Ah, a dog's life. Rolling in the lush green grass of the front yard; lapping puddles in the garden to cool off; sampling the houseplants and pretty flower arrangements; and discovering tasty tidbits in the garbage can.
According to Amy D. Shojai, author of The Purina Encyclopedia of Dog Care, "Dog's use their mouths in lieu of hands, and so they pick up, mouth, chew and end up exposing themselves to all manner of potential toxins in and around the home."
We certainly don't want to see any evidence of automobile fluid spills - especially antifreeze. "Antifreeze is a very, very fast poison," warns Dr. Charles DeVinne of the Animal Care Clinic in Peterborough, New Hampshire. "To save an animal, you practically have to actually see him consuming the antifreeze and rush him instantly to the veterinarian to begin emergency treatment."
Lock away garden fertilizers, pesticides, rodenticides, pool chemicals and auto supplies like oil, antifreeze, and gasoline in adequately ventilated storage areas behind a door with a secure latch. Check containers for deterioration, as some products eat through plastic over time.
The Great Outdoors
Whether they're running loose or on a leash, dogs can pick up all sorts of harmful substances on their paws. Your dog will inevitably lick his paws and eat these substances if they're not immediately removed. Use petroleum jelly or mineral oil (never kerosene or turpentine!) to remove sticky substances, then wash with mild soap and water.
Keep all animals (and children too) off and away from newly fertilized lawns for at least 24 hours, longer if possible. The lawn should be completely dry before anyone, of any species, goes near it.
The compost heap can be irresistible for a curious canine, but molds, fungus, salmonella and even nastier stuff awaits him. Keep it well maintained, securely fenced and turn it regularly.
What if your careful precautions fail, and your dog gets into something he shouldn't? Call your vet immediately - or drive the dog to the veterinary emergency clinic. Bring the suspected toxin with you so the veterinarian will be able to identify the source of the problem and determine the appropriate treatment.
If you can't reach your vet or a clinic quickly, call the National Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.
Source: Wendy Christensen, Excerpted from the June 2000 issue of Your Dog.