I cracked up when I read this Haiku on the Facebook page of a longtime friend of mine…
Storm clouds void water.
Unable to pee in rain,
She waits in envy.
But, I imagine my friend wasn’t laughing. You see, along with her creative poem was a picture of her German Shepherd puppy, staring longingly out the window.
When the earth is swallowed up in water, it is frustrating to us humans. We can’t go anywhere without getting pelted by raindrops. We have to juggle an umbrella with all the other stuff we are used to keeping up with. Our backyards become puddles and we have to dry our dog’s paws every time they go out. It cramps our style and can often put us in a foul mood.
But rain in the forecast can also signal danger for our canines. These threats come in the form of four risk factors: poor visibility, lightning, puddles, and sickness. Let’s talk about these risks and how to avoid them.
With rain, comes poor visibility for drivers. Drivers who cannot see out their windshield because of pouring rain are a risk to your dog. If your dog gets spooked by the rain, he’s liable to run out into oncoming traffic. If you do have to go out in the rain with your dog, make sure to have him on a leash. You may also want to consider using a reflective collar and/or leash. We like this Ruffwear Crag Collar we just bought for our dog that has reflective webbing.
Lightning and thunder often accompany rain, and can also scare your dog, causing him to run away. When lightning and thunder are present, it is best to avoid going for long walks. Umbrellas and leashes have metal parts which can attract lightning. But, it is important to note that you should resist the urge to take off your dog’s collar. Even though his collar may have metal parts, the risk of a lightning strike is not as great as the risk of him running away with potentially no identification--one more reason to invest in microchipping!
Another risk that accompanies rainy days is puddles. Standing water can be host to dangerous bacteria like leptospirosis and giardia. Dr. Sarah Tauber, a veterinarian at DoveLewis Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital in Portland, Oregon, recommends getting your dog vaccinated against leptospirosis if your dog tends to drink from and/or walk through standing water. Even if your dog doesn’t actually drink from infected water, if he walks through it and licks his paws he can still ingest dangerous bacteria. Tauber also recommends making sure your dog is well-hydrated, so he is not tempted to drink from other water sources during a walk or when he is outside in the yard. Standing water can also contain runoff from motor oil or lawn chemicals, so it is best to avoid puddles at all times.
Now you know standing water can make your dog sick, but did you know cold, rainy weather can also cause pneumonia? Long term exposure to cold, wet weather can lead to inflammation of your dog’s respiratory tract, and eventually pneumonia. Pneumonia is especially dangerous for senior dogs and puppies, as well as dogs with weakened immune systems. Make sure to wipe your dog down well with a towel and consider putting a doggy rain jacket on him if you must take him for a walk. This waterproof dog raincoat from Amazon, the Ellie Dog Wear Reflective Adjustable Raincoat, received 4.5 stars and glowing reviews.
It is important to be prepared for rain so that when it comes, you won’t miss a beat or get out of routine with your four-legged friend. If you follow our tips, you’ll be well on your way to staying safe, healthy, and happy throughout a rain storm.