There are a lot of things in our environment that can be very hazardous to dogs. A lot of us have heard that chocolate is bad for dogs, but what else is on this list, and what can you do if your dog does ingest a poison? Hopefully this will help you to better understand those things that you need to keep far away from your dog, and what to do if your training and management fail.
It is a very good idea to teach your dog a formal “leave it” command. To me this means a command that teaches your dog the behavior of turning his head away, or backing away from an item that he will never get. This is not a parlor trick where you will release the “leave it” and allow your dog to “take” the item. If you have taught “leave it” this way, I would just teach the behavior the way I have described with a different command.
Human medications can be very hazardous to your dog. Ibuprofen, and antidepressants are just two examples of drugs that can be very dangerous. I find it is best to take any medications behind a closed door with your dog on the other side! Management is the safest way to deal with medications as your dog can dive for, and ingest a pill more quickly than a box of cookies.
Be very careful when applying your dog’s flea and tick prevention! If you have a small dog be very careful not to use a dose for a dog that is much larger, or be cautious not to use the entire vile if you are on the lower end of the suggested weight. Also be very careful about placement of the oil, use a fine tooth comb to separate the hair directly between your dog’s shoulder blades so you can get as close to the skin as possible. Be careful about petting the area, especially if you have children! Discard the empty vile by placing it a plastic bag, one of your dog’s poopy bags can be a good option, tying it tightly in a knot and bringing it directly to an outdoor trash. Don’t risk your dog getting into the garbage and eating this!
Some seemingly healthy foods are very dangerous for dogs. Avocados can be deadly, they contain persin which acts as a poison causing vomiting and diarrhea. Grapes, raisins, milk, onions, garlic cloves, and macadamia nuts are all to be avoided as well. When cooking with any of these foods, chocolate too, I find it best to block your dog out of your kitchen, or use your leash to tether him away from the area. This way if you drop something it will not cause him any harm. If he cries or begs then try a food stuffed toy, you can read more about food stuffed toys in my previous blog: The Kibble-Dispensing Toy Comparison. Some foods that aren’t too healthy for us can cause more problems for our dogs, such as alcohol, coffee, caffeine, and xylitol or artificial sweeteners, these are all to be avoided!
The products you use to clean your home can also be very hazardous to your dog. Some may seem obvious like nail polish remover, drain cleaner, and bleach, but others may be more surprising to you. PineSol and any pine cleaners are very bad for your dog. Laundry detergents can be very dangerous because they can have sweet smells that attract your dog, and can cause seizures if ingested. I would highly recommend cleaning your home while your dog is out, perhaps on a park run, or if nothing else, at least removed to another room. Also use caution when discarding and storing batteries, as a strong chewer could try to make toys of them and they are also poisonous! Finally human toothpaste can be deadly! Be careful with toothpaste, store it in a place your dog definitely cannot get to it, and throw it out directly outside when you have finished a tube! Only use pet approved tooth pastes when brushing your dog’s teeth.
You will also want to use caution when choosing flowers and plants for your home. Lilies, tulips, and azaleas can be dangerous for your dog. If you can’t place these plants out of your dog’s reach, then eliminating them from your home will be the safest way to deal with this. You can also teach you dogs to leave the plants alone, but it will be best to train this behavior with plants that are not poisonous, for obvious reasons!
Finally you want to use caution when choosing your dog’s food, treats, and toys. Keep an eye out for any recalls linked to your dog’s food as these happen. When choosing toys, don’t always choose the least expensive, even if your dog is very destructive. In fact the cheaper toys usually contain more sub par materials so when torn apart or ingested can be even worse for your dog. Tennis balls can cause problems for dogs for many reasons. Tennis balls and other toys that can be crushed or smushed, run the risk of reinflating in your dogs mouth or throat which can cause choking. Also a chewed up tennis ball is not made of good materials so remove it before your dog eats it! Be very cautious of treats made in China. Waggin’ Train Treats are also to be completely avoided, if you can find them, as the company has voluntary removed them from stores, but they have been responsible for many dog related deaths. Be cautious of other similar jerky type treats, such as Dogswell’s jerky treats. Always read the directions on your dog’s food and treats! Some treats will include an proper amount over a certain time, don’t over do it!
If you think your dog has ingested a poison, but you are not sure, you should contact a veterinarian immediately. The Animal Medical Center in New York City is open 24 hours: http://www.amcny.org, and the ASPCA offers a poison control hotline: (888) 426-4435. There is a $65 consultation fee for this service. If you have seen your dog ingest a poison and can react fairly quickly to this, then you can give your dog 3% Hydrogen Peroxide. This will cause vomiting, and hopefully will cause your dog to vomit up the poison. I like to do this somewhere I don’t mind if my dog throws up and I begin to give him one capful of the peroxide until he begins to vomit. Be sure to give him plenty of water once he has thrown up.
The ASPCA’s center for poison control reports that their most common poison calls are for dogs who have ingested medications. Don’t let this be you! It is easy enough to shut a bathroom door, prepare a medication, take it and come out, so your dog has absolutely no chance of coming into contact with those medications. Take the time to manage your environment so you can keep your dog safe!