A man has been fined S$5,000 for keeping his pet dog in the balcony of his apartment, and exposing it to the sun and rain for long periods of time… Ling had said he was not aware of causing any suffering to his pet as it was healthy. – 3 Sep, 2013 channelnewsasia – The balcony is not a safe environment for dogs when unsupervised.
When you live in a high-rise apartment with a dog like we do, the balcony is the closest to the outside world for the dog. To humans, it is an area of relaxation and it can be so for a dog as well. But would a dog do well on the balcony by himself for at least 8 hours a day when the human is out at work? Can you, the human, imagine staying on the balcony for the same amount of time?
Let’s imagine this scenerio and look at how safe the balcony is for a dog.
1. Is it possible for the dog to jump over the balcony and plunge down to its death?
Balcony rails are typically about waist-height or slightly higher, right? When calm, Donna is fully capable of launching herself up on architectural structures in the park that stand at 50-60cm in height. When excited, this is approximately the height Donna can reach without launching off the floor.
We don’t know if she can launch herself over the balcony railing, but we don’t intend to test that out! What we do know is, another dog from her litter has already proven that dogs can jump down to their deaths from the window, due to thunderstorm phobia. Not all dogs have thunderstorm phobia, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a reason to jump.
I have a friend who lives on the fourth floor of a building. Saturday was a pretty day, so he left his balcony door open so that the dog could lounge out there if she wanted. A few hours later, he gets a call from a neighbor, telling him that the dog jumped off the balcony and is hurt on the ground…landed in gravel. – Emmy, August 2011, Shibainuforum.org
And we may not always know why and when they would do it.
2. Can the dog cope with being outside on the balcony and exposed to the wind and rain?
Some dogs, like ours, get thunderstorm phobia. What is thunderstorm phobia?
This is what being over threshold looks like. I’m sorry if it upsets anybody.
Symptoms of Thunderstorm Phobia
- Selective deafness – dog focuses only on the thunder and not to you anymore
- Freezing in place
- Violent shaking
- Ears pulled back
- Needing to eliminate immediately
How much worse for a dog all alone on a balcony? And even if the dog does not suffer from the debilitating fear of thunder, it wouldn’t be the best place to stay when it is wet and windy, would it?
At least, I for one like to keep snug and dry indoors.
3. Let’s say the balcony is totally grilled and secure like a prison cell and it is not the rainy monsoon season yet, can the dog be left in the balcony then?
Interestingly enough, I have never seen anyone chilling out on those balconies in the middle of the day.This is the tropics after all… glaringly bright, humidly hot. No, thank you.
But seriously, what are the risks? Despite the hair on their bodies, dogs can get sunburnt too. And that includes the associated risks, such as skin cancer.
According to Dr. Karen Campbell, veterinary dermatologist at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, sunburn starts as redness and hair loss on the ear tips, bridge of the nose, or abdomen and can lead to skin ulceration, infection, and carcinoma… “The belly is prone to sunburn because of sunlight that reflects up from the sidewalk…” says Dr. Campbell… Sunburn and repeated, excessive exposure to UV radiation can lead to skin cancer… in dogs and cats as it does in humans. .. Excessive sun exposure can also exacerbate existing skin problems… – vetmed.illinois.edu : Protect your pets from Sunburn, Jun 6, 2005. Kim Marie Labak.
Dogs need to drink more when it’s hot outside, particularly on the balcony that faces the sun during the day. Some balconies are not deep and provide little shade. That man mentioned in the news article right at the start of this post? From the picture in the news article, it seemed he provided the dog with his water bowl and a plastic crate. But is that good enough? Remember dogs overheat and die in parked cars.
In a plastic kennel just the right size for the dog that provides shade but possibly not enough airflow. Chances are the kennel will start heating up as the sun moves across the sky, right?
Of course, a car and a kennel are two very different things. But I, for one, would need some serious convincing/on-site demonstration from the salesman to give that plastic dog house the benefit of the doubt.
Outside in the blazing sun or inside the the hot, stuffy crate? Left alone on the balcony, the dog doesn’t have the choice to escape the heat, does it?
So why do some people lock the dog out of the house, on the balcony, when they go out?
I could hazard a guess that the dog is not house-trained and may mess up the house when the human is gone. Perhaps the human has other animals in the house and need to keep them separated? Regardless of the reasons, keeping the dog alone on the balcony is not the solution.
Agree, disagree? Are there other balcony dangers you know of that is not shared here?
If you found this post useful, please share with people whom you think may find it helpful too, for example:
- first-time dog adopting families
- existing dog idiots living in a flat/apartment with a balcony
- working families who leave the dog home alone with a full-time domestic help