How to Dog Proof Your Home
Excited to welcome home your new puppy? They’re excited too, eager to meet their new family and explore their surroundings for the first time. Before stocking up on toys and gear, take a look around your house. While it might look perfectly safe to you, it’s likely harboring a host of pet safety risks. The good news is that you’ve got the power to eliminate these and set the stage for safe and happy puppy years. Taking the time to do so will even pay off in the form of a less-cluttered home.
Dog Proof Your Kitchen
Few rooms in the house present as wide a variety of hazards as the kitchen. Potential toxins and injury risks could be hiding inside the pantry, the fridge, and each and every cabinet. Investing in a few childproof latches can go a long way in keeping adventurous pups safe from harm. If you’ve got an especially curious pet — one who’s prone to jumping and batting — you should keep them out of the kitchen while you’re cooking or make the room off limits altogether.
Unsafe Foods for Dogs
Everybody knows that chocolate consumption can be deadly for dogs and cats, but are you aware that the following common table foods can sicken or kill your pet?
- Onions and garlic: All members of the allium family (which also includes leeks and chives) are potentially deadly in any form. Symptoms like elevated heart rate, lethargy, and vomiting could take several days to appear.
- Grapes and raisins: Both dried and fresh grapes are highly toxic to pets. Though veterinarians aren’t sure why grapes and raisins are so dangerous, they know that all varieties can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney failure.
- Caffeine and alcohol: Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are far more potent for pets than for their owners. Watch out for discarded tea bags and stray coffee beans too.
- Artificial sweeteners: Xylitol keeps excess calories out of products like mints, gum, and a range of foods that would ordinarily include sugar. Even tiny amounts can cause seizures, liver failure, and death.
- Macadamia nuts: While certain nuts are perfectly safe for canine consumption, macadamia nuts are among the most dangerous things a dog can eat. Just a few can cause deadly neurological damage.
You should also watch dogs around any food that was prepared with added fats, sugar, salt, or seasonings. Even food you’ve already thrown away can lead to trouble, so make sure to keep trash cans securely closed. This will keep pets free from discarded choking and poisoning risks like chicken bones or coffee beans.
Dog Proofing Your Bedroom
Bedrooms are typically among the most pet-safe in the house, but that doesn’t mean your dog is totally out of harm’s way. If you’re storing medications or jewelry in a dresser, make sure that drawers are securely closed to keep pets safe from poisoning and choking. For your own sake, it may make sense to keep your favorite shoes and other beloved articles of clothing in places that puppies can’t reach.
How to Dog Proof Your Bathroom
It won’t surprise you to learn that your bathroom is full of irritating and poisonous chemicals. There’s a reason you keep these cleansers and soaps out of children’s reach and put on gloves before using them. These chemicals are all-around hazardous and should never be stored where pets can access them or used while pets are nearby. Also, avoid keeping medications on the sink where pets can reach them. Aggressive chewers may eat through closed pill bottles and end up overdosing on prescriptions or vitamins.
Thirsty pets may also be tempted to take a drink from the toilet. This is worse than just gross, it can expose your pet to harmful bacteria, as well as toxic cleaning chemicals. Toilets, sinks, and tubs may even present drowning risks for small-breed dogs who are left unattended.
Dog Proof Your Laundry Room
Detergents, bleach, dryer sheets, and other common laundry room chemicals all present poisoning risks. Even laundry — a stray sock, for example — can pose a choking hazard or lead to intestinal blockages if swallowed. Don’t forget to check inside your washing machine and dryer before closing the door and starting a cycle. The insides of these machines can make an appealing perch for cats and small-breed dogs. To avoid any mishaps, keep them closed whenever you’re not around and never forget to check and double-check.
Dog Proofing Your Yard
Your new dog will marvel at the sight of a yard to run and play in, but don’t forget that the great outdoors present their own share of perils. First and foremost, dogs should never be left unattended in unfenced yards. Pet parents should remember to check fences for gaps or holes where dogs might make a break for it. If escapes are considered a serious risk, you may want to have your dog microchipped and registered for an extra level of security.
Keep your yard clear of sharp objects like rakes and gardening tools, which could cause injuries to a dog’s vulnerable paw pads. Don’t forget to talk to your veterinarian about the pest populations in your region. Depending on where you live, ticks and mosquitoes could present an everyday risk. Your vet can help you plan an appropriate pest prevention regimen to keep your dog safe from infection during high-risk seasons and all year round. It may also make sense to familiarize yourself with venomous snakes in your region.
Unsafe Plants for Dogs
Pet owners with green thumbs need to make sure their hobby isn’t putting their pet at risk with poisonous plants like these:
- Aloe vera
- American holly
- Baby’s breath
- Sago palms
If you’re planting these in your garden or keeping them in the house, never let pets sniff them unobserved. Just a few bites can cause symptoms ranging from oral irritation to liver damage. Using fertilizer to promote a healthy garden? Many of the same chemicals that keep plants healthy and free of pests can make gardens unsafe for dogs.
No pet parent is perfect. Even thorough pet proofing can’t eliminate every household hazard and keep every dog totally safe from harm. What is possible is taking quick action during pet health emergencies and consistently practicing responsible pet parenthood to reduce accident and injury risks.