Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Is Your Home Safe for Your Dog?

By Linda Cole

We don't view our homes the same way our dogs do. They see every little button or tack hiding among the dust bunnies under the bed, and they’re always finding things that have fallen on the floor or that we forgot to pick up. Having a pet means constantly looking around the home to make sure your dog doesn't find something that could be harmful to him if he ate or drank it. We think our home is safe for our pets because it's safe for us, but that’s not always the case. Is your home safe for your dog?

We already know how important it is to make sure we've pet proofed the house, inside and out. But even that doesn't guarantee your dog won't find something potentially dangerous for them. Dogs are experts at finding things in and around the home. Small sticks are fun to chew and play with, but a stick in the mouth of a running dog can be dangerous – he can ram it down his throat if he runs into another dog or the ground.

Dogs pick up anything that looks interesting. To keep your home safe for your dog, look at it from their perspective. The garage, basement or back porch are great places to store things, but a dog can quickly find something they shouldn't have. Watch out for spilled antifreeze, opened bottles of antifreeze, oil, transmission fluid, windshield cleaner, stored gas, car batteries, grass clippings from the lawn mower, handsaws, hand tools, string, rope, electrical cords, small tacks, nails, screws or anything that might catch your dog's attention.

Keep your home safe for your dog by making sure knives, forks, potato peelers, dropped food, dropped medications (liquid and pills), dish detergent, all types of soap, cleaning products, drain cleaners, batteries, spices, food, candy, alcohol and gum are all safely stored away from prying noses.

Even if you think your dog is past the chewing stage, don't leave remote controls where your dog can get them. I made the mistake of leaving my TV remote on the coffee table one day. My 10 year old dog was apparently bored and my poor remote was never the same after an afternoon of being chewed on. Dogs will also chew on batteries if they fall out of the remote. The average dog bites at around 200 to 500 pounds of pressure per square inch, and big dogs have a bite pressure even higher.

Many things dogs find on the floor or under the couch or kitchen counter can be harmful to them if swallowed or chewed. Rubber bands, needles (some still attached to thread), string, yarn, balloons, small toys, small balls, clothing, mothballs, Q-Tips, diet pills, cigarette butts, antacid tablets, medications, push pins, paper clips, tacks, nails, jewelry and food often find their way to the floor without us knowing about it.

Paper shredders are a new danger for pets. Make your home safe for your dog by unplugging your shredder when it's not in use. Shredders left on automatic will start to run if the dog or cat licks it. It's unknown if pets lick the shredder because of the smell of the metal or because they smell their owner's scent on the shredder. Veterinarians have seen an increase in pets injured when their tongues become caught in a shredder that started up when they licked it. Some of the injuries have been severe and some dogs have had to have damaged portions of their tongues removed as well as multiple stitches. The best way to prevent accidental shredding of your pet’s tongue is to make sure the shredder is unplugged.

Poisons used to eradicate snails, ants, mice and rats can be found by an inquisitive dog. Most dogs will check out the bait if they find it, and some dogs will try to eat it. Traps not only catch rats and mice, but can catch your dog as well. Make sure poisons, ink cartridges and toners are safely stored away.

No matter how clean we try to keep our homes, things end up on the floor by accident. We need to be aware of what we have in the home that could be dangerous for our pets. They will play with, chew on and consume what they find on the floor or anywhere in the home if they can reach it. Keep your home safe for your dog by seeing it as they do. If in doubt, put it away in a cabinet, drawer or under the sink. Your pet's safety depends on you seeing what they see.

Read more articles by Linda Cole


  1. I always hate reading stories about dogs and other pets being injured by the paper shredder. There is no reason for it. I know its always and "oversight" but shredders should always be unplugged when not being used, especially if there are kids or pets around. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, you can read my blog entry at "Shredders and Dogs."

  2. Good tips!

    According to ASPCA, human medications are the number one poison for pets (see )

    Also: millions of pets are exposed every day to a known carcinogen, secondhand smoke. There is now research that shows secondhand smoke is a cancer risk for pets ( ) So if you smoke, take it outside, away from your pet.


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