Dog-Proofing a Home – A Quick Guide for Humans
It is not enough that you give your dog nutritious food or take him to the vet on a regular basis.
The combination of your new dog’s innate curiosity and lack of proper preparation in your home can lead to dire consequences for your pet.
Many new dog owners are unaware that simple things that you find lying around in a typical home can cause harm, or worse, even death in canines.
Fortunately, you do not have to spend too much time or effort to doggie-proofing your home. Think of this whole endeavour as something similar to baby-proofing your home: ensuring that your pet is safe and well in and around your property.
Your pet may ignore some of the common household hazards lying around your home. And unlike cats, there are several areas that a dog cannot reach. But if you want to keep your pet healthy and safe and prevent an unexpected trip to the vet, err on the side of caution.
In pet-proofing your house, there is one general rule to follow: keep hazardous food, toxic plants, and medicines away from your furry pal.
Here are a few areas in your home that you need to pay close attention to when you are pet-proofing it.
Lounge and common areas
Among all the areas in your home, the living room and other common areas probably have the least amount of potential hazards for your four-legged family members. That, however, does not mean that you should be complacent.
One potential hazard that you should look into carefully is the fireplace. The flames and flying embers can hurt dogs and other pets. Install a screen that will act as a protective barrier between your dog and the fireplace. Keep firestarter sticks away from your curious pet.
Next, check for visible wires and cords that your canine can inadvertently chew on. These pose an electrocution risk for your dog. As much as possible, hide wires and cables. Or at the very least, cover these.
Look for small things that can be choking hazards for your pet. Ordinary things that you might otherwise think are safe can choke a dog. These include your kids’ toys.
After that, examine your doors and windows. Some dogs have the ability to go through these without you even noticing. It’s either you keep these closed permanently or install a protective screen. It is okay to keep windows or doors open if these lead to your lawn where you are assured that your pet will remain safe.
The smell of your cooking and ingredient preparation can lure your pet toward the kitchen, enamoured with the promise of a tasty treat.
Unfortunately, some common ingredients and food items are toxic to dogs. These include grapes, chocolates, onions, garlic, and coffee. Store these in an area which your pet cannot reach.
Also, watch out where you place your kitchen implements, especially sharp knives.
If you want to keep your dog out of the kitchen while you are cooking or when you are outside your home, consider installing a gate which will act as a formidable barrier.
And no matter how adorable your dog looks, do not get into the habit of giving him table scraps. Not only can this habit lead to obesity and other health problems. You might provide him with food that contains harmful ingredients that can compromise his health and wellbeing.
If you are planning on letting your pet sleep inside your bedroom, there are a few things that you should store properly. These include shoes, jewellery, and hair accessories that your dog can chew or swallow.
One thing that you should try to avoid using or store properly are mothballs. These are extremely toxic to dogs.
Bathroom and laundry areas
These rooms are the default repository for some of the most toxic items to dogs. These include detergents, cleansers, and medicines.
Some types of medicines formulated for humans can be toxic to pets. Keep these away from your dog and never give any of these to cure your dog’s condition. Also, do not give a medicine formulated for another animal to your pet, unless you are instructed by your vet. These include flea and tick control medication.
You also need to make sure that towels, socks, handkerchiefs, and other small articles of clothing are out of reach. Because of their small size, your dog can easily swallow any of these. When that happens, your dog can face gastrointestinal issues.
As much as possible, you should also keep water containers properly sealed. A small amount of water, if left uncovered, can drown a small animal.
Make it a habit to keep your appliances, including washing machines and dryers, closed when not in use so as not to tempt your pet to get inside of these.
A typical garage and basement are full of various things that you store for one reason or another. Ideally, you should keep your pet away from these parts of your home.
However, a lot of things can happen, especially when your pet becomes curious or anxious when you are outside. Err on the side of caution and store hazardous stuff out of his reach, especially small items and household chemicals.
Spending time outdoors with your pet is an excellent way to train him and reinforce the bond between you. But just like any other part inside your home, outdoor areas and features like your lawn and swimming pool may contain pet hazards hiding in plain sight.
One of the most common hazards for pets in outdoor areas are plants as well as the tools and products you use in your garden. “These include fertilizers, insecticides, compost, and mulches. Make sure that these are stored correctly in a shed, out of reach from your dog.
If you have a balcony, check the railings. Your dog, especially if it’s a small breed, can get stuck between these.
Pools, jacuzzis, spas, and ponds are drowning hazards. Even if your dog knows how to swim, it can still drown. Do not allow your pet to get into any of these unless you supervise him. Better yet, invest in either a cover or a fence for any of these.
These water features entail the use of some chemicals. These should be stored in an area that your canine cannot reach.
An essential task
Pet-proofing your home is an integral part of being a responsible pet owner. Fortunately, you do not have to do a lot of things to make that sure that your home is a safe haven for your animal companion.
All you have to do is to be mindful of the little things that you would have otherwise ignored and left lying around in your home.
An average home is full of hazards to pets, ranging from wires and cords to toys and accessories. With ample preparation, you can keep your pet safe and you can attain peace of mind knowing that you have done your best to prepare for the arrival of the newest member of your household.
Put yourself in your pet’s shoes (or paws) and make a thorough inventory of potential hazards in your home and do your best to eliminate or hide these from your curious pet. You and your dog will thank you for that later on.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.