8 Most Dangerous Hazards for Dogs
Many pet owners are unaware of the hazards that lurk inside and outside of their homes. Everyday items, décor, foods and even outdoor plants can be potentially dangerous and sometimes fatal to our canine companions. Therefore, it is important to remember that adopting a four-legged family member means committing to their wellbeing and considering the dog’s safety.
Here are the eight most dangerous hazards for dogs that you might surprisingly find in their environment.
Household chemicals and cleaners are environmental hazards that apply to both pets and humans. Bleach, soap, lead paint, turpentine and an array of other chemicals in the home can be fatal for all. We can read the labels on these products to educate ourselves on the proper use and precautions to take while in use, but our dogs have no idea the trouble they could get into nosing around these things. Again, they loyally depend on our best instincts and care to protect them from harm.
Many veterinarians recommend kneeling to the dog’s eye level to see what the dog sees. Anything with a warning label should be moved above the dog’s reach or stored in a securely closed cabinet/closet. Childproof latches are suggested to keep clever canines from prying into these storage areas. The cost of these safety devices from your local hardware store will be significantly less than the cost from your veterinarian to attempt to save your dog’s life. When the damage is too severe to repair or treat is when you realize no price can be put on the kind of love received from your beloved four-legged companion.
The garage is a good place to begin seeking out dangerous products to keep away from our dogs. Dogs will find the odor of these chemicals appealing and their curiosity will lead them to root through the garage to get to the toxins.
Antifreeze, coolants, gasoline, paint and paint thinners just top the long list of toxic hazards for a dog. If ingested or inhaled, these chemicals can not only make your dog extremely sick, but too often end in a fatal result. Keeping these products locked in cabinets, high on shelves or stored in completely sealed containers can be lifesaving for your pet. Please ask your veterinarian to provide you with a list of dangerous chemicals that may be found around your property.
We may consider it harmless to share our snacks with our furry friends, but with their digestive tract being very different from our own, their bodies cannot process the same food humans can. A bag of M&M’s is a treat for a child, but is toxic to a dog. Theobromine is an ingredient in chocolate that is poisonous to pets. The amount of chocolate that would be lethal to a dog depends on the dog’s size, among other factors. If a dog has ingested too much chocolate, the toxicity level from the theobromine can result in heart rate and respiratory problems, seizures and comas.
According to the St. Louis Emergency Animal Clinic, dogs that have ingested chewing gum, candy and breathe mints containing xylitol may find themselves on the operating table having these goodies surgically removed. The xylitol causes these candies to expand in their stomachs, preventing elimination of waste and causing toxins to release into a dog’s system. This can lead to death. Keep gum, candy and mints out of reach and keep purses and backpacks zipped to prevent easy access for the dog.
Many hazards a dog can come into contact with look similar to the toys that cause tails to wag at top speed. Mothballs are a perfect example of such a hazard. Mothballs contain naphthalene which is extremely dangerous if consumed. It is so dangerous that it can cause brain damage, as well as blood cell damage to major organs like the kidneys and liver. Storing things in cedar closets or in sealed storage containers can eliminate the possibility of life lasting damage to your pet.
Other edibles to keep away from dogs are onions, avocados, grapes, raisins, coffee grounds and garlic (to name just a few). These delicacies will cause vomiting and diarrhea; while others can also be toxic in high doses.
Furniture and Appliances
Furniture, large decor items that can easily tip-over, sharp corners and high beds and sofas, are all potential hazards for our dogs. Unstable or poorly designed furniture can be prone to tipping or breaking if your dog decides to play around it.
Fall injuries from high beds include sprains, broken bones, head trauma, and chest or abdominal injuries according to VCA Animal Hospital.
Keep objects such as toys, treats, indoor plants, food and other items off of furniture so that your dog will not be tempted to reach them.
Irons and steamers for clothes, personal space heaters and cooling fans are an injury or burn waiting to happen, and it’s even more of a concern if you have an extremely curious dog in the home. Always supervise your dog around any appliances.
Besides being a fire hazard, electrical cords can injure our dogs. The Energy Education Council (EEC) warns of the hazards that can occur with appliance cords. “If you have a curious and playful pup, look around your home for dangling cords that pets could get entangled in and pull down lamps or small appliances or devices.”
There is also a multitude of hazards that surround us outside of our home walls. In the garage, the shed and the yard we continually store items that could cause fatal injuries and illnesses to our pets. We often assume that our dogs will know what to steer clear of and what to avoid, forgetting that one of a dog’s key personality traits is his desire to investigate all unusual sights and smells that are in his “territory.” It is our responsibility to make all potentially dangerous findings inaccessible to our pets.
“Take two aspirin and call me in the morning,” is great advice when it comes from a human physician; but not from a veterinarian. From ibuprofen to anti-depressants, no prescribed or over the counter medication for a human is safe for an animal.
Gastric ulcers and kidney failure are just two complications that can occur when dogs are given medicines for human intake only. If your dog is in pain, has a fever, or suffers from allergies, call your veterinarian and he/she will recommend the best treatment for your dog’s ailment. Frequently, alternative treatments are recommended to avoid having the dog take any medicine
Dogs are very inventive and playful so you may find that your dog loves to play with lots of things already in your home such as small objects or your shoe laces. Watch out for some of these “toys” chosen by your dog as some of them can be a choking hazard.
