When you bring a dog home for the first time, it is important that you take a look around your house and determine which things you need to move, or close, or place higher up on shelves or tuck away behind doors.
You need to puppyproof your home now that you’ve got tails & tongues to watch out for… plus, four playful paws that can turn virtually anything into a toy!
Aside from the typical poisonous plants, antifreeze, and chocolate that we dog owners hear so much about, there are a number of far more common household dangers that dog owners should also be aware of.
Here are some other household dangers you should consider…
Some of these I’ve learned firsthand. Others, I’ve witnessed while working at the vet, or read about from dog owners whose dogs were hurt or killed as a result of these common everyday household dangers.
Things To Move Or Keep Higher Up On Shelves:
- Plants — some of which might be poisonous. (Here are the Top 10 common household plants that are poisonous to pets.)
- Candles — especially when lit, the flames can appear fun to play with to a dog. Don’t overlook the fact that your dog’s tail could easily brush past the flame of a candle, and set your dog on fire!
- Anything in the way of windows — so your dog can look out & see what’s going on (you should move them before he moves them for you… our floor lamp almost got broken this way).
- Glass jars & bottles — so your dog doesn’t knock them off a counter, a ledge, or a table (maybe even with his tail).
- Pill bottles & pill organizers — a dog can easily chew open a childproof container, and human medications such as painkillers, cold medicines, vitamins, diet pills are all toxic to animals.
- Decorative items & knick-knacks — it’s all fair game when it comes time to sniff around and explore & you don’t want anything valuable broken (or knocked on the floor by a powerful tail!) You could also use baby gates or other homemade barriers to separate your dog from your precious valuables.
- Hair dryers & curling irons — if you leave them “on” and resting on the counter, your dog’s paws or tail could get tangled in the cords resulting in a burn or strangulation.
Mothballs, tobacco products, pennies (those minted after 1982 contain zinc) and alkaline batteries (like those in your remote controls) can also be hazardous when ingested. – American Veterinary Medical Association
- String, yarn, sewing thread, rubber bands, dental floss — if swallowed, “stringy” items such as these can cause intestinal blockages or even strangulations. Internally, strings (yes, even those chewed off a rope toy for dogs!) can tighten around themselves or other internal organs and cause serious damage.
- Electrical cords — wandering puppies can inadvertently find themselves tangled in one or more cords lying on the floor or hanging from a desk or table. For that reason, you should try to tame the cord clutter at work stations throughout the house, and “hide” cords under baseboards & carpet seams whenever possible. A dog can suffer burns or electrocution from chewing on live cords. To prevent this, use cord covers and blocking access to all wires inside your home.
- Soaps & other personal care supplies — things like bath & hand soaps, toothpaste and sunblocks should also be kept away from your dog. They can cause stomach upset, vomiting or diarrhea if ingested. (FYI: you should only use dog-toothpaste when brushing your dog’s teeth.)
- Paper shredders — either keep your paper shredder up high on a desk or shelf, or keep it unplugged when not in use. This may seem like an inconvenience, but just think of the number of times your dog walks past that shredder. If a dog’s tail brushes past the blades, it could activate the auto-on mechanism. Just the same, dogs like to lick things. One lick of the top of the shredder and…. well, you don’t want this to happen to your dog’s tongue!
WARNING: Here’s a graphic example of what can happen to a dog’s tongue when caught in the paper shredder.
Things To Keep Securely Closed:
- The toilet seat lid — curious puppies (and thirsty ones too!) can become fascinated by the water, fall in and drown. Odds are, you’ll forget and leave the toilet lid up more than once… for that reason, you should avoid using any sanitizing toilet products (you know, the ones that make your water a pretty blue, or sparkling clear).
- Garbage pails — your best bet is to get dog-friendly trash cans… OR place all your trash cans behind cabinet doors… OR use a very tall pail with a securely closing lid. Dogs are champs at finding ways to get at food scraps and garbage …smelly or not. Our dog has a reputation for pulling out the shredded paper from our (unplugged) paper shredder bin.
- Windows & doors — a dog can slip out an unlatched door, or a loose window screen in a heartbeat.
Here are some other ways you’ll want to modify your window blinds, curtains and door latches with a dog in the house.
Things To Keep Behind Closed Doors:
- Potato chips & other snack foods — before you had a dog, these might have normally been left on the counters, lower shelves, or other places around the house. Depending on the size of your dog (or her jumping abilities), the counter may not be a safe place either.
- Leftover foods — especially poultry… chicken bones can wreak havoc on a dog.
- Prescription bottles — dogs can bite into a plastic bottle and crack it open in no time.
- Cleaning products & chemicals — anti-freeze and pesticides are a given, but don’t overlook the everyday products used to keep your house clean and fresh smelling!
Paint thinners, mineral spirits, and other solvents are dangerous and can cause severe irritation or chemical burns if swallowed or if they come in contact with your pet’s skin. While most latex house paints typically produce a minor stomach upset, some types of artist’s or other specialty paints may contain heavy metals or volatile substances that could become harmful if inhaled or ingested. – American Veterinary Medical Association
Check out this video from the ASPCA: “Tips For Making Your Home Safe For Your Pet”.
Here’s another ASPCA video: “Keeping Your Yard & Garage Area Safe”.