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Jul 03rd
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Elder care: Tips for keeping pets safe


Question: I (74) finally moved into a pet friendly apartment house. My children got me a 14-month old dog that weighs 20 pounds and has a lot of energy. She is housebroken, but chews a lot. I already love her to death. I’ve read I should pet proof the apartment. What does this mean?

Answer: Congratulations on getting a new friend, one who will give you unconditional love and keep you on your toes! You undoubtedly child-proofed your home when your children were young. Many of the same to-dos apply to pets.

According to Healthy Pets magazine, here are some of the precautions and things you should do to protect your dog. (Same ideas pertain to cats.)

The Kitchen: Dogs, in particular, love to eat practically anything. But certain human foods are very toxic to dogs -- grapes, raisins, currants, and chocolate.  These items are often found in mixed fruit and trail mix snacks and cereals. Vomiting, diarrhea, heart arrhythmias, and even tremors or seizures can occur. Take the pet to a vet IMMEDIATELY.

You should, therefore:

  • Keep counters clear. Dogs are notorious for getting at them. And cats are even worse.
  • When your grandchildren visit and you are feeding them or giving them snacks, keep the dog out of the kitchen. Fallen snacks disappear very quickly.
  • Secure your garbage can with a tight cover. (I separate food –into a closed can -- and paper products -- like food boxes -- into a separate grocery paper bad.) (When we moved into our house, years ago, we went to the supermarket and left our supper - a frozen steak - on the counter. When we got home, all that was left was Saran wrap in bits and pieces. Another dog of mine got into my secretary’s bag and ate her lunch.)

The Bathroom: Bathroom cleaning supplies and medications can be deadly to pets. Both dogs and cats love to chew. So store all cleaning items under the sink in a closed cabinet. All medications - whether prescription or OTC - should be stored in a closed medicine cabinet, and not on a shelf. The shelf may be too high for young children, but animals are very inventive if they want to get at something. Also, keep the toilet sink cover down. Both dogs and cats love to drink from the toilet. Cleaning products have deadly chemicals in them.  Items in waste paper baskets, whether in the bathroom or bedroom, provide “fun” items for both dogs and cats. (For awhile I had to keep the bathroom waste paper basket in the tub, so the dog couldn’t trash items all over. In the TV room, the waste paper basket is still up on a table and not on the floor. My dog would knock the basket over, especially when she got mad at me.)

The Bedroom: Sleeping pills (or any medications) should not be left on a night table or dresser. Often guests bring medicine in a plastic bag – a prime target for pets.  Jewelry, coins or other small objects attract pet, especially cats, curiosity. If swallowed, they pose intestinal obstructions. Ribbons are especially attractive to cats. Because cats jump up on all kinds and heights of furniture, furniture should she kept clear of small items.

The Living Room: Living and family rooms pose major challenges and the greatest dangers. Certain plants are poisonous to animals. Many of these plants are commonly found in the house.  Sago palm and lilies of all kinds cause severe gastrointestinal problems. Potpourri or air fresheners can cause breathing problems. Cigarette butts or even smoking cessation patches or gum can cause major problems and even death.  Of course wires, of all kinds, are play things for young dogs and cats of all ages. Small toys, there for your grandchildren, or small pieces of games or puzzles are targets for curious pets.

The Garage and Yard: Chemicals of all kinds are found in the garage and yard, fertilizers, pesticides, weed killers and pose a threat. If any chemical is used on the lawn or garden patch on an apartment balcony, keep the pet out of the area for at least 36 hours.

If your pet gets into a harmful substance, remove the pet from the area and take it to the vet.


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