Preparing Your Home

posted: 05/15/12
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Many rooms hold a world of mystery and temptation for dogs.
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The kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and even family room hold a world of mystery and temptation for any dog--there's always something to do. But while gnawing on the sofa cushions is a relatively harmless canine pursuit, despite the sure scolding from his human companions, chewing on or otherwise investigating other household objects may prove to be deadly.





Kitchen Hazards:

  • Sharp cooking and cleaning utensils
  • Poisonous detergents
  • Sharp aluminum cans
  • Choking and suffocation hazards such as discarded chicken bones and plastic bags
  • Shattered glass or dish


  • Lock cabinets where plastic bags and detergents are stored.
  • Keep cutlery and dishes away from a dog's access.
  • Hide garbage bags out of sight.
  • Be vigilant about cleaning up messes.
  • Teach your dog to keep out of the kitchen--or any room--at your command to allow you the time to clean up breakages and spills.

Family Room, Dining Room and Bedroom Hazards:

  • All hold the allure and danger of loose electrical, curtain and blind cords.


  • Anything that should be kept from a child's hands should also be bundled, stored or tied beyond a dog's access.
  • Use cayenne pepper spray or any bitter tasting or foul-smelling repellent available at pet stores to make certain areas less than tempting for your dog (to train him to stay off couches and beds).
  • Use a nylon chew toy or wet, knotted towel left overnight in the freezer to provide soothing relief for a teething puppy.
  • Never buy toys and treats in the shape of shoes or clothes.
  • Don't use old clothes or shoes as toys.
  • Use latex, nylon, hard plastic and rawhide chew toys and bones.

Bathroom Hazards:

  • Medications
  • Air fresheners
  • Personal-care products
  • Open toilet seat


  • Keep all medications, air fresheners and personal-care products out of a dog's way.
  • Keep the lid down on the toilet when you aren't around (smaller dogs may fall in). Also, most toilet tank fresheners are poisonous, so remove them, find a pet-friendly product or keep the lid closed altogether.

Garage Hazards:

  • Paint
  • Chemicals
  • Motor oil
  • Sharp tools
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Many plants, including tulips, are toxic to dogs.
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It's not easy being green. Plants may be a tempting, tasty treat for dogs, but chewed vegetation is the bane of any proud gardener's existence. Worse, many indoor and outdoor plants are toxic to dogs. Either make sure that your houseplants are not harmful, or keep them high up, out of reach. Garden plants to avoid include potatoes and spring bulbs; among the indoor hazards are ivy and azaleas.

When walking outdoors, keep your dog on a leash and close to you to more easily monitor what he's getting into. Avoid areas that have been sprayed with insecticides or other poisons. (Lawn-care companies usually plant small warning flags in freshly treated areas.)

Toxic Greenery

Make the choices simple for your pet: keep the harmful plants listed below out of your house and garden. This list is not an exhaustive one, so always double-check with your vet; some toxic plants may be particular to your area.

A dog's reaction to ingesting a toxic plant can be fairly mild, or the dog may become dehydrated, suffer from diarrhea or even die. If your pet has eaten some dangerous greenery, contact your vet immediately.

