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Dog-proofing your home environment

Dog owners often worry their dog will damage the home, but the home can also do damage to your dog.
Many items around the house - including human food, house plants and common cleaning products - are toxic to dogs. They can cause diarrhea, kidney or liver failure, heart damage or even death.
To create a safe environment, it’s important to dog-proof your home the same way you would child-proof it. So let’s look at some of the dangers lurking in the home and what you can do to make it a safer environment for your dog. Remember that forewarned is forearmed!
It is tempting to treat our canines with ‘people food’ but remember dogs are not built the same way as humans. What can nourish us can poison our dogs.
1. Human foods that are toxic and should never be given to dogs include: chocolate, citrus (lemons, limes, etc.), avocadoes, onions, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, garlic, nutmeg, coffee and caffeine, alcohol, xylitol (an artificial sweetener used in diet foods and some baked goods), and fat trimmings and bones.
2. Foods that can be given to a dog in small amounts include lean cooked meat, some vegetables such as carrots, green beans and cucumbers; some fruits such as apples, watermelon (no seeds though)and bananas; peanut butter, and cooked white rice and pasta. Always introduce any new food to your dog in a small quantity under supervision to observe if there are any adverse or allergic reactions.
3. Limit your dog’s exposure to salt, sugar, nuts and dairy and processed foods.
Dogs are curious about plants and may, out of boredom or for reasons unknown, chew on houseplants or garden plants. Most dogs like eating grass, (which is another topic but is mainly associated with digestive issues.)
1. Houseplants that are toxic to dogs include azaleas, rhododendrons, daffodils, tulips, cyclamens, ficus (also known as Indian rubber plant or common fig), peace lilies, aloe vera, sago palm, asparagus fern, dieffenbachia, ivy, jade, elephant ear, and satin or silk pothos. Make sure your dog does not have access to these plants.
2. If treated with a pesticide, many house and garden plants could put your dog at risk of getting sick.
3. And speaking of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, be aware of their toxicity to dogs and avoid them is possible. On the other hand, manure, while it may give your dog bad breath and a mild tummy upset, won’t kill him or her.
1. All medications and prescriptions, including anti-depressants, ibuprofen and cannabis, should be kept out of reach of your dog.
2. Flea and tick repellants are toxic to dogs, especially if a dog decides a flea collar would make a good chew toy. Small dogs are especially at risk (which is true of any ‘toxic to dogs’ substance).
3. Anti-freeze, bleach and many household cleaning products are especially poisonous and toxic to dogs. If you use a ‘by the flush’ toilet bowl cleaner, make sure it is safe for pets. And always make sure chemicals and cleaners are kept secure – don’t assume your dog can’t open a cupboard!
4. Rodenticides for mice and other vermin are extremely dangerous, and if they are used they should never be in contact or reach of your dog.
5. Essential oil diffusers can cause health issues in dogs, especially certain oils such as teatree, citrus or eucalyptus. However, some essential oils could be beneficial to dogs so it is perhaps best to consult a veterinarian before using a diffuser in your home.
Keeping the home safe for our dogs is mostly common sense, but it is useful to understand where the risks are and how to prevent them. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes. So here’s to a healthy home for ourselves and our pets!

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