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Pet Care » Your Dog's Habitat

Tips For Pet-Proofing Your Home

How to protect your pooch from potential harm in and around the house

While curiosity is known to have injured a few cats, it doesn't discriminate against occasionally sneaking up on an unsuspecting dog and doing its share of harm. Before you bring your bouncing bundle of canine fur into your home, do a safety check of your entire property to identify and rectify any potential dangers that your new pooch might encounter.

Approach this process as if a crawling baby had free range of your house, garage, and yard. Get down on all fours (yes - we're serious) and proceed to prowl the property looking for such things as low-lying cords and easy access to cupboards, drawers, closets, and garbage cans. Clear out any hazardous items that you identify as being a possible risk - cleaning products, medications, toxic food, hazardous plants, and small easily reachable items that look delectably chewable. Put locks or latches on any areas that you deem unsafe but can't "empty out."

While you're probably familiar with the warnings about feeding your dog chocolate, bones, onions, and raw eggs, you might not be aware of the dangers associated with such items as cocoa bean mulch, grapes, green tomatoes, potatoes, raisins, turkey skin, and walnuts. For a listing of these items and other products/situations that pose a threat to your pooch, check out www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=apcc_poisonsafe or www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=2&cat=1939&articleid=1030.

Don't forget to identify potential escape routes including doors that don't close tightly or that open easily, windows that are routinely left open, and balconies or porches that aren't enclosed. If you have stairs in your home that your young, old, or incapacitated dog won't be able to safely maneuver, device a method to restrict access to the area.

Purchase or put together a pet-related first aid kit and have it easily accessible along with a list of emergency contacts associated with the care of your dog. Such a list should contain the contact information for your veterinarian, a back-up veterinarian, and the telephone number for the Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435 or 800-548-2423).

When your dog finally arrives to take the grand tour of his or her new home, allow them to roam freely. Closely watch you canine companion during this time as they might unknowingly identify other dangerous areas or items that you missed during your pet-proofing preparations. Immediately remedy such situations.

Occasionally, take the time to log on to www.aspca.org and click on their Animal Poison Control Center section. This website has a valuable listing of recent press releases and articles pertaining to newly identified hazardous pet items, as well as research reports on certain products rumored to be a danger to your dog. Stay current with the latest information and your pooch will stay safe.

Always remain vigilant and keep an eye out for any new risks that might arise, such as deteriorating dog toys. Your dog will thank you for all of your pet-proofing work by staying safe and healthy for many years to come.

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