provides an overview of the relationship between containment and risk levels, and how other factors like age or size can affect a dog’s risk levels.
Risks Facing Un-contained and Unprotected Dogs
There are two risks that dogs are particularly prone to. The first are infectious diseases, caused by uncontrolled contact with unsafe surroundings. The most widespread are parvovirus and distemper. The first is spread through bites, the second and third through contact with bodily discharges of infected dogs. All are preventable through vaccinations, but if for some reason there was a delay in his immunization, there are no vaccinations that can combat any of the viruses directly.
For parvovirus, 80% of affected puppies will die without treatment. If the puppy gets treatment, 15% will still die because of the virus. Since the preventive vaccination is available, it is much more reasonable to invest in that protection before anything happens. For canine distemper, 80% of puppies and 50% of adult dogs will die if they contract it. It also makes more sense to invest in the preventive vaccine for this disease.
The second dog safety risk that exists trauma, which is the general term that describes physical damage to a dog. Blunt trauma is associated with non-puncturing injuries, from collisions or being struck with a blunt instrument.
1.2 million dogs are killed by car accidents every year in the US–and that’s only those who don’t survive. That means that 2 dogs are killed per second by car accidents. While infectious diseases can still accidentally reach the dogs through its owners even if he is well contained, very rarely does a dog get into a vehicular accident within his own yard.
Levels of Containment
The three basic levels of containment are Low, Medium, and High. The first category, Low, encompasses situations where there are no containment systems, or where the containment system might as well not be there. The second, Medium, is the level wherein there is either a privacy fence or an invisible or electric dog fence. Lastly, a High containment level describes a combination of the privacy and the electric dog fences, for maximum pet safety.
With a Low level of containment, there is either literally or practically nothing keeping your dog from exploring the outside world as he chooses. He therefore becomes vulnerable to a wider range of diseases than he would have been within a containment system. He also becomes exposed to them more regularly, which wears at resistance. At the same time, without anything to block him from running onto any road or highway, he becomes fully at risk for blunt vehicular trauma.
With a Medium level of containment, the dog owner has either a privacy fence or an electric dog fence. This level of containment is only considered Medium because both kinds of fences have features that still risk the dogs breaking out.
It may seem that a privacy fence is a better barrier than an electric dog fence, simply because it is both visible and physical. However, a privacy fence has many enemies: diggers, jumpers, and the escape artists that can shrink their bodies to fit almost anywhere. Also, a damaged fence may be taken advantage of by a dog even before you know that there is any.
The invisible and electric dog fence does have a disadvantage in being invisible–dogs can “walk through” it because there is no physical fence to bump up against. However, because the containment is through static correction, a well-trained dog cannot jump over, dig under, or slip through that fence. However, there are some incidents when an extremely excited or upset dog will rush straight through the fence, static correction and all.
Lastly, the High containment level is the most effective, because it combines both the privacy and electric dog fences. No containment system is perfect, and a tornado or tsunami could probably take out both in one go, but the combination comes close. With a privacy fence in place, over-excited or upset dogs will still find a block to free-running, even if they make it through the static correction. And with an electric dog fence in place, dogs are less likely to even attempt jumping over or digging under the privacy fence.
As for disease prevention measures, for the main part there are no levels of protection and prevention. Either the dog has been vaccinated against the most common preventable diseases, or he has not. Everything beyond that depends on the containment system. The lower the pet’s security, the more likely he is to contract a disease that is not covered by the regular vaccinations.
Other Factors for Consideration
For both diseases and trauma, there are factors that either raise or lower the risk level of the dog. For infectious diseases such as parvovirus and distemper, the younger the dog is, the more at-risk he is. For both diseases, puppies between 6 weeks and 6 months are most at risk of contracting the disease. The vaccination can be given to a 6-week old puppy.
For trauma, especially car accidents, the smaller the dog is, the more at-risk he is of being hit by a car. Drivers are less likely to see the dog, so are less likely to brake or swerve to avoid hitting it. The breeds with the highest likelihood of dying due to trauma are Jack Russell Terriers (19.8% of deaths), toy dogs such as the Miniature Pinscher (19.6%) and chihuahua (16.8%), and other breeds such as beagles (16%).
Dog Lives Matter: Practice Containment and Prevention
“Preventable” is the most frustrating word, for dog-lovers who have ever lost or come close to losing their companions. It is important for pet owners to consult a vet or do intensive research on the care and health of their dogs, so that prevention of disease and trauma is achieved, rather than discovered too late.
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