Dogs are very much like small children: curious, innocent creatures who are at the mercy of electricity, household chemicals, and weird plants. Your benign looking house can quickly turn into a chamber of horrors for an unsuspecting puppy. Following are ten potential hazards for your Husky and tips to help you dog-proof your home to keep him safe.
ElectricityThe ordinary 110-volt circuitry in your house can easily kill your dog. Siberians don’t seem to be aware of this simple fact, however, and they enjoy pulling on electrical cords and dragging whatever is attached to them, usually lamps, to the floor. When the item is on the floor, the light bulb is available for swallowing. Puppies especially are very fond of eating light bulbs.
Attach all electrical cords to the baseboard where they’re inconspicuous or removed completely from your Husky’s reach. You can also raise cords out of reach with U-shaped cable brackets. One of the best solutions, however, is to protect the cable with corrugated wire loom tubing or plastic spiral wrap, available at office supply or hardware stores.
Try the Petcords Dog and Cat Cord Protector for about $16. It’s designed to protect your dog from chewing through insulated cables up to 10 feet. Crittercord is another option.
Don’t forget to hide your cell phone charger. If you leave your phone plugged in, you’re just asking for trouble. Keeping it unplugged when you’re not using it will save you money and help the environment.
Make sure every plugged-in item is firmly plugged in.
If your Husky is a victim of an electric shock, approach carefully. If your dog is still connected to the source, use a nonconductive object (like wood) to separate the two or shut off the current. Wrap your dog in a blanket and get him to the vet immediately, even if your dog seems okay. He could have invisible burns.
Rat and Mouse Poison (rodenticides)Rat and mouse poisons are highly toxic to dogs as well as rodents. Most of them are anticoagulants and interfere with the blood’s clotting ability. If your Husky ingests the poison, he can bleed to death internally. Unfortunately, the dog may exhibit no signs for three to five days after ingestion. So by the time you realize it, it may be too late. Fortunately, some newer products are packaged to be fairly inaccessible to dogs and are also less toxic to them. Still, you don’t want your dog eating rat poison.
If you have a problem with rats and mice, a professional company can advise you about safe methods to get rid of them.
Household Cleaning AgentsEvidence has been accumulating that some popular household cleaners may be dangerous for dogs. They contain phenol or phenol derivatives, which have been implicated in liver and kidney damage. Phenols are slow-acting toxins that may affect your dog so gradually that you don’t know what’s happening. They’re especially dangerous around puppies. Some experts recommend disinfecting with rubbing alcohol instead of products containing phenol; rubbing alcohol works fast and has no side effects. Caustics, like drain cleaners, automatic dishwashing detergents, and toilet bowl cleaners, are also extremely dangerous to dogs.
Make sure you keep all household cleaners in a place where your dog can’t get to them. And don’t just assume that he can’t get under your kitchen sink. Dogs have been known to get cupboard doors open. A high shelf in a pantry is a better bet.
Dozens of pet-safe cleaning products are available on the market (just search online). Here are a few good products: Puracy Natural All Purpose Cleaner; Puracy Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo; Clean + Green Pet-Safe Carpet Cleaner; Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent; Better Life Natural Dryer Sheets; Bean & Lily Pet-Safe Floor Cleaner; Eco-Me Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner; and Nature’s Miracle Stain and Odor Remover. Don’t forget plain old baking soda and white vinegar.
Medicine Chest MenaceThe American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says that 70 percent of pet poisonings are due to the ingestion of drugs. Curious dogs often get into both over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and they can easily end up dying. The overuse of opioids in the U.S. and other countries also puts dogs at risk. Scientists at the University of Guelph in Ontario found dogs that are smaller, younger, or non-neutered, or dogs that reside in areas with high opioid use/abuse rates, are at higher risk. The neutering aspect is interesting. It might be that non-neutered dogs have a stronger curiosity drive and attempt risky behavior, like swallowing whole bottles of pills. Or perhaps owners of non-neutered dogs are more likely to abuse opioids or at least leave them lying about the house.
