Keeping Your Dog Safe

General Safety

Pets are naturally curious, playful and energetic, which makes almost anything in your home or yard fair game for their investigation. Unfortunately, dogs can’t read warning labels on household chemicals or tell the difference between a poisonous and nonpoisonous plant. It’s up to you as the caregiver to keep harmful objects out of their reach. Here are some pointers to help you keep your pets safe and healthy.


If you even suspect that your pet has been poisoned, call your veterinary clinic or poison control center immediately. Symptoms may not show up until it’s too late. The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has a 24-hour emergency hotline. Call 1-888-4ANI-HELP (1-888-426-4435), but please note that there is a $40 charge for each call.

In the House

Some household items may cause choking, poisoning or intestinal blockage. When dog-proofing your home, look for pins, needles and earrings; plastic wrap and plastic bags; aluminum foil; mothballs; trash; detergents and other cleaning materials and chemicals; carpet cleaners; furniture polishes; and houseplants, including philodendron, ivies and poinsettias. Pets are attracted to the odor and sweet taste of antifreeze. However, it is poisonous. Pesticides such as ant traps and insect sprays should also be kept out of the reach of children and pets. Be aware of other household objects that may cause harm to dogs, such as exposed electrical cords or a fireplace without a screen.

In the Yard

Keep lawn chemicals, weed killers and other chemicals locked up in your garage or garden shed. Keep trash cans tightly covered. Be aware that some plants, including lupine, rhododendron, clematis, lily of the valley and yew, are poisonous to pets.

Hot Weather Safety

Before you dive into summer fun with your dog, keep in mind that changing temperatures may necessitate changes in a pet’s normal schedule, to keep it comfortable and safe. Hot pavement and beach sand can easily burn sensitive paws. Exercise during
the hottest part of the day may lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke. And some pets eat less when the weather is hot. Make sure to provide plenty of fresh water. Keep your pet safe, both in the water and on land.

Water Safety

Not every dog paddles well. Animals in water for the first time should be eased in, never thrown or chased. Don’t let them drink from pools or the ocean. Rinse them off after they’ve been in the water; salt and minerals can damage a dog’s coat. Also, keep covers on hot tubs and swimming pools. Young animals, especially, can fall in and may not be able to get out. And don’t forget, life preservers are made for dogs, too.

Shorthaired pets and those with pink skin and white hair are especially susceptible to sunburn, so limit their exposure or use sunscreen, especially on the bridge of the nose on light-coated breeds.

Parked Cars

Never leave your pet in a parked car — not even if you crack the windows or park in the shade. On a 70°F day, the car temperature can rise above 150°F in minutes. This is extremely dangerous and is the leading cause of heatstroke. Also, some pets like to nap under cars, so check before you pull out.


Heatstroke can be fatal. If your pet experiences rapid panting, hot skin or twitching muscles, or if he has a dazed look, wrap him in a towel soaked with cool (not cold) water. In severe cases, place him in cool water. See your veterinarian immediately.

Cold Weather Safety

Cold weather brings with it a number of cautions for pet owners. Drops of antifreeze on a driveway, cold temperatures and winter holidays can all cause problems for pets.


Pets are attracted to the odor and sweet taste of antifreeze, which is poisonous. Containers should be stored high and tightly sealed. Make sure to wipe up any spills. Windshield-washing solution also contains antifreeze. Ingestion of antifreeze can quickly cause death. Call your veterinarian immediately if your pet has tasted antifreeze.


Limit your pet’s exposure to wind and below-freezing temperatures. If his paws, ears and/or tail are cold or appear to have no feeling, massage them gently with a towel. You can place the paws in lukewarm water. Keep your pet warm and call your veterinarian immediately.

Winter Holiday Concerns

Sweets and foods high in fat can upset your pet’s stomach or even cause serious illness. So can spilled alcoholic beverages, including beer. And chocolate in all forms can be deadly. Don’t let pet’s eat Christmas tree needles or drink tree water — keep the water covered.
Other items to keep out of reach include string, ribbon, tinsel, yarn, angel hair, icicles, bubbling lights, snow sprays, snow flock, Styrofoam, glass ornaments, strings of popcorn or cranberries, tape, and other decorating and wrapping supplies.