New pets often chew on anything with which they come into contact, have accidents on the floor and furniture, and wander into forbidden areas. These common issues can be frustrating for your family and dangerous for your pet. That's why it's so important to take the following steps to protect your home—and most importantly—your new dog or puppy.
Melanie Monteiro, author of "The Safe Dog Handbook," says one of the best ways to catch potential hazards around the house is to crawl on your hands and knees to better understand what your pet will see in each room. "Remove all choking and chewing hazards; secure wastebaskets; and be sure all medications, cleansers, etc., are well out of reach. Even things as innocent-seeming as a penny can be toxic if swallowed," she explains.
Because of electric shock, cords and wires are some of the most dangerous items a puppy or dog can grab. To troubleshoot this hazard, Monteiro suggests, "securing electrical cords by using protective cord covers, unplugging cords when they're not in use, or taping them up against the wall."
Another piece of advice Monteiro offers to keep your pet safe and home intact is to secure things that hang, such as cords from drapes, tablecloths, and dangling potted plants. "Cords are attractive to puppies and can pose a strangulation hazard," says Monteiro. She also explains that when pets tug on items such as tablecloths or dangling plants they can cause heavy pots or vases to fall on them.
Dr. Jules Benson, BVSc, MRCVS, is a practicing veterinarian in Pennsylvania and vice president of Veterinary Services at Petplan pet insurance, says one of the best ways to safeguard a home for new pets is to control the trash, refrigerator, and cupboards. "Some pets are so adept at opening doors and cabinets that some of my clients have fitted childproof locks throughout the kitchen. Whenever possible, try to use trash cans with lids, especially in the bathroom. I have one client whose bulldog has repeatedly eaten plastic gloves that have been used for applying hair dye—two occasions that required surgery. In my own household, one of our cats has a penchant for cotton swabs, so they always have to be disposed of in a secure trash can," Benson explains.
"Puppies and dogs love to chase chipmunks, gophers, rabbits, etc., and the rodents will often run up the downspouts to escape. The dog will continue to go after the critter and, in the process, can severely cut their muzzles. Downspouts are sharp enough to slice through a cucumber—that's a ridiculously sharp thing to leave uncovered in the yard where pets and children play," says Stacey Schneider, creator of the Downspout Safety Cap.
According to Eric Abbey, president of Loving Pets, plants and flowers that are safe for your pets are those that are not harmful if ingested. Some of the common toxic plants he cautions against keeping in and around your home include: lilies, azaleas, rhododendrons, oleanders, agave, hyacinths, hydrangeas, wisteria vines, and ficus—a popular indoor plant. If you can't bear to part with these types of plants, keep them out of your pet's reach.
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