You can encourage your dog to play with safe toys, chosen by you, instead of finding his own toys. Avoid toys with small parts that might come off. Small parts can easily come off and your dog could swallow them. This could cause your dog to choke or your dog could start collecting things in his stomach, which isn’t healthy for him. In some cases he might try to pass something he eats which could cause problems.
If you buy stuffed animals for your dog, take the time to remove tails, button eyes, buttons, and other parts that he can tear off. Your dog can swallow these parts and could experience a medical emergency. Keep in mind that these parts area not why your dog likes the toy. Details like these are added to toys to make them more appealing to you, the consumer. Your dog will still love the toys when you remove the parts that could be dangerous.
Our dogs love to spend time in their yards and consider it their domain. We jeopardize our dog’s domain when we smother our grass, brush and flowers with insecticides and fertilizers. A dog finds these smells too appealing to pass by without laying his mark and, in doing so, will stick his curious nose right into the new smell. Again, these are toxic chemicals that are not meant for inhalation or consumption. Animals can get these chemicals in their mouth by licking their paws, skin and fur that have been in contact with the poisonous chemicals. The labels that are on insecticides and fertilizers will provide information about how to use a product safely and effectively; how to safely store the product; first aid instructions; and phone numbers to call for help or more information.
Sometimes the choices we make that are pleasing to the eye are also what a dog finds as a pleasing snack to munch on. The flowers, leaves, shrubs and ivy that provide us with lush, colorful and lavish visual enjoyment can often lead to our pet’s demise. A nibble here and a taste there lead a dog to severe abdominal, respiratory and heart toxicity. Whether the leaf of a shamrock, the roots of cyclamen, the seeds/nuts of a sago palm or the bulbs of tulips, they should all be off limits to your dog. A few of the possible health issues that can develop when the dog eats from these plants and flowers include: vomiting, diarrhea, liver failure, irregular heart rhythm, seizures, collapse of the nervous system, coma and even death.
For a list of the many other plants and flowers that are toxic to your dog, please visit www.apcc.aspca.org (Animal Poison Control Center – The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
Another natural, unpleasant health threat to dogs is called coprophagy which means stool eating. Many parasites, like Giardia and Coccidia, are likely to be transmitted through eating the stool of other dogs or cats. It is also possible for dogs that eat feces to infect themselves with roundworms and whipworms if the stool has been on the ground for two or three weeks. This can be prevented by deterring your dog from the stool of other animals; but, most importantly, by pet owners picking up after their pets. The less mess on the ground, the less opportunity a dog will have to put someone else’s mess in his mouth.
Extreme Weather Conditions
Then, there are the environmental hazards that are out of our control. Dogs that live primarily outdoors need to be shaded from direct sunlight and excessive temperatures. Just like humans, dogs can get sunburn and can suffer from heat stroke. Over-exposure to heat and humidity causes heat stroke (hyperthermia) which is a quick killer for dogs.
Along with excessive heat comes the risk of dehydration. It is crucial that all pets have access to clean, fresh water while spending time outdoors in warm temperatures. Indeed dogs will get sunburn with overexposure to direct sunlight. Dogs with white fur and dogs that have no color pigment on their nose are most susceptible to being burned. To prevent burning, use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 that is specifically formulated for dogs.
Cold weather is just as dangerous as hot weather. Hypothermia and frostbite are two very serious conditions brought on by extremely low temperatures. These conditions can often result in the loss of your dog’s toes, or even a whole paw. Many times, it is assumed that if a dog has a thick coat he is protected from dangerous winds. This is absolutely not true because strong, gusty winds can blow debris into your dog’s eyes or carry heavier items through the air that could hit your pet causing serious injury.
For your dog’s health and safety, it is recommended to bring your dog inside and away from dangerous weather conditions.
Biological hazards include viruses, bacteria, insects, animals, etc., that can cause adverse health impacts. For example, mould, harmful plants, sewage, dust and vermin.
Dogs often root through trash containers to find food scraps that have unique odors to dogs. Rotting food, mold and bacteria in some trash containers can cause a dog painful stomach discomfort. A dog’s nose will also find fatty, rich food very appealing; resulting in painful pancreatic inflammation. The old adage “curiosity killed the cat” can apply to dogs when referring to experiments with mystery treats with unique aromas. It is our responsibility as trusted protectors to safeguard them from these dangerous taste tests.
If you suspect your dog has been poisoned, infected or affected by indoor or outdoor hazards call your veterinarian or local poison control center immediately. Please do not wait for your dog to “ride it out” because while you wait your dog could be quickly deteriorating internally and losing function in vital organs. It is always better to be safe than sorry when dealing with extreme hazards and your dog’s well being because, quite possibly, every minute counts. We can’t keep our eyes on our pets every second of the day; however, we can be alert, cautious, conscientious and, above all, safe every second of the dog’s day.
Spring cleaning is a perfect time to safeguard the inside of your home for the health and comfort of your dog. If you have a puppy, refer to the puppy-proofing your home guide for some advice. After all, doesn’t your dog instinctively, unconditionally do all he/she can to comfort you and keep you safe from harm?