All Too Common Dog Dwelling Dangers


The safety of my two dogs is high on my priority list. Fergus and Brodie are full family members, and I treat them as I would any member of my family with the best possible care. I want to protect my dogs so they can have a safe, happy, and healthy life, so anything I can share about safety, I’m in!


Although we cannot control every potential dog hazard in the home, we can do our best to create a safe environment for our pet family. Take a moment to look around your home. Are there canine hazards hidden in plain sight? This blog helps you identify some potential hazards and know what to do if your dog accidentally ingests something or gets into danger.


Household cleaners like laundry and dishwashing detergent, window cleaners and drain cleaners present dangers to our pets because they contain bleaches and corrosive ingredients. These common products can cause serious burns or irritation to the mucus membrane, gastrointestinal system, respiratory passageways, eyes, and skin. Choosing safe alternatives such as vinegar and baking soda or purchasing products without harmful chemicals can have the same cleaning effect without all the toxicity.


Because the effects of household cleaners can be poisonous to your pet, it is important to contact a veterinarian if you suspect your dog has been exposed to or has ingested something harmful.


Antifreeze is so appealing to dogs. It has a sweet taste, and even a very small amount of antifreeze can be fatal. As winter approaches, many people will be winterizing their automobiles, including adding antifreeze. Take note of places where cars are parked and the floor of your garage where antifreeze could puddle. Clean up any spills. Keep both new and used antifreeze in a sealed container away from pets. In the city antifreeze will accumulate on the street and in the gutters. Take care to wash your pet’s paws after a walk. If your dog licks its paws after walking through a puddle of antifreeze, it can ingest enough antifreeze to cause death.


Treatment for antifreeze poisoning needs to be started quickly! If you see your pet drinking antifreeze or are suspicious that your pet may have had access to antifreeze, contact a veterinarian immediately. If left untreated, antifreeze poisoning will result in kidney failure that is often fatal in a few days.


“Sugar-free” sells to those of us trying to watch calories or stay away from sugar, but it’s a lethal pet hazard in the home. Xylitol (also known as birch sugar or wood sugar) is a sweetener present in many products and foods like sugar-free chewing gum, cough drops, breath mints, chewable vitamins, toothpaste, and mouthwash. The list is so long, even bake goods and ice cream may contain xylitol to make them marketable to people with diabetes.


Be very aware of what comes into your home. Your dog will find those sugar-free cough drops or gum you stashed in your purse or backpack. If you think your dog may have eaten a product containing xylitol, call your vet, emergency clinic, or animal poison control center right away. This is a truly lethal situation for your dog!


Essential oils can be toxic around your dog. This is because of those olfactory receptors we talked about in a previous blog. Dogs are much more sensitive to the scent of oils than humans. Cinnamon, peppermint, tea tree (in high concentrations) and citrus are common essential oils that are potentially unsafe. Direct contact with the skin, ingesting or inhaling from a room atomizer can cause skin irritations, respiratory irritations, vomiting and diarrhea. There are many essential oils that are safe around dogs, like geranium, lavender, rose and cedarwood. If you’re unsure whether an oil is safe to use around your dog, consult your veterinarian.


Dog-bowl bacteria is another potential health hazard. Your dog’s bowl is up there with other germ collecting objects like kitchen sponges, sinks, and toothbrush holders. To minimize health issues, wash your dog’s food and water bowl regularly, after every meal (food) and once a week (water). The best washing is in a dishwasher. Stainless steel or ceramic bowls are the easiest to keep clean. Remember to clean the area under and around your dog’s bowls to discourage mold and mildew from forming.


“Communal” water bowls are definitely something to avoid. The bowls in front of a store or at the dog park are used by many random dogs, so drinking from them can increase your dog’s risk of ingesting bacteria, viruses, or parasites.  


Standing water in city parks is potentially a problem for your dog. Leptospirosis is a bacteria seen in late summer, fall, and after rainfalls. It is easily transmitted to your dog through the urine of small rodents and can be present in small puddles of standing water. This bacterium affects your dog’s liver and kidneys so you will want to avoid these puddles.


The information presented in this blog comes from several sources like the US Food and Drug Association, the American Kennel Association, and University Colleges of Veterinary Medicine. There is an abundance of pet-care information on the internet and all of it makes clear that pet safety and help protecting your dog is as important to them as it is to you!

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