By Dr. Becker
Bringing a new pet into the family is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful. There’s so much to remember and do to make your new animal companion’s homecoming a joyful and positive experience, it can be easy to overlook something – even something potentially hazardous.
If you’re planning to add a new dog to your household, preparation for the blessed event should include insuring your home is a safe environment for the new four-legged family member. With a new puppy this is a must, but it’s also crucial for helping an adult dog make a safe, smooth transition to his new forever home.
10 Pet-Proofing Steps for New Dog Parents
- Securely seal all containers of household cleaning products such as bleach, detergent, dryer sheets, soap, bathroom cleaners, oven cleaners, etc. All these products contain potentially toxic agents that can harm or even kill your dog if consumed. Store all containers out of reach of your pet (which might require cabinet latches if you have an especially curious or determined dog).
Also consider getting rid of toxic cleaning chemicals in favor of safe household cleaners.
- You’ll also want to secure all garage and garden chemicals, including antifreeze, pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, weed killers, etc. These items should be safely stowed in cabinets or storage areas inaccessible to your dog.
When it comes to using chemicals in your garden or yard, less is more -- and none at all is what I recommend. Lawn pesticides have been linked to malignant lymphoma in dogs, and herbicides are associated with canine bladder cancer.
- Food wraps like aluminum foil and plastic wrap may not seem dangerous, but if they contain even tiny bits of food or yummy smells, they’ll be calling your dog’s name. These products can be quickly shredded and swallowed, causing a serious problem in your dog’s GI tract, so make sure to throw all food wraps away in a trash container your dog can’t reach.
- All pest control chemicals should be stored out of your dog’s reach, and if you must use them, make sure your pet is kept a safe distance away. This also includes rodenticides, especially products containing bromethalin, which has no antidote at this time. Other rodent poisons with no known antidote include Vitamin D analogs, strychnine, and zinc phosphide.
- Keep all drugs in the household, including pet medications, medicinal marijuana, and tobacco products in sealed containers out of your dog’s reach. Common over-the-counter and prescription drugs are the culprits in thousands of pet poisonings each year. Also be careful to quickly retrieve any pills that drop on the floor.
- There are certain human foods that are toxic to dogs, for example, chocolate, grapes, raisins, and anything containing xylitol, which should be kept out of your pet’s reach. This also goes for fatty foods that can cause GI upset, or even acute pancreatitis. Also make sure your dog doesn’t have access to the trash.
- There are several household plants that are toxic to dogs, so before you bring your new addition through the door, make sure you have only pet-friendly greenery in your home. You can find a list (with pictures) of toxic and non-toxic plants at ASPCA.org.
- Puppies and even some adult dogs will chew on electrical wires and cords within their reach, which creates a danger of electrocution as well as a swallowing hazard. Keep cords as short as possible and if necessary, fasten them to walls and/or baseboards to prevent chewing.
- There are lots of sharp objects around most homes, such as scissors, knives, forks, paper clips, nails, thumbtacks, etc. Any of these items can cause harm to your dog if she ingests them, steps on them, or comes in contact with a sharp object as she’s playing or running through the house.
Just as you would with a toddler, make sure anything sharp or pointed is well out of your dog’s reach.
- Home repair and renovation products, for example, insulation can cause serious internal problems if swallowed, so if you’re in the middle of a project around the house, make sure not to leave materials lying around that could harm your pet.