Protecting Your Pet From Harm

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Parents of young children know to "baby-proof" their homes, blocking electrical outlets from tiny fingers, locking up medications, moving household items with sharp edges, putting up gates at worrisome doorways, etc. Like these parents, pet owners must look at their surroundings with a keen eye to prevent harm to their companion animals. Here are some guidelines to consider:

• Quickly clean up any spilled antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol. It has a sweet taste that attracts animals but is deadly if consumed in even small quantities. Buy antifreeze that contains propylene glycol, which is safer for animals if ingested in small amounts.

• Be aware chemicals used on lawns and gardens, such as fertilizer and plant food, can be easily accessible and fatal to a pet allowed in the yard unsupervised.

Never give chocolate to dogs, cats, and ferrets. It is poisonous.

Use prescription flea and tick control products; they are much safer for your pets and are also more effective. Remember to first consult your veterinarian before using any new product.

Medicines for people can all be toxic to animals. Keep them away from curious pets, just as you would a child. Be aware of tubes that can be chewed through or pills that drop on the floor.

Poisonous household plants include azalea, cherry laurel, dieffenbachia, elephant's ears, geraniums, mistletoe, oleander, philodendron, poinsettia, and true ivy, among others.

• Some reports have linked grapes and raisins to canine renal failure.

String, yarn, rubber bands, socks, pieces of carpet, small bones, small balls and even dental floss are easy to swallow and can cause intestinal blockages or strangulation.

Toys with removable parts - like squeaky toys or stuffed animals with plastic eyes-can pose a choking hazard to animals. Take the same precautions with pets as you would with a small child.

Keep your pet restrained in the car. A carrier for a cat or small dog will do. Larger dogs may need a pet safety harness. It's against the law for a dog to ride, unharnessed, in the open back of a truck.

• Consider your family's fire safety plan and how your pets fit into it. • Close washer, dryer and oven doors promptly.

Secure your trashcans to keep pets from getting into them and finding things to chew.

• In hot weather, make sure your pet's shelter stays cool. Any place that's too hot for you is too hot for your pet.

• Be sensitive to the heat on your dog's paws when the two of you go for summer walks.

Never, never leave pets or children in a hot car - even for a very few minutes!

Teach your dog - and children - TO SWIM!

Courtesy: SPCA of Central Florida