Dog Safety



With Spring planting, one of the most important considerations should be what plants are safe for your pets to be around. It astounds us that most garden stores and nurseries never carry a list of toxic and non-toxic plants to assist the customer in making the right choices. Here is a link to a list from Doctors Foster and Smith:


A PawPassion Tip >

Check your yard twice a day for mushrooms then get rid of them immediately. DogifyHouse

Doggy Travel

Do you have travel plans for the holidays? If you are not taking Fido along, book reservations immediately at a kennel you know and trust. If your dog(s) has never been kenneled, here are a few tips:

• If you are unfamiliar with the kennels in your area, ask your vet for a recommendation. Go online and check out client comments if there are any. Ask your friends for their advice.

• If you have time before you leave, leave your dog at the kennel for the day. Come back that day a bit before closing time and bring him/her home. This could really ease separation anxiety and get your dog used to the kennel keepers, and the barking of the other dogs.

• Whenever you leave your dog at the kennels, be sure to bring along some of his/her favorite toys.

• Take an old towel or blanket and rub it on your bare arms and legs and leave it in your dog’s cage at the kennel so that your scent is there for comfort.

• If there are any food concerns, talk to the kennel manager when you make your reservation. Most kennels will give your dog its regular food if you provide it.

• If your dog needs medication, make sure that you leave the proper instructions with the kennel manager.

If you are taking your pooch on your trip, remember these important tips when you book a hotel.

• Always ask if the particular hotel where you want to stay will take pets. Will there be additional charges? Check to see if these are refundable or non-refundable fees. When I go to a small B&B with my dogs, I bring an extra top sheet to protect the inn’s comforter. (It’s always appreciated.)

• Before you go, find out what emergency vet clinics are nearby. Call the hotel and ask if they can recommend a vet during the day if needed. If you know your itinerary, then find out about emergency clinics along or near your routes.

• If your pet needs medications, make sure that you bring the medicine bottle with you and a copy of your vet’s prescription in case you need more medicine while traveling.

• When you leave for your vacation, call the hotel and remind them that you are arriving with your dog. Make sure that you understand the hotel’s pet policies for size, weight, and type of dog.

• Bring along a muzzle, just in case.

• Read the hotel’s pet policies carefully. Hotels commonly stipulate that pets cannot be left alone in a room.

• Be considerate. Hotels and their guests usually prefer dogs that aren’t barking or tearing things apart.

• Leave your dog in a crate before you leave the room to prevent escape when hotel staff enter the room.

• Ask the concierge about dog parks, trails, and restaurants that have outdoor seating so that your dog can join you.

Our affiliate hotel chains all allow dogs! Check out the list on the right.

© Bruce Malter, DogifyYard

Dogify Your Yard

Begin with your fences. Make sure that there is no way that your dog can escape by tunneling under or through a broken area of the fence. Make sure that your gates have locks and get into the habit of locking gates after every use. If you have a gardener, make sure that he understands the dangers of leaving a gate open for even a minute. Are your walls and fences high enough to thwart even the best four-legged escape artist? You might have to add a height extension to the top of your fence.
Can our dog fit under the wrought iron fence? You might have to reinforce it with chicken wire or heavier gauge fencing.
Plants are the next major concern.

• Go onto our link for the toxic and non-toxic plants from the ASPCA. Download it and take it with you when you go shopping for plants.

• Be careful about using pesticides and chemicals to get rid of snails. These can be highly poisonous and are always unsafe to use in areas where your dog might be.

• Be careful about fertilizers and mulch. Avoid any potting soil or soil conditioner with cocoa in it.

• You should check at least twice a day for mushrooms, toadstools, and other types of fungi, especially in the mornings or after a rainstorm.

• Foxtails should be removed immediately before they dry out. These irritating plants can get into your dog’s nose, mouth, eyes, and ears. It is a common, but expensive, painful and uncomfortable procedure to remove them, and they must be removed.

• If you are planting vegetables and are going to water frequently, remember that this could encourage mushroom growth. You might want to fence off your vegetable garden to keep your dog out of it.

• Check for debris that people might toss over into your yard or that birds might drop in it. These include cigarette butts, small toys such as balls, bottle caps, and bits of glass and plastic.