Child-proof bottles aren’t dog-proof. A Husky can chew his way through a plastic bottle faster than you can get it out of his mouth. Keep medications locked up, and unless specifically advised by your vet, never give your pet human medication. Tylenol and ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin, Motrin) are particularly bad for dogs. Tylenol is toxic to a dog’s liver. Ibuprofen is extremely toxic to dogs, even in low doses. And even when dogs and people take the same drugs, dosages can vary considerably. Don’t gamble with your pet’s life.
Hazardous PlantsPoisonous and otherwise dangerous house plants include cactus, English ivy, dumb cane (dieffenbachia), wax begonias, yellow calla, peace lily, and philodendron. Both philodendron and dieffenbachia, members of the Araceae family of plants, can cause intense pain and allergic reaction; the latter can swell tissues in the mouth to the point of choking the dog. Dieffenbachia induces kidney failure. Clinical signs of Araceae poisoning include salivation, head shaking, pawing at the mouth, and vomiting or diarrhea. If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, get him to the vet, and bring a leaf from the suspect plant with you.
Household plants aren’t the only plant hazard for your dog. Some common poisonous yard, garden, and forest plants include the following:
- Azalea and rhododendron
- Bleeding heart
- Dutchman’s breeches
- Elephant’s ear
- English ivy
- Horse chestnut
- Morning glory
- Mother-in-law’s tongue
- Skunk cabbage
- Tomato and avocado leaves
- Tulip bulbs
Holiday HazardsI discuss the two types of holiday hazards here for your Husky:
Leftovers: Just because a food isn’t actually toxic doesn’t mean that it’s not dangerous. Gluttony is a deadly sin for pets, at least as far as turkey skin and fat go. They can give dogs a bad case of pancreatitis. You don’t have to be a Scrooge with your Husky. Be generous, and give him a nice plate of lean turkey breast instead of the skin or fat. And never give him cooked chicken or turkey bones — they can get stuck or splinter in the dog’s esophagus, stomach, or bowel.
Throw the bones away, if possible, in a large jar with a screwed-on lid. That will keep the smells in and save your trash from being ravaged by the neighborhood cats, dogs, and raccoons, who don’t need any turkey bones stuck in their throats either. Turkey stuffing sometimes contains onions, which are poisonous to dogs. Apple seeds, green potato skins, rhubarb, moldy cheese, and cherry pits are also bad for dogs. Although your dog isn’t likely to gobble down rhubarb, you never really know.
Even before your turkey dinner becomes leftovers, watch out. Most Huskies are excellent counter-cruisers and can lift a whole cooked turkey right off the old carving board when no one is looking.
The main component of many holiday foods seems to be chocolate, which includes the ingredient theobromine, a substance similar to caffeine, and one that is toxic to dogs. It causes vomiting, diarrhea, neurological problems, irregular heartbeat, and in some cases, even death. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. By the way, it’s toxic to people as well; it just takes a lot more of it to kill people. Death by chocolate . . .Decorations: Christmas can be especially grisly for dogs. In 2019, a German Shepherd in Manchester, England, devoured 30 feet of tinsel, which had to be surgically removed. Tinsel is the worst, but in fact, any edible decoration is hazardous. Unfortunately, a dog’s idea of what is edible is rather different from your own. For a lot of dogs, anything new or interesting that fits in their mouth is edible or lickable.
Ideally, the entire tree with its precious ornaments, dangerous lights, and strings of popcorn and other garlands should be kept in a room inaccessible to your dog. The temptation is just too great. At the very least, supervise your dog when he’s around this stuff. (Consider your playful Husky like a 2-year-old child and act accordingly.)
Garage DoorsAutomatic garage doors can be extremely dangerous for your pet. A dear friend of mine lost her Golden Retriever puppy when he was accidentally caught in just such a door. Thankfully, most modern units have emergency safety devices built into them, which will reverse the door if it strikes something. Regardless, always be careful and check under the garage door before (and during) closing it.
