Photo credit: Julia Aysa
For centuries, dogs have been called “man’s best friend,” and with good reason. The unconditional love and companionship of a dog can be linked directly to increased mental andphysical health. Numerous studies have shown that in the presence of a dog, blood pressure decreases, the heart rate slows, and breathing becomes more regular. This all leads to decreased stress levels and better mental health. When it comes to physical health, there is a direct link between dog ownership and physicality. “People who have dogs live longer than people who have cats, and the assumption has been that dogs naturally cause their owners to be more active,” said Dr. Thomas Lee, Co-Editor in Chief of the Harvard Heart Letter. The American Heart Association has even linked dog ownership with a reduced risk of heart disease.
Just as a dog keeps his owner healthy, so, too, should an owner work to keep his or her best friend healthy. Dog proofing your home and property is one way to make sure you’re providing a safe space for your pet. Common mistakes and oversights lead to devastating accidents that are easily avoided. For example, the ASPCA reported in 2016 alone, there were 180,639 household pet poisonings.
Take some time to protect your loved one by reviewing this valuable safety checklist.
Inside Your Home
One of the first rooms to protect is your kitchen. Install cabinet safety latches and store cleaning supplies in a high space, avoiding the traditional under-the-sink spot. If you’re not using a trash can with a lid, make sure you’re storing it in a closed pantry area. Keep all food out of your dog’s reach because the food, as well as the packaging, can be unsafe. Do not leave table scraps out in the open. Check out this list of poisonous pet foods.
When it comes to your bathroom, it’s best to keep your bathroom door closed at all times. Make sure to keep the toilet lid closed just in case the door is open and Fido wants to drink from the toilet. He can ingest cleaning chemicals and even drown. Safely store all of your medications, as many popular pills are poisonous to your pet. Cleaning chemicals should be stored in a high space. Don’t store lotions, cosmetics, and other products on the counter surface.
Some other recommendations for keeping the inside of your home safe for your dog include:
● Do not leave the dryer open because it can be used as a warm, cozy-up spot without you knowing.
● Games and toys often leave behind small parts; make sure to keep clean them up.
● Heavy decorations on high shelves can be knocked over causing injury.
● Keep your closet door closed. Belts, strings, and buttons all cause hazards for your dog.
● According to PetMD, electrical cords are the single most common type of electrical injury for household pets. Keep them tucked behind furniture and consider a cord cover when that’s not possible.
● Heating and air vents should be covered.
● Check here to make sure your household plant isn’t poisonous.
● Wherever you do craft projects, clean up all glue, glitter, pipe cleaners, needles, etc. Gorilla glue and Elmer’s glue are particularly dangerous.
● Don’t leave smaller items laying around, such as coins, clips, earrings, etc. They are easy items to chew on and ingest.
● Any sharp household items should be securely stored.
Outside Your Home
To protect your garage, move all chemicals to high shelves, or better yet, in a secured cabinet. And definitely do not leave antifreeze anywhere accessible. If it’s on the floor, clean it immediately; one taste can be lethal.
Dogs can be amazing escape artists, so you’re going to need to protect your yard as well. Consider a traditional fence or an electric fence to keep them safe at home. Your yard can also contain toxic plant materials. Know what you have and remove anything unsafe. Pools can be hazardous for your pets. Limit their access to your pool, and if they are by the pool, make sure you’re there to supervise.
Remember, it’s ingrained in your dog’s nature to explore everything, and this can lead to great risk. It’s important to take steps that provide your loving animals the safe space they deserve.