© Bruce Malter, DogifyHouse

Dogify Your House

Having dogs is much like having toddlers in the house. You have to make sure that everything is as safe as possible. The same care and concern one has about a child’s safety should be applied to your new dog, especially if it is a puppy and is teething.
The following are good places to start:

• Consider unplugging all non-essential lamps, small appliances, etc. You never want to have your dog chew electrical wires, especially if they are plugged in. This is extremely important during the holiday season. Get plastic plug covers if necessary.

• Do you keep candles lit? Make sure that your dog can’t reach them and knock them over.

• If you have a screen door, make sure it is latched properly in case someone opens up your front door.

• Does your dog drink from that magic water bowl which seems to always have water in it (aka, the toilet)? If so, then make sure that whatever chemicals are used to clean it are pet safe. Check the warning labels on the container. If necessary, call the manufacturer about your concerns.

• Floor cleaning products might leave a residue (carpet cleaners included). Check the label and/or call the manufacturer. When your dog walks on the freshly-cleaned floor, you can expect it to eventually lick its paws. You never want them licking the floor cleaner. I called Hoover about their rug cleaners and they sent me a multi-page fax listing all the chemicals used in the cleaning solution.

• Plasticized labels on blankets, sheets, new furniture, etc. dangle from the product and can be an attraction for your dog, especially a puppy. If swallowed, this could lead to an intestinal blockage, and, if your dog survives, an expensive operation.

• Keep all medicines well away from your dogs. My friend’s dog chewed up her medicine bottle and swallowed some of her pills. Her dog was saved by the vet, and it cost $2,000.

• Smokers should remember to properly dispose of all cigarette and cigar butts. By the way, secondhand smoke is as detrimental to your dog’s health as it is to a child’s.

© Bruce Malter, FirstAid

First Aid Kit for Your Dog

More and more families are preparing or have prepared for a natural disaster by drawing up plans and readying first aid kits. If you are a dog guardian, you must include your pooch in your plan. The rule of thumb is one gallon of fresh water for each member of your family per day for three days. Add a gallon of water for your pet for each day. Also, make sure that your dog is wearing a collar with emergency information on it, such as its name, your address, etc.

Here is a list of a few things to put in your kit for your dog:

• Antiseptic/double antibiotic ointment

• Rolls of gauze bandages

• Tape

• Hydrogen peroxide

• Prescription medication for your dog

• Blanket

• Eye wash

• Sterile pads for cuts

• Generic Benadryl (25 mg) and Benadryl ointment for spider/insect bites (Talk to your vet about this.)

• Tweezers

• Scissors (We recommend bandage scissors.)

• Rectal thermometer

• Paperwork from your dog’s vet including shot and vaccine records, prescription medicines, phone numbers for poison control (ASPCA’s emergency line – (866) 426-4435, a consultation fee may be charged), emergency vet’s phone number

• Muzzle

© Bruce Malter, in_car

Taking your dog with you for a ride

Almost every day, I see dog s in cars with their heads sticking out the window, taking in all the smells of the neighborhood, barking at dogs who are on a walk, and seemingly enjoying themselves.

However, this could be a very dangerous practice. Ever wonder why your windshield has all those pit marks? Those come from truck carrying certain loads, pebbles kicked up, and other bits and pieces of various debris. When your pooch is sticking his head out the window, his eyes, nose, and mouth could get the same type of damage. The injuries could be very serious causing blindness, expensive vet fees (just ask anyone who has had a dog with foxtails inside its nose), and other long-term injuries.

Once, while walking one of my dogs, a car came to a stop and the two dogs inside jumped out the window which was more than half-way down. My dog wasn’t aggressive toward them. However, other dogs might be. Both dogs escaped injury and the driver said he would keep the windows up from now on.

You should really consider a seat belt for your dog as well. This could save it from serious injury if there is a sudden stop. Also, some cities have laws against dogs sitting in the driver’s lap. A good friend of mine got a ticket for just that.

Check out one of our advertisers, Orvis, for their unique safety products for your pet. These include seat belts, fillers for the seat well, ramps, and dividers among other fine products. We have their link on our site.

© Bruce Malter, walking_dog

The Protocols of Dog Walking

One of the best ways to bond with your dog is to go for long walks. This gives your pooch a chance to explore the neighborhood and socialize. It also becomes a test to see how good of a neighbor you are. Here are some tips on how to avoid some potential problems.

