Anyone living with a baby or toddler knows to be vigilant about household safety hazards and takes steps to keep children safe. But as a dog owner, do you take the same care to protect your pets from common household objects? Try to see your environment from your dog’s point of view and determine what looks like a tempting plaything or snack. These everyday items may seem innocent, but they can pose a threat to your pet.
Wires and cords: Do you have a nest of cords dangling from your computer or TV and related devices? That can look like a mighty tempting plaything to a dog. And if you have a puppy or a dog that chews, he could be burned or suffer electric shock from chewing on those wires. Use a cord cover or bundle wires together with wire ties to make them less interesting to the dog. Cords dangling from a lamp or small appliance may look like ideal tug toys, and before you know it, your favorite reading light is in pieces on the floor. Try to block your dog’s access or secure wires along the wall or floor.
Cleaning products: You wouldn’t leave these out for kids; don’t leave them out for your dog, either. If they’re in an easily opened lower cabinet, try a children’s safety latch or move these products to a higher shelf. And pay attention when you’re using cleansers, whether you’re using a bucket of soapsuds for cleaning or you are mopping the floor. A curious dog may think this looks like a delicious drink.
Garbage cans: Dogs love garbage; it smells delicious and is full of yummy treats. Your trash may be filled with rotting food, chemically treated items, cleansers, sharp items, and other potential hazards. If your dog is one of those clever animals that can overturn a can or nudge open the lid, keep garbage in a closed cabinet or use a can with a locking lid. That way you will avoid coming home to a trash-strewn kitchen, and you’ll be protecting your dog from ingesting something harmful.
Small choking hazards: This could be anything: jewelry left on the nightstand, a needle and thread on the coffee table, paper clips, craft supplies, or children’s toys on the floor. These may seem like perfectly harmless everyday objects, until your curious or bored dog decides they’ll make an exotic new snack.
Open windows: Before you say we’ve gone too far, think of your dog gazing out of a wide-open, unscreened window when another dog walks by or his favorite mailman passes. That window can be an open invitation to make an escape. Be especially mindful of second-story windows, which should be closed or screened.
Nicotine: An ashtray filled with cigarette butts or a pack of cigarettes left on a table can be pure poison for your dog. Nicotine is a rapid-acting toxin that, in extreme cases, causes cardiac arrest.
Chocolate: Delicious, irresistible, and almost guaranteed to cause a trip to the vet. Don’t leave your candy bar, brownie, piece of lava cake, or any chocolate anywhere your dog can get to it.
Medication: If you’re in the habit of laying out a daily dose of pills or any other medication, it might be a habit you should break. Colorful capsules or a handful of little pills left on a nightstand, for example, can be very tempting to a dog. And be sure to keep your pill containers tucked safely away in a cabinet or drawer that is out of reach for inquisitive pups.
Houseplants: Who doesn’t love a little greenery in the house? While many houseplants are perfectly benign, some are toxic to dogs and should be either removed or placed well out of reach. These are just a few of the plants known to be poisonous for dogs:
- Dieffenbachia (commonly called Dumb Cane)
- Jade Plant
- Aloe Plant — despite all of its helpful properties when used topically, eating it will cause vomiting.
- Kalanchoe (commonly called Mother-in-Law Plant)
- Amaryllis — as pretty as it is, it’s poisonous to dogs.
You may be thinking that your dog would never be in danger from anything around the house, and you might be right; some dogs are less curious or adventurous, or have been well trained in what they can and cannot have. But many other dogs, especially puppies, will find these common household objects fascinating. And then there are the dogs with that mischievous glint in their eye that means anything within reach is fair game. In general, it’s best not to leave your beloved pet open to temptation.
None of this is to say that everything in your house needs to be on permanent lockdown or that you must exercise extreme vigilance in everything you do. But a little common sense and self-awareness can go a long way toward protecting your dog from the dangers of these everyday household items.