AntifreezeWithout a doubt, antifreeze is the most dangerous item in your garage. Autumn, when people are changing their radiator fluid, is the time of greatest danger. Antifreeze is, apparently, sweet and pleasant-tasting, but the main ingredient of many brands, ethylene glycol, is deadly poison to dogs, cats, and children. Its metabolites attack and destroy the kidneys, and the final results are coma and death. Unfortunately, when dogs start drinking the stuff, they don’t stop.
Because antifreeze is a necessary fact of life for people in colder climates, try using one based on propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. A propylene-glycol–based antifreeze is somewhat more expensive, but it’s worth it. Propylene glycol affects the central nervous system, but not the kidneys. Tufts Veterinary Newsletter estimates that a medium-sized dog would need to ingest about 20 ounces of propylene glycol before getting seriously ill, whereas only 2 ounces of the more deadly ethylene glycol can kill. Propylene glycol is less tasty to dogs than is its deadly cousin. Remember: Even though propylene glycol is considerably less toxic that ethylene glycol, it’s still a poison.
Most commercially sold antifreeze is 95 percent ethylene glycol. Some safer alternatives, using propylene glycol, include Sierra (Safe Brands Corporation) and Sta-Clean (Sta-Clean Products).The best solution when it comes to antifreeze is prevention. Keep all antifreeze locked away from anywhere your Husky may possibly go. And, no matter what kind of antifreeze you use, clean up any spills immediately. You can use cat litter to absorb most of the liquid; follow up with rags. And dispose of the stuff carefully. Although antifreeze is biodegradable, it takes a couple of months to degrade. Rinse the area of the spill thoroughly with water.
Lawn ChemicalsPets and chemicals don’t mix. Americans pour, shake, powder, rake in, and dump 300 million pounds of pesticides on their lawns every year. This stuff isn’t good for your pets — or your kids! It’s also terrible for the environment. Most of these chemicals aren’t water-soluble, which means they’re going to be in your yard for a long, long time. They’re also poisonous.
So, if your lawn could double as a chemistry lab experiment, keep your dogs away from it. Pesticides come in two basic kinds: organophosphates and carbamates. Both types have similar toxic effects. If your dog does inadvertently walk on freshly applied chemicals, wash his little tootsies with a gentle shampoo as soon as possible.
Consider using organic, rather than chemical, treatments for your lawn, such as flea-eating nematodes and the seeds from the Asian neem tree. Both help rid your lawn of fleas and other pests naturally. The environment will appreciate it. Always dispose of yard-product containers safely away from pets and children. If you’re out to get slugs, make sure the slug bait is safely enclosed. Or even better, try going without lawn chemical altogether. Get rid of the grass and plant native plants. You’ll be helping birds, pollinators, wildlife, and the planet.
Swimming PoolsThe family swimming pool can be a death trap to your pet. Although many Huskies enjoy swimming, be sure that you never leave your dog alone — even for five minutes — in the pool. A good rule is, if you wouldn’t trust the toddler, then don’t trust the dog.
If you do allow your Husky to use the pool, always show him how to find the stairs. Sometimes dogs get confused about which way is out. They should be trained to enter and exit the pool by the stairs only.
If your Husky doesn’t enjoy swimming, please don’t force him to take part. You can encourage him to investigate the pool, but dragging or carrying a reluctant dog into the water just makes everyone unhappy.Winter covers for pools can be dangerous. Unless you have a LOOP-LOC-type cover, make every effort to keep your dog and your covered pool strictly separated. Dogs cannot distinguish pool covers from solid ground until it is too late. And if they walk on the pool cover, they can get trapped and drown.
You can purchase a life vest for your dog; they come in various sizes and are really handy, especially if you and your dog will be traveling to a lake or going boating.