You are going to bring home a new dog and you are very excited, you have
- carefully choosing the most nutritionally adequate foodstuffs
- bought toys to amuse her
- scheduled your first visit to your vet
- Check that your new companion is up to date with his or her vaccinations.
But before he crosses the threshold, it’s essential to make sure that your home is safe for your pet, both indoors and outdoors. Whether you’re adopting a puppy or a slightly older dog, you’ll want to make sure that your “home” remains a very safe and secure environment throughout your companion’s life. As you prepare your home to welcome your new friend, review the different rooms and consider the following points.
A number of foods that you certainly enjoy such as chocolate, coffee or onionsare particularly toxic to your dog. So make sure you keep them in a safe place and never leave them lying around on the kitchen table. Dogs are particularly greedy and thieving and will not hesitate to steal them if they can.
Also make sure that garbage cans are tightly closed with an airtight lid and placed in an enclosed area. Keep all cleaning products in a place inaccessible to your puppy. Finally, beware of plastic bags that could be shredded or swallowed…
The living-dining room
If you find it very pleasant to sit on your couch to cuddle your doggie, don’t forget that a puppy also has a tendency to chew anything and everything, including your beloved couch! Also make sure that all the electrical wires are tidy and don’t drag (or hang) as your puppy could chew on them or pull on them (and cause objects hanging on them to fall out). Make sure your chimney is well protected by a fireguard or protective grill.
Review your houseplantsSome may be poisonous to your dog, so before buying one, check that it is safe, for example, by checking the list of poisonous plants from the Western Animal Poison Control Centre, CAPAE. Finally, don’t forget to close the doors of your home (and your veranda for example) so that your puppy doesn’t escape.
Many dogs find it very interesting to drink water from the toilet.They play with toilet paper to shred it and stick their noses into bathroom trash cans left open.
Even if the consequences of these manias are most often harmless (although exasperating), you should nevertheless pay full attention to certain much more dangerous products (medicines, household cleaners, razor blades, products for unclogging drains) that you should always place in hermetically sealed cupboards.
Finally, watch out for potpourri-type decorations that contain different types of dried plants, some of which may be poisonous, or harder objects such as pine bark that could injure or get stuck if swallowed!
Like any other room in the house, the bedroom contains a number of dangers for your dog: unprotected electrical wires, blind or curtain cords and especially medicines (sleeping pills).
Also make sure that you do not leave any trinkets (such as coins) or jewellery lying around that could be swallowed and cause choking hazards. Also remember to keep bedroom windows closed to prevent your dog from escaping or falling out, as falling can be fatal. Finally, watch out for small toys that may be lying around in the children’s room and could be swallowed.
This is where we store a wide range of products, some of which can be potentially dangerous for your dog if swallowed. Pay particular attention, for example, to antifreeze, which contains ethylene glycol with a sweet taste that is particularly attractive to dogs.
When using it, make sure you never leave any product on the floor. (for a 10 kg dog, the consumption of 30 to 50 ml of product is fatal!).
Similarly, rat poison is not only dangerous for rats but also for any animal that consumes it. Finally, beware of the various products used for gardening (weedkiller, mulch…) they must not be left within reach of “fangs”.
If you live in a houseThere are a number of steps you can take to protect your dog from hazards in the outdoor environment. If possible, you should fence off your garden to prevent your pet from escaping, biting someone coming to ring the bell, or other animals from the neighbourhood from entering your home (risk of fighting).
Also protect your pool or pond as they represent a great danger for your puppy (risk of drowning if he can’t get back up). Remove all poisonous plants from your garden (e.g. oleander) and always keep an eye on your lawnmower or brushcutter (lock your dog in when you pass the mower to avoid any risk!).
Also watch out for various external parasites, such as ticks that may be lurking on the tall grass in your garden waiting for your dog to pass by (make sure your dog’s pest control treatment is still active). Finally, compost, mulch or fertilizers can all be toxic if your puppy ingests them.
