Anyone who’s ever had a puppy knows that they’re naturally inquisitive, exploring every nook and cranny and reacting to the sights, sounds, and smells all around them. But that curiosity can sometimes lead to serious illness or injury, so it’s important to make your home safe for your new arrival. From toxic foods to dangerous household appliances, here’s our guide to how to puppy-proof your house.
How to puppy-proof your house
Watch out for these common household hazards, which can be dangerous for puppies.
1. Electrical wires
Young animals love to chew when they are teething. You’ll want to make sure they can’t access electrical wires around the house. Electrical shock can cause burns in the mouth, breathing problems, or cardiac arrest.
Bones can splinter and cause serious injury, such as major bleeding in the mouth or perforation of the esophagus or intestines, requiring emergency surgery.
3. Household chemicals
Many common chemicals and chemical solutions can cause burns, bleeding, blindness, or death. If you know your dog has ingested any of these substances, do not attempt to make them vomit and seek vet help as soon as possible. To properly puppy-proof, keep all of the below products locked up and away from your pup:
- Drain cleaner
- Oven cleaner
- Rat poison
Pets are attracted to the odor and sweet taste of antifreeze. Store it high and tightly sealed, and take care to wipe up any spills on the garage floor. Window-washing solution may also contain antifreeze. Antifreeze quickly causes neurological symptoms and kidney failure when ingested. If this happens, take your dog directly to the vet for care.
5. Poisonous plants
As you puppy-proof your house and outdoor space for your new arrival, it may mean saying goodbye to some of your plants (or moving them out of your pup’s reach). Many can be poisonous for dogs and other pets, causing skin infections, kidney failure, liver failure, or severe irritation to the gastrointestinal tract. Often, the stem, leaves, flowers, pollen, and bulb are toxic. See the ASPCA website for more information. Some common plants that are dangerous are:
- Elephant Ears
- Jerusalem Cherry
- Lilies (various varieties)
- Sago Palm
- Snake Plant
6. Lawn treatments
When puppy-proofing your house, don’t forget about the outside area: If you treat your lawn with chemicals, then you’ll want to keep your puppy off the grass. Be sure to read and follow the label directions on the lawn treatment carefully, as well, and if you use a professional service, you’ll want to inform them of your new addition so they can help keep your dog safe.
Another important lawn care tip? Make sure you remove any mushrooms, as some varieties can cause liver failure if your dog ingests them.
7. Your personal care products and medications
Don’t give your pet any of your own personal care products or medications (including vitamins, supplements, and other over-the-counter medications) before checking with your veterinarian. Many can be lethal to pets, including:
- Essential oils
- Hair perm or dye
- Inhalers (dogs may think they’re a chew toy)
- Pepto Bismol
- Skin creams
- Sleeping aids
8. Plastic bags and bubble wrap
Do not leave packaging materials like plastic bags or bubble wrap out. Inquisitive young pups can suffocate or end up with an intestinal obstruction.
9. Heat-producing devices
Watch out for hot irons, coffee pots, kettles, ovens, stoves, and space heaters. Always use a fireplace screen to keep your puppy away from the fire.
10. Hot tubs and swimming pools
When it comes to hot tubs and swimming pools, puppies can accidentally fall in and not be able to get out, leading to accidental drowning. Keep covers on when you’re not using them.
11. Holiday decorations
Keep holly, mistletoe, glass ornaments, candles, lights, and tinsel out of reach. Do not feed leftovers to your puppy, and be sure chocolate is kept hidden.
12. Bite-size trinkets
Rule of thumb: If any or all of something will fit in your dog’s mouth, then you should consider it dangerous. Be sure to empty trash cans regularly or keep them out of reach. Because what goes in must come out, often via surgery! A few particular items to watch out for are:
- Birth control
- Cigarette butts
- Pantyhose and underwear
- Rubber bands
- Sanitary products
- Sewing needles
- Thread, string, ribbons
Chocolate can be dangerous for your dog, and baking chocolate is the worst. It contains theobromine, a powerful stimulant that is toxic for pets. Sweets like cakes and cookies can also upset a dog’s gastrointestinal tract and lead to diarrhea and vomiting or pancreatitis, which can be serious.
This artificial sweetener is contained in many candies, sugar-free gums, and some peanut butter brands. But beware: It is toxic to dogs in very small quantities and can be fatal.
15. Other toxic foods
Just because you can eat it or drink, doesn’t mean your puppy can. Many common foods are dangerous for dogs, even in small amounts, so be sure to think about what you keep on the counter or in the pantry while puppy-proofing the house. For example, a few grapes or raisins can cause kidney damage in some dogs. Toxic foods to keep away from curious pups include:
- Energy drinks
- Macadamia nuts
- Raw bread dough
- Under-cooked or raw meat
- Under-cooked or raw eggs
For further information please contact Animal Poison Control at 1-888-426-4435 or consult the ASPCA.
Remember, even if you’ve gone through everything on this list, every home is different, so you’ll want to customize your puppy-proofing plan to your living quarters and your individual pup. Always consult your veterinarian if you’re unsure about whether something could be dangerous for your puppy.
Learn more about preparing for a new puppy with our new puppy checklist and this guide to crate training a puppy.