Keeping Your Dog Safe

A Shih-Tzu decked outfitted with his own life vest.

Your dog may be the baby of the family, but there's more to keeping this baby safe than his yearly trip to the vet. Having one veterinary visit each year is just the beginning of the quest for a safe and healthy life for your canine companion, and following some simple guidelines will help you keep him out of trouble the other 364 days of the year.

Food Safety and Your Dog

If you like to eat it, so does your dog, but that doesn't mean he should. Foods high in fat, sugar, and salt are poor choices for your pet. Table scraps are not a meal, and consistent snacking on people food can be a nutritional disaster. Your dog needs a solid combination of meat, carbohydrates, and vegetables, in about equal measure. Some fat is okay; processed sugar is not.

Another consideration is that some foods people eat don't only pose nutritional problems, for dogs, they are outright poisons. Although most people know that chocolate is bad for dogs, were you aware that even cocoa mulch in the garden can pose a threat if your dog likes to dig or roll in it? Commercially available bones can also be a hazard. As a result of processing, they are usually very dry and brittle, often shattering into shards that can be a digestive nightmare for your dog.

Foods like onions, garlic, and beans can be toxic, as can the pits, stems, and leaves of cherries, apricots, and plums. You should also be careful to keep your dog away from grapes, raisins, nutmeg, coffee grounds, and macadamia nuts.

Putting on the Pounds

Excess weight can lead to medical problems for your dog, including heart and joint conditions that can be painful, expensive, and possibly lead to a shortened life. Because you face some of the same issues, you may be a little indulgent about a couple of extra pounds, but it takes your dog a while to lose even a pound of extra flab, and treating him with prescribed medications on a regular basis when things get out of hand is a poor substitute for good nutrition and a healthy weight now.

Restrict your dog to the recommended portions of a quality dog food. If you supplement his diet with treats, cut back on his regular food. Limit his fat intake, and eliminate his consumption of sugar and salt. If you have the time, try making him dog treats. These can be made ahead as easily as you make cookies. Making some of his food will give you the satisfaction of knowing that you are giving him some extra tender loving care. It will also have the advantage of letting you know exactly what's going into his stomach.

Home Safety and Your Dog

Dogs should never be left unattended when they have been tethered. When out of doors, they can become the target of larger, aggressive dogs, even in an enclosed yard. Indoors they can accidentally fall off stairs, or become trapped underneath furniture and suffocate.

As with children, keep objects that are a choking hazard away from your dog. Even dog toys and small bones can present problems, so supervise playtime so you can keep an eye on what your dog is up to.

Keep sharp objects, like scissors and letter openers, out of reach, and make sure that all of your electrical outlets are covered. To protect your pet from falling objects, keep power cords out of areas where your dog may become entangled in them. If your dog likes to chew, it's particularly important to keep him away from electrical cords. Spray (temporarily unplugged) cords with pet repellent if chewing is a problem.

Holiday Safety and Your Dog

If you don't know it already, you'll soon discover that your dog likes holidays as much as you do. He likes the hoopla, special food, presents, visitors, and the opportunities special occasions provide to do and experience new things.

These often-chaotic times are prime occasions for your dog to get outside unsupervised, or into restricted areas of the house. Be kind to you home and your pet by having a containment plan when people come to call or your routine changes. This may be a special, quiet room where he can be safe for a while, or a decision to remove him from the home completely.

Your dog is part of the family, but he isn't human, even though it seems like it sometimes. He has special needs, and understanding how to keep him safe and healthy will help you prolong his life. Your informed supervision of his daily routine is the best gift you can give him.


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Gail McDonald - So excited just berofe leaving the Houston show, I came upon the McCartney's booth since this was my Mastiff, Dozer's 1st dog show I thought what a great thing to have his picture taken .WOW! This couple is fantastic Butch was laying on flat on the floor, peeking through legs of tripods, making kooky noises, just to get that perfect angle, expression and dog smile. He took 40 shots! I am so impressed with the proofs alone, can't wait to see the finished photos! Thank ya'll so much!
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