6 Common Dangers to Watch Out For When Walking Your Dog

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iStock

Walking a furry companion on a sunny day has innumerable benefits for both dogs and their owners, something researchers have dubbed "the Lassie effect." Neighborhood strolls help meet weekly exercise recommendations and can even aid in lowering your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis. For the pooch, regular walks can reduce their risk of illness and help keep their weight under control (though diet remains the most important factor in preventing dogs from tipping the scale).

While these excursions are almost always beneficial, there are certain hazards to keep in mind when venturing outdoors with your dog. We asked Stephanie Liff, DVM, owner of Pure Paws Veterinary Care in Manhattan, about some of the more common canine dangers encountered during strolls and what to do in case a good walk gets spoiled.

1. TREATED LAWNS AND PESTICIDES

Large dog lying in the grass.
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Dogs trotting through neighboring lawns will eventually encounter grass that's been chemically treated to keep it healthy or to ward off insects. If your pet rolls around on it, a contact rash might develop. "They might get itchy or you might see some vomiting," says Liff. If the dog’s skin seems irritated, washing in dish soap is a good idea: It cuts through the kind of oil-based products typically sprayed on lawns. If irritation persists, you can administer an antihistamine like Benadryl or contact a vet for further advice.

Insecticides are generally formulated to target insects, not mammals, but you should take care to keep your dog from ingesting rodenticides, which are blocks of poison found near bushes and intended to kill mice and rats. Rodenticides cause internal bleeding in pests and dogs alike. Lethargy, coughing, and weakness should be addressed by a professional immediately.

2. MARIJUANA

Sleepy bulldog
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Relaxed state laws concerning marijuana possession are a likely reason the number of reported incidences of accidental ingestion in pets have risen in recent years. Dogs might be more susceptible to the effects of the drug than humans due to having more cannabinoid receptors. While woofing down a discarded joint (or an edible left out at home) is not likely to be serious, Liff says a dog's reaction depends on their size. "Most dogs typically don’t get ill but smaller dogs can experience low blood pressure and a low heart rate," she says. If a pet has indulged but acts normally, at-home monitoring should be sufficient. If he or she acts dazed or sleepy, get them evaluated. Treatment is usually just getting IV fluids.

3. WATER

Small dog drinking water out of a puddle.
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Even if your dog isn't prone to vacuuming every strange object in sight, they might still want to stop for a drink at the nearest body of water. That can be a deceptively serious situation. Some ponds have blue-green algae, which is highly toxic to dogs and can cause neurological symptoms, excessive drooling, and gastrointestinal issues that need immediate attention. Drinking or wading in such water should be avoided. Also try to monitor your dog around saltwater, as fetching in oceans can lead to accidental ingestion, causing diarrhea and dehydration.

You want to be wary of standing water anywhere, Liff says. "Muddy puddles in parks can contain bacteria called leptospirosis, which can be fatal." There is a vaccine, but it's best not to let your dog drink from anything but water you carry yourself or a nearby tap.

4. GUM

Border collie on a sidewalk looking at camera.
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Dogs coming across gum or candy should keep on walking. Many sweets are made with Xylitol, a sugar substitute that doesn't agree with a dog's digestive system. "The immediate effect is that it tricks the body into thinking it's sugar, causing hypoglycemia," Liff says. "They'll be woozy and weak. At a high enough dose, dogs can develop liver failure within 72 hours." If you suspect Xylitol consumption, get them to the vet. According to Liff, "we'll make them vomit."

5. BAGELS

Dog carrying a bagel in its mouth.
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Thanks to coffee shops discarding their trash and people tossing aside half-eaten bagels for birds to enjoy, a dog stroll can expose your pet to a potentially dangerous breakfast snack. "Dogs cannot eat raisins or grapes," Liff says. "It's toxic to their kidneys." A lot of pet owners know this, but aren't mindful of stray raisin bagels that might be within a dog's reach. Even small amounts can cause vomiting, lethargy, and kidney failure. Vet care is necessary.

6. THE SUN

Two golden retrievers in a park.
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We're bombarded with advice to slather ourselves in sunblock, and pets need some, too. Dogs with lighter-colored coats, Liff says, often have sensitive pink skin underneath that should be protected where hair is thinner, like around their nose. While there are pet sunblocks available, anything with zinc and that's PBA-free should be fine.

"Heat irritation from hot pavement is also common," she says. "It can burn their pads." Some dogs can tolerate boots for walking on hot surfaces. If not, some ice and moisturizing products to ease blistering will help.

Pet owners should also try to discourage dogs from eating poop, as it can contain parasites. And be sure to check them for ticks after being outdoors by running your hands along their body to feel for bumps.

If you suspect your pet has ingested anything potentially harmful, call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. The latter charges a $59 consultation fee.

Scotland Could Become the First Country to Provide Universal Period Products to Citizens

emapoket, iStock via Getty Images
emapoket, iStock via Getty Images

Fears over where to find—and how to afford—sanitary products before their next menstrual cycle may no longer be an issue for people in Scotland. Earlier today, as the BBC reports, Members of Scottish Parliament passed the first part of a bill that would make items like pads and tampons free to the public.

The Period Products Bill was first put forth in 2017 to address period poverty, which affects people who are unable to afford essential menstrual hygiene products. Pads, tampons, and some reusable menstrual items are currently available to students in primary schools and universities in the country. The Scottish government has also expanded the program to include additional public places and sports clubs, but this new bill goes even further. If passed, Scotland would become the first country to provide free period products to citizens on a universal scale.

Ministers in the Scottish Parliament were initially concerned about the bill's £24 million ($31 million) annual price tag, but earlier this month, members of all parties in the government came out in support of the legislation. Though the bill passed through the first stage of parliament today, February 25, the BBC wrote that "The government is expected to put forward a raft of amendments to address their 'significant' concerns about the legislation," including the aforementioned cost.

Period poverty is an issue that's felt around the world. In America, many lawmakers are fighting to end the "tampon tax": a sales tax that's added to sanitary products and waived from other hygiene products deemed essential in many states, like dandruff shampoo.

[h/t BBC]

10 Simple Tricks for Charging Your Smartphone Faster

Makidotvn, iStock via Getty Images
Makidotvn, iStock via Getty Images

Smartphones always seem to reach low power at the least convenient moments possible. If you've ever urged your device to charge faster in the minutes before a phone interview or when you're about to board a plane, you can relate. While the easiest way to avoid this scenario is to plug in your device before the battery dips into the danger zone, if you've already reached this point, there are simple ways to speed up the charging process.

Some hacks for charging a phone faster involve steps you can take in anticipation of the next time you're surviving on minimum energy. Certain gadgets, like special chargers and battery packs, will power-up your device more efficiently than others. For moments when your phone is dying and all you have is your regular charging cable, adjusting your phone's settings to minimize the power it consumes also works in a pinch.

You can find some specific ways to charge your phone quickly below: 

  1. Plug it into a wall outlet instead of a USB port.
  1. Use a portable battery pack.
  1. Buy a special "fast" phone charger.
  1. Switch to low power mode.
  1. Switch to airplane mode.
  1. Let your phone drain completely on its own once a month to the extend the battery life.
  1. Close any background apps.
  1. Stop automatic app updates.
  1. Don't check your phone while it's charging
  1. Keep your phone out of the heat.

For more tricks for making your phone usage more efficient, check out these tips for typing faster.

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