A "Dog's Eye View" Inspection Will Protect Your Dog From Household Hazards

Anything you consider household hazards for an infant or small child are also dangerous for your dog.

Electrical cords, plastic bags, small items on the floor, steep stairs and sharp objects protruding from walls can harm your dog.

What's the best way to find household hazards that can take your dog's life?

Do a "dog's eye view" inspection of your home. Look at things the way she does. View the world from her perspective.

Get down on your knees and look under the beds, sofas and chairs. Open floor-level cupboards and check what's in them.

Check how steep the stairs are for an animal with much shorter legs than yours.

Dogs, especially puppies, love to chew. As omnivores, they'll eat just about anything.

They can also be single-minded when it comes to getting a favorite toy from some tight space.

They're inquisitive as well. An intriguing scent will have them trying to open a cupboard door to find the source, or tearing open a gift of chocolate under the tree.

Knowing these characteristics can help you see household hazards that you might overlook normally.

Below is a list of household hazards and what you can do to reduce or eliminate their danger to your dog.

Electrical Cords Will Electrocute

Electrical cords present a life-threatening danger to your dog. If she likes to chew, and especially if she likes to chew anything that resembles an electrical cord (like her leash, or a rope), she is at risk of electrocution.

There are four ways to deal with these household hazards. They are best used in combination.

First, keep cords out of her reach. Do not run them along the floor. Suspend them at least six inches from the floor. Your dog is much less likely to stand and chew a cord than she is to lie down and enjoy a "teething session" with it.

Second, use a bitter-tasting spray on all electrical cords that she can, or might be able to, reach. These products are nontoxic, yet make anything they are sprayed on unpalatable to animals.

I also recommend these sprays for toxic houseplants and anything else you want to keep her from chewing.

Third, unplug cords when the appliances or tools are not in use. This is the least effective of the three in terms of keeping your dog safe all the time. She may become used to chewing on a cord while it is unplugged, then one day chew on it when it's plugged in.

Fourth, give her a few things to chew on. She'll enjoy a squeaky toy, a tennis ball, and a cornstarch bone. Praise her when she chews on these items and she'll soon prefer them to cords and other dangerous household hazards items.

Outdoor electrical cords are greater household hazards because typically they are left lying on the ground where your dog can easily reach them and chew on them.

Reduce the danger by keeping them off the ground whenever possible, spraying them with a bitter spray, unplugging them when not in use, and keeping your dog in a fenced run or tied up when you use electrical tools and appliances outside.

If you have the time for a more effective "cure," you can train your dog not to chew, or even approach, electrical cords.

This is an attention-intensive process, as you'll have to observe her whenever she is awake. Be alert to "quiet" times. She may simply be asleep, but she may also have found something new to enjoy. Keep a close watch on your dog, or keep her on a leash attached to you.

Combine some or all of these techniques to ensure that she never succumbs to these indoor and outdoor household hazards.

Plastic Bags Can Cause Asphyxiation

Have you ever tried to separate two layers of clingy plastic, like the type your dry cleaning comes in?

They seem to stick like they're glued together. That is the danger of these plastics when it comes to small children and your dog.

Plastic bags left where she can reach them pose a household hazards grave risk of asphyxiation to your dog.

You might not think she'd be interested in a lump of plastic. That may be so, but what if her favorite ball rolls inside the bag.

She might go right in there after it. Once in there, and the plastic settles over her snout, she may begin to panic and struggle, which will make it worse for her.

There's a very easy way to avoid these household hazards. Immediately after use, put all plastic bags in a secure place if you want to keep them, or in the trash if they are no longer needed. And keep the trash can lid securely fastened to the can.

Small Objects Can Choke Your Dog

Your dog learns about many things with her mouth, or, more accurately, by putting things in her mouth. She learns about the size, shape, texture, taste, and whether they can be chewed or not.

She does not learn whether they should be swallowed or not. More often than not, once they're in her mouth, they're swallowed.

Just about any small object is fair game for her. Buttons, coins, small stones, game pieces, bugs — if it'll fit in her mouth, it will likely end up in her mouth. The danger lies in the swallowing.

If the object is small enough, she'll swallow it without choking or obstructing her airway (of course, then she might run the risk of a


tract obstruction).

A little bit bigger, and the object may become stuck. If it's not too big, she may be able to gag or retch it back up. Some objects, however, can lodge in the windpipe and cut off air to the lungs.

You can prevent this by keeping small objects off the floor and off low tables. Regularly check under beds, sofas and chairs for buttons, coins and similar small items.

Have your children put away all toys and games when they're done. Put away all sewing supplies immediately after use.

Keep dirty laundry off the floor; your dog may decide to chew on a few buttons. Keep shoes with laces off the floor or in a closet; if she swallows the laces, they could cause problems in her digestive system.

Outside, train her not to chew stones. Also train her not to pick up items she finds in the yard or during your walks. You'll have to be very alert to this hazard.

There were times that my dog had something in his mouth so quickly that I wasn't even sure he'd picked it up.

Of course, it was always difficult to get these objects out of his mouth because he didn't want to let them go.

Invest a few hours of your time to check for and eliminate these household hazards. That small investment will reduce the chance that you'll ever need to use dog first aid.