Get to know your neighbors. Dog guardians probably won’t mind if your dog marks its territory on their lawn (try to use the parkway – the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street – whenever possible). Some neighbors do not like any dogs even walking on their lawns. Respect their property.

If you see your neighbor treating his lawn or garden, find out if there are pesticides or fungicides being used. If so, avoid that lawn/garden.

Be aware that there might be snail bait on the lawns and in gardens. Ask your neighbor if you see pellets on the ground. You might want to suggest that they use Sluggo, a snail bait which is pet safe. It would be worth it to buy it for your neighbor, if necessary.

Always carry a couple of plastic bags for poop pick up. When one of my dogs had diarrhea on the sidewalk in front of my neighbor’s house, I went back with scrub brush, towels, and water and cleaned it up.

If you use a leather or nylon leash, wrap the loop around your hand firmly, perhaps twice. If your dog bolts while you are distracted, the leash might slip out of your hand, so double-looping can help avoid this.

Never let your dog drink water from a puddle in the street. It could contain antifreeze (extremely dangerous) or other hazardous waste.

Keep your dog away from other dogs’ feces. Fecal matter can contain very dangerous viruses and/or parasites.

Be careful if another dog approaches. A wagging tail doesn’t always indicate that the dog is happy. Look for the hackles between their shoulders. If a dog’s hackles are raised, anticipate aggressive behavior.

Have a healthy respect for the potential of danger. Be aware of other animals out there that might cause your dog to want to chase. Keep your dog on its leash. In many communities there are steep fines for those who let their dogs roam or walk without their leash.

If your dog bites someone, you are responsible. Therefore, if you sense aggression keep your pooch on a tight leash until the distraction moves away. Some dogs aren’t fond of skateboarders, bicyclists, or skaters.

Make sure your dog stops at street corners. Give lots of praise for sitting when you give the command.

© Bruce Malter,

Walking, Not Bike Riding With Your Dog

One of the best ways to exercise and bond with your dog(s) is to go for long walks. Letting your dog explore (with the safety of the held leash) around your neighborhood allows it exercise, hone his or her social skills, and bond with its forever person.

One of the least desirable ways to try and do this is to pull your dog along while you go for a bike ride. Sure he loves to do it, you think, but are you really thinking of your dog? Consider these thoughts and you’ll be a much better guardian:

• You are forcing your dog to be in continuous run-mode. How would you like it if someone forces you to run continuously with let-up?

• If it wants or needs to stop to catch its breath, it can’t.

• You are telling your pooch that it’s alright to be in the street (a very bad habit).

• If you do stop and your pooch wants to take a drink from a puddle, there’s a chance that it could contain anti-freeze (very dangerous) or other toxic substances.

• If you have a male dog and it catches the scent of a female in heat, he could start to take off, pulling you off your bike.

• Are you really doing this to call attention to yourself?

• Your dog deserves better.

© Bruce Malter,

Walking in the Dark

A good rule of thumb when walking your dog at night is to always carry a flashlight. This is not only for your safety but also your dog’s safety from vehicles and other hazards. Besides the flashlight, a very good idea is to use a dog collar with a reflective patch so drivers can see your pet. A lot of people are also wearing reflective patches on their clothes.* With the flashlight, you’ll be better able to see broken glass, food and food wrappers dropped by inconsiderate people. I have seen chicken bones, rib bones, half-eaten pizza, and candy left on sidewalks.

There are other dangers to your pet lurking on lawns. Besides mushrooms that can literally pop up after watering or rainstorms, you want to be able to see if there is snail bait (resembling pellets) in the gardens where your dog might be sniffing.

Dog feces is another problem. Your dog will want to smell the feces to see which neighborhood dogs were there. However, some feces can be filled with parasites and germs. These include

• Coccidia, a one-celled parasite which can be fatal. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and dehydration.

• Parvovirus can be fatal. Symptoms include lethargy, pale gums, vomiting, fever, and diarrhea.

• Whipworms can cause anemia, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of weight.

• Hookworms can cause anemia and hookworms can be passed along to humans.

• Roundworms can affect the lungs and digestive system. Symptoms can include diarrhea, convulsions, and vomiting.

• Giardia can cause diarrhea and can be difficult to diagnose.

In suburbs near rural areas, one can have an encounter with a coyote, raccoon, opossum, or rat. Your ability to see a possible hazard could save you and your dog from a serious injury.

© Bruce Malter,