Cars and Dogs: Getting Hit Isn’t the Only Danger

When you think of cars and dogs, the first danger that comes to mind is collision. Clearly this is an all-too-common occurrence that can lead to severe or fatal injuries. But collisions are by no means the only risk to your pet. Here are other car-related dangers that you may not know about.


Dogs that chase cars are attracted to the movement. Unfortunately, this reckless behavior is often the precursor to being hit by other vehicles whose drivers didn’t expect an animal in the road. Dogs that leap, dart or jump out at cars can cause accidents as well-meaning drivers swerve to miss them. Even a dog on a leash can hurt itself or its owner if it lunges at passing cars. Training is needed to correct this problem and ensure the dog’s safety.

Hot and Cold Cars

Every year, animal control officers receive a high volume of calls regarding dogs left in hot cars. Even during moderately sunny weather, the interior of a parked car can soar to over 100 degrees in only a few minutes. On hotter days, the temperature may top 160. It doesn’t take long in heat like that for dogs to suffer heat stroke, brain damage or even death.

Winter poses similar threats. Leaving dogs alone in cold cars makes them prime targets for hypothermia. Trying to keep a dog warm by leaving the engine running and the heater on may cause carbon monoxide to build up inside the vehicle, causing a potentially fatal situation.

Unrestrained Riding

The sight of a car whizzing by with a dog hanging its head out the window could be an unfortunate sign of trouble to come. Dogs that ride in cars without a crate or harness can distract drivers by climbing into laps, getting underfoot or even just by being anxious. Riding in the front seat puts them at risk for harm from the airbag should it deploy. Should the dog become overly excited, it’s possible that it will try to escape through an open window even if the car is moving. In the event of an accident, unrestrained dogs become airborne and can cause impacts equal to hundreds or even thousands of pounds. These dangers make it smart to invest in some kind of safety system if you drive with your dog.

Car Fluids

Even when a car is parked safely in the garage, your dog may be at risk from leaking fluids. Antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste that attracts pets but contains poisonous ethylene glycol which can cause damage to the liver, kidneys and brain. The same chemical shows up in brake fluid. Petroleum-based liquids such as gasoline and motor oil can cause a condition called petroleum hydrocarbon toxicosis. If your dog ingests these, don’t encourage vomiting. Instead, call the vet and get your pet there as quickly as possible.

Recognizing and Treating Kennel Cough: A Guide for Dog Owners

Kennel cough, sometimes called Bordetella or tracheobronchitis, is an infection commonly seen in dogs that have been exposed to crowded kennels or shelters, excessive cold temperatures, travel-related stress or irritants such as cigarette smoke. These conditions make dogs more susceptible to contracting one of the many infectious agents that cause the disease. Here’s how to protect and treat your canine companion.


Bordetella bronchiseptica, mycoplasma and parainfluenza virus are just a few of the bacteria and viruses that can cause symptoms of kennel cough. Dogs with the disease develop inflammation of the larynx and trachea which can spread to other dogs via airborne particles. This is why the condition is so common in shelters and kennels; the close quarters make it easy for bacteria and viruses to travel.

Signs and Symptoms

Mild cases of kennel cough cause symptoms that include:

  • Persistent “honking” cough
  • Retching
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Eye discharge

Infected dogs generally continue to eat well and maintain their regular activity levels. However, if loss of appetite, lethargy, rapid breathing or other serious symptoms develop, dogs should be checked by a veterinarian to determine if another illness such as pneumonia is present.

Medical Treatments

A veterinarian diagnoses kennel cough by evaluating the animal’s symptoms and history of exposure. Vets may prescribe cough suppressants or bronchodilators to help dogs be more comfortable. Antibiotics don’t tend to shorten the duration of infection and so are generally not prescribed unless the case is more severe. Dogs that are likely to be exposed to kennel cough can be vaccinated against the disease.

Natural Remedies

Just as with human illnesses, there are many natural options for treating kennel cough. Humidifying the air in the area where the dog spends most of his or her time may ease symptoms. Adding essential oils such as eucalyptus to the humidifier or an oil diffuser can also be soothing.

Herbs that have been used successfully to treat kennel cough include licorice, sage, blackberry, elder blossom, thyme, fenugreek and slippery elm. Before employing any of these remedies, however, consult with a trained herbalist for instruction on combinations and dosage. Dogs will need much less of an herb than humans and proper preparation is important in order to get the most out of each remedy.

Other natural options to consider include raw honey, which is known for its disease-fighting properties; coconut oil, which contains medium-chain fatty acids that are reported to fight bacteria and viruses and vitamins C and E, both of which are important for immune health in dogs as well as humans.


Depending on the age and health of the infected dog, kennel cough can take anywhere from ten days to six weeks to clear completely. The agent causing the infection may remain in the dog’s system for as long as 14 weeks, during which time the dog is still contagious and should be kept away from other animals.

How to Protect Your Cat Against Outdoor Dangers

Many cat owners feel their felines need to spend time outdoors to get fresh air and exercise. However, experts agree that outdoor cats are more subject to dangerous situations than indoor cats. Even cats that only go outside once and a while can encounter hazards. Consider these cautions before deciding whether or not to let your cat have some outdoor time.

Contact With Feral Cats

Feral cats can carry a variety of diseases that threaten the health of domestic cats. Feline leukemia, distemper and upper respiratory infections are just a few of the illnesses your cat could contract from feral cats. Ferals can also be unfriendly or territorial, leading to fights that could leave your cat with a painful injury. These health concerns require vet visits that can be expensive for you and traumatic for your cat.

Dangerous Situations

Cars are the most obvious danger to outdoor cats and pose the greatest risk of fatal injuries. However, cars aren’t the only hazard. Dogs that run loose in the neighborhood and wild animals such as coyotes can pose a threat to cats. If chased by one of these animals, your cat may go up a tree for safety and be too frightened to come back down. Unfortunately, he or she can’t rely on humans to be helpful in these situations. It’s a sad fact that some people take pleasure in being cruel to animals. Humans may also unwittingly harm outdoor cats by leaving garbage and chemicals where they can easily be ingested and cause illness or poisoning.

Parasite Infections

Fleas and ticks are much easier for cats to pick up when they spend a lot of time outside. These pests are often carriers of infections such as Lyme disease which negatively affect your cat’s quality of life. Ear mites and various kinds of worms are also common parasites that outdoor cats can pick up. Even though it’s unlikely that these will be life-threatening, your cat will still suffer unpleasant symptoms and can bring infections home to other family pets.

Lost Cats

Outdoor cats are roaming cats, and when a cat roams, he or she is liable to get lost. Make sure your cat has a collar with an ID tag and wears it at all times. Since collars can sometimes get lost, consider also getting your cat microchipped for identification. In case of an emergency, keep current photos of your cat on hand. This will allow you to make “Lost Cat” fliers quickly should your cat go missing.

If you’re concerned about these potential problems but still want your cat to be able to enjoy the outdoors, another option is to build an enclosure near the house. This gives your cat a place to play and explore without the dangers associated with roaming free.