  • algae
  • almonds
  • amaryllis
  • apricots
  • arrowhead vine
  • asparagus fern
  • autumn crocus
  • azalea
  • blackberry
  • black-eyed Susan
  • black nightshade
  • bleeding heart
  • boxwood
  • bracken or brake fern
  • buckeye
  • buttercups
  • cactus (spines)
  • caladium
  • calla lily
  • castor beans
  • ceriman
  • charming dieffenbachia
  • cherry
  • Chinese evergreen
  • chokecherry
  • Christmas rose
  • chrysanthemum
  • cineraria
  • clematis
  • climbing nightshade
  • cordatum
  • corn plant
  • cornstalk plant
  • crabgrass
  • crocus
  • croton
  • crown of thorns
  • Cuban laurel
  • Cuban laurel
  • daffodil
  • devil's ivy
  • dumb cane
  • Easter lily
  • elderberry
  • elephant's ear
  • emerald feather
  • peace lily
  • English holly
  • ecalyptus
  • glory lily
  • foxglove
  • fiddle-leaf fig
  • gold dust dracaena
  • helleborus
  • hemlock
  • holly berries
  • hyacinth
  • hydr- angea
  • iris
  • ivy
  • jack-in-the-pulpit
  • Japanese show lily
  • jasmine
  • Jerusalem cherry
  • jonquil
  • kalanchoe
  • laburnum
  • lantana
  • larkspur
  • ligustrum
  • lily of the valley
  • marble queen
  • marijuana
  • mistletoe
  • monkshood
  • morning glory
  • mushrooms
  • narcissus
  • nephthytis
  • nettles
  • nutmeg
  • oleander
  • onion
  • oriental lily
  • peach
  • pencil cactus
  • periwinkle
  • philodendron
  • plumosa fern
  • poinsettia
  • poison hemlock
  • poison ivy
  • poison oak
  • pokeweed
  • potato
  • precatory beans
  • primrose
  • privet
  • purple foxglove
  • red emerald
  • red princess
  • rhododendron
  • rhubarb
  • rubber plants
  • sago lily
  • skunk cabbage
  • spider plant
  • spring bulbs
  • tulip
  • tomato plant
  • tobacco
  • tinsel tree
  • string of pearls
  • tiger lily
  • taro vine
  • Swiss cheese plant
  • wandering Jew
  • water hemlock
  • wild black cherry
  • wisteria
  • yellow jasmine
  • yew
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Unless you know that a product is safe, treat it as a potential poison.
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Not all products that are poisonous to a dog are labeled as toxic. And some things that are safe for humans, such as medications and onions, can be deadly for your pet. Your dog doesn't necessarily have to eat or drink something to ingest it. Whatever his paws or body come into contact with can be swallowed when he is grooming himself. Unless you know that a product is safe, treat it as a potential poison. Store it in a tightly sealed container in a securely closed cabinet, preferably out of your dog's reach and line of sight. Post the phone numbers of your vet, an emergency vet clinic, and an animal poison control center. If your dog shows signs of poisoning, such as trouble breathing, seizures, a rapid or slow heartbeat, drowsiness, drooling, or bleeding from the anus, mouth or nose, try to determine exactly what substance he ingested and call for help. If you have the offending product, the package may contain vital information; have it on hand for the call and take it with you to the vet. Keep a supply of syrup of ipecac, but do not make your dog vomit unless you are advised to do so. in some cases, regurgitation can worsen the problem; caustic substances can burn your dog's throat and mouth on the way back up.

The following list gives an idea of the sorts of dangerous products that must be kept out of the reach of your dog's curious paws, nose or tongue. Along with the basic principles of dog-proofing, this list should enable you to make your house safer for your canine friend.

Toxic Products

  • acetaminophen
  • acetone
  • ant/bug traps and baits
  • anti-flea treatments
  • antifreeze
  • antihistamines
  • anti-rust agents
  • antiseptics
  • arsenic
  • aspirin (ASA)
  • bath oil
  • battery acid
  • bleach
  • boric acid
  • brake fluid
  • carbolic acid (phenol)
  • carburetor cleaner
  • chocolate (especially dark or bitter types)
  • cleaning products
  • crayons and pastels
  • dandruff shampoo
  • de-icers (to melt snow)
  • deodorants
  • deodorizers
  • detergents
  • diet pills
  • disinfectants
  • drain cleaner and opener
  • dry-cleaning fluid
  • dyes
  • fertilizer
  • fire-extinguisher foam
  • fireworks
  • fungicides
  • furniture polish
  • gasoline and motor oil
  • glue and paste
  • hair coloring
  • heart pills
  • herbicides
  • ibuprofen
  • insect and moth repellents
  • insecticides/pesticides
  • kerosene
  • laxatives
  • lead (also found in paint, ceramic and linoleum)
  • lighter fluid
  • liniments
  • lye
  • matches
  • medications
  • mercury
  • metal polish
  • mineral spirits
  • mothballs and repellents
  • nail polish and remover
  • onions
  • pain relievers
  • paint
  • paint remover and thinner
  • perfume
  • permanent-wave lotion
  • photographic developers
  • pine-based cleaners
  • pine-oil products
  • plaster and putty
  • rat/rodent poisons
  • road salt
  • rubbing alcohol
  • rust remover
  • shoe dye and polish
  • sleeping pills
  • snail or slug bait
  • soap and shampoo
  • solder
  • solvents (e.g. turpentine)
  • stain removers
  • swimming pool products
  • suntan lotion with cocoa butter
  • toilet bowl cleaners
  • weed killers
  • windshield-washer fluid
  • wood preservatives
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A fence around your yard can protect your pet from harm.
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A fence around your yard not only keeps passersby safe, it also protects your furry friends from harm. The gate should be sturdy, high enough to keep jumping dogs in, low enough to the ground to keep small or digging dogs secure, and should have a lock.

