Following are some things that I’ve learned through the years that can be deadly to a dog. Most of us are keenly aware that there are a number of plants that are poisonous to dogs
and human foods that dogs cannot eat
. But there are a number of other very common, everyday things that many would not ever think of as being harmful to dogs. Since each of these is a common object or occurrence in our day-to-day lives with dogs, consider these a few things that you may simply need to modify a bit in order to keep things safe for your dog around the house…
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- Placement of mousetraps. Rodent poisons and insecticides are one of the most common sources of pet poisoning. For this reason, you’ll have to strategically place any mouse traps or other bait you use to catch cockroaches, ants, or other insects in & around your home. If possible, try to place your traps in small, tight spaces where you dog cannot reach. Also important: make sure your dog cannot “paw” the trap by reaching really far! One way to help deter pets from playing with mousetraps is to place the traps inside a small brown paper sack before you place them around the house. This also makes the trap more inviting for the mouse (small, dark spaces), and makes clean-up a breeze!
- The type of mulch you choose. Mulch containing theobromine is poisonous to animals. The most common is called cocoa bean mulch. Most dogs are attracted by the smell of fresh mulch… some view it as a tasty treat, while others love to dig in mulched areas.More about dogs & mulch
- De-icers lingering on a dog’s paws. In the wintertime, after walking your dog on streets or sidewalks where de-icing salts have been used to melt snow and ice, you will need to wipe your dog’s paws to remove any trace of the de-icing chemicals. De-icers are paw irritants that can be poisonous if licked off. Your best bet is to use a pet-safe de-icer around your own home, and/or try some dog boots, like Muttlucks.
- Play things with lots of parts. Toys with removable parts (squeaky toys, or stuffed animals with plastic eyes, and ribbons) can pose a choking hazard to your dog. Be sure to take the time to remove any potentially dangerous parts before giving a new toy to your dog — even if this means that the toy has to be practically de-faced. Trust me, your dog doesn’t care what a chew toy or a play toy looks like! Along these same lines, the material used to stuff toys can also be a choking hazard to dogs. Be sure to manually remove all the stuffing if/when your dog first tears into a stuffed toy.
- The type of bones you give your dog. Even doggie-approved rawhide dog chews can pose a danger to your pet because, when it’s chewed, rawhide breaks off into smaller pieces. If your dog swallows a smaller piece, it could get lodged in his throat, stomach, or intestines. You should always purchase dog chews that are sized appropriately for your pet and — most importantly — always supervise your pet whenever he’s chewing anything. The safest bones of all are the “real” bones you get from a butcher — they don’t splinter or break off as easily.
- Believe it or not, even balls can be deadly! You should only allow your dog to play with a ball that’s the size of a tennis ball when you’re there to supervise. Why? Because dogs can choke on tennis-ball sized balls … even tennis balls! When unsupervised, our dogs are only given balls that will not even come close to fitting in their mouths (soccer balls, basketballs, footballs). Also, dogs who like to chew a lot can chew right through a tennis ball if unsupervised, and those smaller parts can cause blockages. Lastly, balls with slippery outer coatings like racquet balls and golf balls should be off limits to dogs of any size.
- Rocks. They look innocent enough, but rocks can be deadly to dogs if they’re swallowed. For that reason, if your dog likes to chew rocks, you should never leave him unsupervised in the yard alone. If at all possible, you should try to divert your dog’s attention from chewing on rocks to chewing on a dog toy instead. You never know… Sometimes, the rocks can be surgically removed from a dog’s intestines. Other times, chewing on rocks could be deadly.
- Your grill’s location. It wasn’t until recently when we were outside grilling that I noticed our dog’s long, fluffy tail stands taller than the top of the grill itself. I quickly realized that this could become a problem if he were sniffing around the grill (looking for dropped food pieces or licking random grease splatters) and his tail brushed along the back of the grill and touched the flames themselves! (Our grill has a grate-type backing to allow air in & out of the grilling area. This area is clearly wide enough for the dog’s tail to pass through.)
- Sticks. While they’re fun for fetching, they can also cause a bit of distress in your dog’s intestinal tract, or become deadly thanks to their sharp edges. When I worked at the vet, a good number of the dogs that came in suffering from diarrhea were known stick-chewers. Sticks are usually loaded with dirt & bacteria, and sometimes it just doesn’t agree with your dog’s system. We frequently sent dogs home with a prescription for metronidazole to clear up the problem. Another problem with sticks: they’re sharp and pointy. Entire sticks, or bits & pieces, can get lodged in a dog’s mouth or throat. This can occur during a simple game of fetch, so beware.
- Holes & cracks in the backyard. Even if you have a fenced in yard, there are a number of ways that your dog could get himself in a bind in your own yard. A curious dog can get trapped in small, tight areas such as a crawlspace beneath a deck or an opening behind the air conditioning unit. To eliminate the possibility, simply fence off the hazardous areas with chicken wire. Or, do what we do and use some of that decorative fencing used to trim garden areas, trees, and other areas.
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