Shelter Dog Meal Donation Count:

Learn More

Top 10 Causes of Accidental Death in Dogs and How to Prevent Them

Written by: Scott H
Scott Haiduc is the Director of Publishing for iHeartDogs, iHeartCats and The Hero Company. When not working, Scott spends his time on the farm, taking care of his animals and crops.Read more
| Published on April 11, 2014

We all try to protect our dogs as well as we can from things that may cause them harm. Try as we might, the tragic does happen from time to time and we lose our beloved pet too early due to an accidental death.

Below is a list of the top 10 causes of accidental death in dogs and how you can help prevent them from occurring.

Causes of Accidental Death in Dogs

A life vest can help prevent your dog from drowning (and looks cute too!)
A life vest can help prevent your dog from drowning (and looks cute too!)

1. Poisoning

Your dog can be poisoned in many ways – pills, plants, foods, chemicals, etc., — all pose deadly threats. Prevent this by keeping medicines, cleaners, and foods out of your dog’s reach and do not plant toxic flora in your backyard. While on a walks, pay attention to what your pet is doing to ensure they do not eat something harmful. Call the Pet Poison Helpline immediately should your dog eat anything dangerous.

2. Drowning

Pools, lakes, rivers, creeks – can all be deadly to your dog. Help prevent drowning by watching your pet whenever they are near water; put in a fence around your pool so your dog does not have free access to it; watch for signs of fatigue and take your dog out of the water if they appear too tired. Putting a life vest on your dog is also a good idea.

3. Weather

Extreme weather in either direction (hot or cold) can cause death to your dog. Do not leave your dog in a car, garage, or outside if it’s too cold or too hot. In warm weather, watch your dog for signs of heat exhaustion and make sure they have plenty of water. In cold weather, put a sweater or coat on short hair breeds when you do take them out.

4. Struck by Car

Sadly, this happens often. Drivers just do not watch as closely as they should nowadays, so you need to be more diligent than ever about keeping your dog near you and out of the street. Simply keeping your dog on leash can prevent this tragedy from ever occurring. Also, make sure your yard is secure so your dog cannot jump out. Teaching your dog a sit-stay at the door so she does not bolt into the street is also a great idea.

Related: 10 Best Dog Doors

5. Electrocution

This is something that is most often seen in puppies during their chewing phase, though it can happen to any age dog. If you have a known chewer, make sure all power cords are unplugged and out of your dog’s reach. Do not leave your dog unattended near any plugged-in cord.

6. Obstruction

This is one of the most common causes of death seen by vets. Dogs like to chew and swallow things they should not. And, while it is truly amazing what dogs seem to be able to pass, it’s best to not tempt fate by keeping objects out of your dog’s reach that she may try to swallow. Also, take away bones that are small enough to pose a choking hazard. Be sure you are buying toys the appropriate size. When it doubt, it’s always best to go with the bigger size.

7. Wild Animals

Regardless of the size of your dog, wild animals can mean death. Little dogs can be carried off by hawks, while coyotes, cougars, bears, etc., can kill even a large breed dog. If you live or travel in an area with a lot of wildlife, be sure you keep your pet in eyesight, especially from dusk till dawn, when they are most likely to be out and hunting. Putting a bell on your dog can sometimes help you keep track of them and ward of wild animals.

8. Jumping from Heights

Just like children, you need to watch your dog when they are near an open window, on a deck, or on the top story of a spilt level home. Your dog may fall accidentally or jump to chase another animal, out of fear or out of separation anxiety (if you are not home). If the bars on your deck are wide enough that your dog can fit through, add more bars or put up lattice to prevent him from squeezing through.

9. Suffocation

Usually suffocation occurs from a bag or food container the dog get his head stuck in while you are not at home. Make sure things that your dog may want to stick his head in are put away securely when you leave, especially if they contain food or smell of food (for example an empty coffee can or a grocery bag).

10. Complications from Anesthesia

This happens more often than most vets care to admit. Certain breeds, like collies and Shetland sheepdogs, are more prone to this than others. So are old or sick pets. A simple blood test done prior to putting your dog under can reduce the risk by letting you know if it’s safe to use anesthesia on your dog. This can change over the life of your pet, so if It’s been awhile since your dog has been under, re-check her bloodwork to be safe.


About the Author

Based in Tustin, Calif., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She also owns her own custom pet products company, A Fairytail House, where she makes personalized collars, leashes, beds, keepsake pillows and blankets, and anything else your imagine can think up. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs.

Recent Articles

Interested in learning even more about all things dogs? Get your paws on more great content from iHeartDogs!

Read the Blog