Your dog is getting older
With age your dog may become a little less active and no longer have the same needs. in your home. Keep in mind that your beloved doggie is at risk, just like you, of developing various age-related health problems (osteoarthritis, incontinence, loss of visual acuity or deafness, etc.) and that you will have to plan for certain changes to meet his or her health needs. A dog becomes a “senior” dog when his physical abilities begin to diminish.
However, there are many ways to keep your senior dog healthy and safe in your home; with a few tips, you can even make your home more comfortable for your companion.
Facilitate its mobility
With age, bones and joints can become painful (osteoarthritis) and your dog will find it harder to climb the stairs or get on the couch for a cuddle. If you live in a multi-storey house and your doggie is having trouble getting up and down the stairs, place everything he needs (food and water bowls, toys and bedding) on the ground floor where he can move around easily. You can also offer a large, soft cushion on the floor instead of the basket, which is harder for him to get into.
There are also ramps specially designed for dogs that will help him get up and down the few steps of the porch separating your front door from the garden so he can get in and out easily (they are also great for helping him get in and out of the car; you can also make them yourself). Even as your pet gets older, he still loves to cuddle.
Therefore, if you realize that it’s getting hard for him to get on the couch (or if he can’t anymore), don’t hesitate to give him a little help (if he’s small, a sling can help you lift him) or place a small stool of intermediate height against the sofa to make it easier for him. Remember that you’ll also need to help him back down!
Finally, many utensils are available in stores to help your dog move around, do not hesitate to bring them with you if necessary (among others: ramps, boots, harnesses to lift him, anti-slip “nail guard” (toe-grip) or anti-slip socks, anti-slip mats).
Manage his loss of vision
With age your dog may gradually lose his vision, but when he is at home he can continue to move around normally if you help him a little: avoid changing the furniture so that he is not disoriented and can follow his usual path without difficulty.
You can place a few bells in the different rooms of the house which you will ring to guide him; you can place nightlights in all the rooms and especially in the dark corridors; finally you will have to talk to him before approaching him so as not to surprise him if he does not see you.
Similarly, a decrease in visual acuity may cause your pet to mistake small items that have fallen to the ground (coins, buttons, small toys) for treats. You should therefore be careful to pick up anything that falls on the floor immediately to prevent it from being swallowed. Also pick up anything that might get in his way and trip him up.
Beware of his untimely tail flapping…
As your pet gets older, he may be a little less careful about what’s around him when he starts flapping his tail. So your precious trinkets can be swept off the coffee tables before they smash to the ground!
To avoid any problems, remove anything that can break and place it high up, in a place inaccessible to the movements of joy and excitement of its tail.
Create a more comfortable siesta area
As your dog gets older, naps will take up more and more space in your dog’s schedule. However, it is likely that he will have lost some of the body fat that used to coat his body and provide him with a good protective cousin when he was lying on the floor in the past (that’s why this fat is also called “fat pad”!).
So don’t hesitate to buy a large, soft and comfortable cushion to protect your dog’s bones from the hard ground. Place it in a quiet area of your home so your dog can nap undisturbed.
Monitor diet and exercise
As a dog ages, he (and his owner) loses muscle mass and weight. You will need to provide your dog with a diet rich in protein and energy that is also easily digestible, to help slow down this muscle loss.
It is important to stimulate your dog by continuing his daily exercise and playing with him, even if he moves a little slower: this is essential for his mental and physical health (especially his muscles and heart).
Monitor his health
Have regular check-ups with your veterinarian. who will check at the same time that your dog is up to date with his vaccinations. Similarly, regardless of your dog’s age, the risk of infestation by external parasites (fleas, ticks) or internal parasites (digestive, cardiac or pulmonary) remains constant, but health problems related to these parasites may be more common in older animals.
That’s why it’s important that your pet is protected from these parasites throughout its life. If you pay a little attention, your home will remain a safe haven for your faithful friend from the first to the last day of his life.