As we have all spend more time indoors as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a dramatic rise in pet ownership in the UK, with over 2.1 million people getting a new pet in lockdown and over 70% of people choosing a dog over any other pet (1).
Many people have seen this as the perfect opportunity to welcome a new dog into the home, but we want to urge eager pet owners to consider ways they can pet-proof their home from hidden household hazards before welcoming their new addition.
1. Foods that can be toxic for your dog
You may think it’s harmless to give your dog a bit of food from your plate at mealtimes or give them leftovers to reduce waste – but this can often cause more harm to your pet. Some foods that humans have in their diet and even consider healthy, could be detrimental to your pet’s health. Before welcoming your new dog, make sure you keep these harmful foods out of reach…
Chocolate can be toxic to dogs as it contains ingredients which are not safe for them to digest, including caffeine, sugar, and theobromine. If your dog has eaten chocolate, it’s unlikely that it will lead to severe or fatal consequences, but the toxins in chocolate could make your dog significantly ill with heart and kidney conditions. It is important to keep all chocolate products out of reach of your dog, even check in places you think are safe such as handbags or household bins. Note that the most serious cases of chocolate poisoning in dogs is likely to occur in small dogs, or when the chocolate is darker as it will contain a higher percentage of the toxic ingredient.
Macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, peanuts, pecan nuts and pistachios should be kept away from your dog – as well as being a choking hazard and possible allergen, nuts can also be toxic to dogs, with different kinds of nuts causing varying effects to your dog’s health.
Although feeding your dog fruits may seem like the healthy thing to do – there are a lot of fruits which can be toxic to dogs and can cause them more harm than good.
Grapes and raisins are poisonous to dogs and can cause severe kidney damage. Rhubarb is another fruit which can have dangerous effects to your dog’s kidneys and can also cause damage to the heart and nervous system when ingested. Avocados, unripe tomatoes, and cherries are fruits which can be highly toxic to your dog – you should always do your research before giving your new pet a piece of fruit to make sure it is safe for them to eat.
Apples and strawberries are an example of fruits that are perfectly safe for your dog to eat.
Whilst a lot of vegetables are safe to feed your dog in moderate quantities, some can be poison to your dog. Onions and leeks should generally be avoided within your dogs’ diet, too much of it can destroy and rupture your dog’s blood cells, impacting their general health. Certain types of mushroom can be toxic to your dog, be especially wary of wild mushrooms that your dog may sniff out in the garden or whilst out on a walk. Raw potatoes can be toxic as they may contain traces of solanine that can be dangerous to your dog and cause upset stomachs.
What to do when your dog has eaten something it shouldn’t have
If you are worried that your dog may have eaten any of the foods listed above, even if they are not showing symptoms immediately, try to stay calm and ask your vet for advice as soon as possible.
2. Dangerous household products
Insecticides & rodenticides:
Solutions to keep insects and rodents at bay may be used around your house or in the garden, it should be a top priority to protect your dog from going near these areas as it could have fatal consequences.
Cleaning products and bleach can be highly dangerous if ingested by your dog. Reactions to the toxic chemicals can result in respiratory and stomach issues with long-term complications. Make sure your dog is in another room when cleaning using harsh products.
Batteries are small and easy to misplace within your house. Before bringing your new dog home, do a thorough check under cushions and sofas to ensure there is no risk of your dog chewing or swallowing a battery which contains harmful acids and metals.
Never give your pets human medication if you see that they are in pain, and make sure to store it far away from where they can reach. Appropriate medication will be prescribed by your vet following a thorough diagnosis, it should never be assumed that a human treatment will work the same on a dog – it is likely to make them more ill.
3. Poisonous plants for dogs
You may require your dog to spend time in the garden within the first few weeks of bringing them home, before taking them on walks further afield. It’s important to put precautions in place for any toxic plants that may be in your garden which you have never thought to consider before.
Daffodils are toxic to dogs and can cause physical symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea and salvation, ingestion can also lead to stomach issues and intestinal spasms, causing great discomfort for your dog.
Conker’s are poisonous to dogs as they contain Aesculin – a toxic substance which can cause vomiting and diarrhea if eaten by your dog. These symptoms could take several days to arise, so always consult a vet if you are worried your dog may have eaten a conker. They are also a choking hazard and could easily get stuck in the dog’s throat, making it difficult for them to breathe.
Most types of lily are toxic to dogs and the symptoms of lily poisoning in dogs can include upset stomachs, excessive drooling, mouth irritation, respiratory issues, and heart problems.
Thorns, ivy, and nettles:
As well as causing initial irritation to the skin and mouth, ivy and nettles can cause more severe allergic reactions as well as upset stomachs if eaten by your dog. Sharp thorns can easily get stuck in your dogs’ paw or skin and cause discomfort, potentially leading to infection if left untreated.
There is a full list of poisonous plants that could cause danger to your pet, if you have any of these plants in your garden, consider removing them before your new pet arrives. Alternatively, section off a part of your garden that is safe from dangerous plants where your dog will be allowed.
4. Electrical hazards for dogs
A curious puppy will be inclined to explore its new home, they are still learning about and adjusting to their new environment, so it is important that you prevent them from being exposed to the hazards in your home.
Exposed wires around the home are likely to be at a low level which your puppy can access and chew on, putting them at risk of electric shocks and burns. Try to tuck wires away where possible or move them off the floor so they are harder to reach. Have plenty of toys for your dog to play with to distract them from chewing cables, wires and plugs, especially for teething puppies.
5. Other pets
Be mindful of existing pets you have in your home when introducing a new dog. Especially be aware if you already own other dogs, as they could get territorial and be inclined to attack the new addition. Cats could also feel threatened or intimidated by the new dog, resulting in them feeling unsettled or anxious.
- Give the dog some time to settle into their new environment before introducing to other pets, this will prevent them from feeling too overwhelmed within the first few days
- Make sure each of your pets have space from each other and are not confined to one small space
- Don’t leave pets unsupervised together at first
- Feed them separately to begin with, animals can be especially territorial about their food which could lead to fighting. Give your new pet time to learn which food bowl belongs to them
Bites, wounds, and scratches may occur if your pets do not get along at first. You can treat these at home using simple animal first-aid techniques. It is worth equipping your home with a pet first aid kit for any minor injuries your dog may experience whilst getting accustomed to its new life. More hospital grade dressings and wound care solutions can be found on our veterinary essentials page.
There are plenty of opportunities for your new pet to get injured in and outside the home, it is important that you are prepared for any eventuality. Learn more about what should be included in an animal first aid kit so that you are prepared to give appropriate first aid treatment to your pet.
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