You may want to try one of the newer electronic "invisible fences," sensors are buried at the borders of the lawn, and a special battery-powered collar around your dog's neck emits a slight shock when he approaches the predetermined boundary. It's relatively painless, and your dog quickly learns when he's gone too far.

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Having the right tools in case of emergency can save your dog's life.
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Being prepared in case of emergency can save your dog's life. You can find most of the following items for your canine first-aid kit in drugstores, or simply add the appropriate items to your family's first-aid kit to serve both human and dog members.

  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Penlight flashlight
  • Magnifying glass (type with light is best)
  • Examination gloves
  • Rectal thermometer and lubricant
  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol (70%)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3%)
  • Povidone iodine
  • Antibiotic ointment (neomycin, polymixin, bacitracin)
  • Assorted sizes of sterile nonstick pads, gauze squares and cotton balls
  • Roller gauze (self-adhering), cotton roll and elastic bandage
  • Adhesive tape
  • Cardboard or wood for splints
  • Eyedropper and syringe (needle removed)
  • Syrup of ipecac (Caution: Only to be given on instructions by vet or poison control center and only in dosage specified)
  • Eye wash
  • Styptic pencil for cut vein in nail
  • Ice pack
  • Large blanket
  • Elizabethan collar (available for sale at many vet offices or clinics) or bitter spray to prevent licking of injury
  • Muzzle; or handkerchief, gauze strip or rope for makeshift muzzle
  • Board or towel for makeshift stretcher
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Tags and other types of identifiers increase the chances your dog will make it home if he becomes lost.
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Whether you choose plastic or engraved metal, a wide range of ID tags is available to go on the collar, along with the rabies vaccination tag and dog license. Although it may seem natural to include your dog's name on the ID tag, this may make it easier for thieves to coax him away.

Dog Tag Essential Information

  • Name and address
  • One or two reliable telephone numbers with answering machines
  • A line that reads: "Reward for return" When you're traveling with your dog, buy replaceable key tags and list your name and a number where you can be reached at each leg of your tour.

If you're considering a more permanent means of identifying your dog (since collars can come off or be removed by thieves), you can choose tattoos or microchips. Relatively painless, a tattoo can be done by your vet while your dog is under anesthesia. Or, your vet can implant a microchip into your dog's skin by injecting it between his shoulder blades.

Many shelters, vets and even medical labs will check for tattoos and run a scanner over unidentified dogs to check for a microchip, then contact the national registry where your dog's number is on file. Since microchips have been introduced, shelters have been able to return a significantly higher number of dogs to their owners than they'd been able to through collars alone. Of course, sometimes the tattoo can't be easily read, the scanner-if there is one at all-may not be compatible with the microchip, or your dog may be found by a person unfamiliar with these systems, who simply wants to phone the owner. Err on the side of caution: Always keep a collar on your dog if he's outside or if there's a chance he might slip out of the house.

Recent photos of your dog will further ensure that you can always identify him. Include some shots that clearly show his face, some that show his entire body, and some that focus on his identifying features. You may think you'd always be able to recognize him, but a scared or disturbed dog can take on a whole different look and fool both you and any animal shelter worker to whom you're describing him.

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