Ah, a dog's life. Licking the kitchen floor for those last bits of snack; discovering tasty tidbits in the garbage can; and that all time doggie favorite, drinking from the toilet bowl.

Sounds wonderful - and familiar, right? ? But every one of these perfectly natural doggy activities can be harmful - or even fatal - to your pet.

The Kitchen

Most folks store remarkably large quantities of cleaning and household maintenance chemicals in the kitchen, often in a lower cabinet. Many dogs easily learn to open cabinets, tip over containers, break glass jars, or knock off loose bottle lids.

One solution? Put inexpensive childproof locks on all cabinets that contain anything that might interest, or harm, your dog. These simple plastic locks are easy for adults and quickly become automatic - but are virtually impossible for a child or pet to manage.

A second solution is to reconsider your housecleaning strategies. Rather than use caustic and poisonous chemicals, consider cleaning with steam. There are also citrus-based and other natural or 'green' cleaners that are safer than traditional chemical cleaners.

The kitchen garbage pail is full of potential dangers. Even a cover cannot deter a clever canine. Common throwaways, such as apple cores, potato skins and moldy cheese can make dogs sick. Other edible dangers around the house include pennies, metal game tokens, lead drapery weights, fishing sinkers, or any small, sharp object.

The Bathroom

It's a good practice to keep the toilet lid down. Your dog may be lapping up not only water, but also a nasty brew of bacteria and harsh cleaning chemicals. Satisfy your dog's thirst by keeping at least two bowls of cool, fresh water available at all times. Clean the bowls daily, scrubbing as necessary (with hot water - no soap or detergents) to remove scum, film or debris.

Less Obvious Villans

Rodenticides are usually incorporated into a fatty, grain-based bait that dogs just love. These are especially lethal when they're spread directly on the ground. Hiding poison-laced bait inside plastic containers offers little additional protection for dogs, who rip the containers apart to get at the 'treat' inside.

Carpet cleaners and 'carpet fresheners' are also dangerous to your pets. They leave residues in the carpet, upon which your dog will then loll and roll. Sooner or later the cleaner residue will be in his mouth.

Next Steps

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 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

Tags: Training and Behavior

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