Your dog is part of your family. That’s why inadvertently causing your fuzzy family members harm because you weren’t aware of a common household danger would be unthinkable.
Knowing there’s a problem is half the battle, then taking steps to eliminate the problem is the rest. Because it turns out the chances are pretty high that you have items in your kitchen or your backyard that are toxic or potentially dangerous to dogs.
There’s good news, though: If you know what to look for, you can protect your four-legged friends. Danger-proof your home by identifying the dangers, then either eliminating them or ensuring they’re out-of-reach to curious little paws. Then you can rest easy, knowing that you’ve been the best pup parent you can be.
So take a deep breath. Try not to panic. Here are the 9 dangers to look out for.
- Not-So-Fun Fungi
- Hot Dogs
We are seeing the hottest temps on record all over the country. The dog days of summer can mean problems for your pooch. Factor in high humidity, and the risk of heat stroke and exhaustion rises with the temperature. Some breeds (like bulldogs and huskies, for instance) are even more at risk.
Symptoms include restlessness, panting, weakness and confusion. Heat stroke can lead to organ failure, too, so it’s no joke.
Make sure your yard has shade and that your pupper has plenty of fresh water. Better yet, bring him or her in during the hottest part of the day. If your dog must stay outside, think about giving him a kiddie pool. You’ll need to change out the water every couple of days, but many dogs love chilling in their own little backyard oasis.
- Mend Those Fences
Outdoor dogs need fences to keep them from wandering the neighborhood, but bad fences make for dangerous yards. If there are holes big enough for your roving rover to squeeze through, he or she could be gone before you know it. Even if those holes aren’t big enough for escape, they can be a source of scrapes, splinters and cuts. Make sure your yard’s boundary is impermeable and keep your dog’s mug off the milk cartons.
- Drugstore Dangers
Some medicines designed for humans are dangerous to animals, even in very small doses. Acetaminophen (in Tylenol) can harm a dog’s liver, for example.
Prescription meds can be scary, too. For example, the FDA is warning pet owners about 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), a topical medication that treats human skin cancers (including superficial basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma). It is sold under brand names including Carac, Efudex, and Fluoroplex.
If you use 5-FU, keep it well out of reach of your pets. The prognosis is grim for pets who ingest even small amounts of the cream; indeed, only a quarter of dogs will survive.
Never use any human medication for dogs without talking to your vet about it, and always keep your medicines in a cabinet your dog can’t get into.
- Growing Menace
Do you ever catch your dog eating grass or other plants? Typically this is normal, harmless behavior, but many houseplants and yard plants are bad news for animals. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea, kidney or liver failure, heart damage, and even death.
- Bar the Chocolate
Life may be like a box of chocolates, but even a nibble for a pooch could mean misery. Theobromine, a bitter alkaloid found in the cacao plant, is quickly absorbed through dogs’ gastrointestinal tracts, potentially stressing or even damaging their liver. In dark chocolate, theobromine and caffeine are even more concentrated and therefore even more of a threat. Signs of poisoning include listlessness, pain, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, lack of coordination and fever.
This isn’t just a danger lurking in your grocery store candy aisle; it may also be in the landscaping outside your door. Cocoa bean shell mulch is a popular garden product that has theobromine. As with other poisons, if you suspect your dog has been affected, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary service immediately.
- Problematic Poultry
You love your dog, but let’s be real: Sometimes his or her table manners leave a lot to be desired. If you’re in the middle of a dinner party, chances are your dog will swipe a piece of chicken from a guest’s plate as soon as nobody’s looking, right?
Unfortunately, cooked bones (particularly chicken bones) can harm your pet because they can splinter, damaging the stomach and intestines. (Raw bones do not normally splinter, by the way, which is why smoked or uncooked beef or water buffalo bones are fine.)
If you catch your dog helping himself or herself to anything finger-licking good, calmly try to take the rest of the chicken away. Don’t panic; simply give your veterinarian a call to help you figure out how to handle the situation. If your dog becomes lethargic, constipated, has difficulty pooping, or is passing bloody stool, you’re going to want to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible. Other symptoms may include vomiting, a bloated, or loss of appetite.
- Troublesome Toys
Scary things could be lurking in the toy chest. It turns out the very things your dogs and kids love to play with can be harmful. Toys with tiny, removable parts, in particular, can pose a choking hazard. So can teddy bears with hard plastic eyes. Anything a toddler might put into his or her mouth is likely to end up in your dog’s craw as well, so keep a sharp eye out for those sharp eyes and other choking hazards.
- Cool It With The Coolant
As temperatures drop, antifreeze is required to keep your car running. Antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol has a sweet taste that animals actually enjoy the taste of. Crazy, right?
This stuff is deadly even in small amounts. If you think there’s a chance of your radiator leaking, you can find antifreeze that contains propylene glycol instead, which is safe for animals if ingested in small amounts.
Not-so-fun fact: ethylene glycol can also be found in snow globes. So keep those souvenirs where they won’t fall, break, and tempt your pets.
Well, we hope we haven’t made you totally afraid of going into your kitchen or your back yard. Remember—knowing is half the battle. Taking steps to keep your pup safe is what being a good parent is all about, right? And if your dog can’t resist putting things in his mouth that don’t belong there, are you sure you’ve found the right treats to keep him happy?