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Protect Your Dog From Common Household Dangers

basic canine care

As a pet parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your pet's home environment is safe and free from harm.

How to recognize danger:

When you look around your house, you may think that everything looks perfectly safe. But you and your dog may have very different views on what could be a toy or a tasty snack. When you dog-proof your house, try to see it from your dog's perspective. Hunker down to the height of your dog's line of sight and take a look at what your dog sees. Look around for any hidden dangers that your dog may get into. Simply use common sense and take the same precautions as you would with a child.

Common chemical dangers:

Most of us have homes with many different types of toxic chemicals used for cleaning.

Chemical poisoning most commonly occurs when dogs:

  • Drink a tainted substance
  • Clean a toxic substance from their fur
  • Eat a poisoned pest
  • Drink from a toilet that contains cleaning agents
  • Ingest household cleaning agents
  • Eat air fresheners

Some items to watch out for include:

  • Antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol, which has a sweet taste that attracts animals but is deadly if consumed
  • Chemicals used on lawns and gardens, such as fertilizer, weed preventives and plant food
  • Rodent poisons and insecticides are one of the most common sources of poisoning
  • De-icing salts used to melt snow and ice are paw irritants that can be poisonous if licked off

Common food dangers:

A dog's body is quite different from humans. Food items that are beneficial to a human can be toxic to dogs.

  • Chocolate, grapes, raisins and alcohol are toxic to dogs
  • Human medication, such as painkillers, cold medicines, vitamins, diet pills and others, can all be toxic to animals
  • Leftovers such as chicken bones easily shatter and can stab or choke a dog
  • Rawhide doggie chews may have larger pieces that break off and can be swallowed
  • Always purchase chews that are sized appropriately for your pet and supervise while in use

Common household item dangers:

Objects that seem harmless can become a danger to your dog if used improperly or accidentally ingested. Some common items that can be hazardous include:

  • String, yarn, rubber bands, coins and even dental floss are easy to swallow and can cause intestinal blockages or strangulations
  • Toys with removable parts (squeaky toys, stuffed animals with plastic eyes and ribbons) can pose a choking hazard to your dog
  • Balls can be deadly if they are too small for the dog that is playing with them, and balls with slippery outer coatings (racquet balls, golf balls) can be an especially potent choking hazard
  • Stuffed toys, if ingested, can be dangerous
  • Ornamental plants that are poisonous to animals

Household safety checklist inside the home:

  • All doors, including patio entrances, are closed
  • Pet doors are the right size and close properly
  • Dangerous food, such as chocolate, is out of reach
  • Medication, dietary supplements and antibiotics are safely out of reach
  • All the garbage in the house is secure and inaccessible
  • All cleaning supplies are out of reach
  • All dangerous objects are off the floor and out of reach
  • Toilet bowl lid is closed and no sanitizing flush products are in use
  • All sharp objects that might cut your dog's paws or mouth are put away
  • Childproof latches are on all cabinets containing hazardous substances so your cat can't 'slip' the latch
  • Poisonous plants have been dog-proofed or placed where your dog can't get them
  • Toys that could be dangerous if swallowed have been picked up
  • Pesticides have been placed out of reach or replaced with nontoxic substances
  • Hot stoves are covered and sharp items on kitchen counters are put away
  • Your dog has toys to chew on to help prevent chewing on electrical wiring or other dangerous objects

What to do if your dog is poisoned:

Keep a good dog emergency handbook and a first-aid kit in your home. Know how much your dog weighs, since treatments are often measured in proportion to the animal's weight.

If you think your dog has consumed any dangerous products, the first thing you must do is determine what substance is responsible. Read the product's label for the list of ingredients and for any instructions on accidental ingestion. Call your veterinarian immediately. If your pet needs to make a trip to the veterinarian, remember to take the product container in question with you to give your veterinarian a better idea of what your pet may have ingested. You can also call the National Animal Poison Control Center.

Observe your dog's symptoms carefully. If your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea, you may want to take samples to the veterinarian to help with diagnosis. The treatment will vary according to the poison, and whether it has been ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Note: The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian.

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