There are many hazards for which dog walkers need to be vigilant. As a puppy owner, I often feel that I wading knee deep in litter, every bit of which has the potential to end up in my puppy’s mouth and some of which could be fatal.
Getting out of town no longer provides respite as litter is far from an urban problem. Fly-tipping in the countryside has been an increasing problem since Covid-19 lockdowns and the sparsity or rural police. However, it is not the only difficulty that may be encountered.
There has been increasing concern about direct discharges of sewage onto UK beaches resulting in dog walkers being warned about 83 beaches. Problems have been exacerbated by recent heavy rainfall. The Thames has long suffered from this problem, although it seems not to deter owners from allowing their dogs to swim: if the tides don’t get you the sewage will, to misquote Tom Lehrer. Hopefully, the Thames Tideway Tunnel will alleviate the problems along the Thames and its tributaries, although that isn’t due to open until 2025.
In addition, the horrendous outbreak of avian influenza (H5N1) that had ravaged domestic and wild birds has spread to some mammals. So far, it has been detected in foxes, otters and seals in the UK. Whilst the number remain small and H5N1 may not have been the cause of death, it does pose a risk. Training your dog not to harry wildlife or scavenge carcasses is vital, not only to keep your dog safe, but to limit the potential of overspill form birds into dogs.
As the easter holidays approach, many people will no doubt be heading to beaches. Training and vigilance should ensure that it shouldn’t turn into a vet emergency.