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A General Guide to Puppy Safety

Know how to keep your puppy safe.

When you're bringing home a new puppy, you want to do everything you can to keep him safe and happy. Here, we've collected some of the main things you'll want to keep in mind to help ensure your puppy's safety.

Be Aware of Poisonous Plants

Puppies like to chew on things, and that includes plants. It's important that you know which plants, both inside and outside, that might be toxic for your puppy to ingest. You can find a general list here, "Poisonous Plants for Dogs," but you should research each plant in your home or on your property individually.

Even if the plant is not specifically toxic to your dog, eating plant material of any kind often results in vomiting and diarrhea, so it's best to keep all indoor plants out of reach of your puppy and keep him on a leash when he's outside.

Know Which Human Foods Are Toxic to Dogs

There are many foods that are fine for humans to eat but that cause illness or even toxicity in dogs. Review our slideshow, "Foods Toxic to Dogs," to beef up on which foods are toxic.

In general, it's a good idea not to feed your puppy human food because it can lead to begging behaviors and obesity. But the items from the toxic foods list could quickly cause an emergency situation for your puppy if he gets ahold of them. Call your veterinarian, your local emergency vet, or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661 if you suspect your puppy has eaten anything from the list.

Secure the Garbage Cans

Puppies have great noses, and they may try to help themselves to leftovers if they can get into the garbage can. This can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, intestinal obstruction with non-food items or bones, or even toxicity.

Keep all garbage cans, including those in the bathroom and office areas, covered securely or up high enough that your puppy can't get into them.

Be Vigilant with Securing Medications

Many human medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, are extremely dangerous for dogs. Always keep any medications, including those prescribed to your puppy, out of his reach and take care that you don't drop any pills when you are getting one out of the bottle.

Always Supervise Interactions with Kids and Other Pets

Children don't always know the right way to handle puppies and may inadvertently hurt yours. Alternatively, a puppy may scratch or bite a child, resulting in injury.

Other pets in the home might not take to your new puppy immediately, and cats and older dogs could hurt the puppy either purposely or by accident.

Always supervise your puppy when your child or other pets are interacting with him.

Close Toilet Seats and Don't Keep Sinks or Buckets Full of Water

Puppies can scramble into and drown in open water containers, so it's crucial that you not leave sinks full or buckets of water sitting around in the puppy's environment.

Keep toilet seats down both to decrease the risk of drowning and to limit the risk of a puppy becoming poisoned by inadvertently drinking toilet water with cleaner in it.

Lock up Cleaning Supplies

Many cleaning supplies are toxic to pets if ingested. If your puppy licks up these substances or gets them on his paws and cleans them off, he could be poisoned. Many cleaners are also irritating to puppies' eyes when they are exposed to them, so it's important to keep your puppy out of the room when you are using cleaners.

Lock the cleaners in a cupboard using child safety locks or keep them up high so your puppy can't get into them. This includes cleaners and other chemicals outside or in the garage. Keep them locked up or don't allow your puppy access to areas where they are kept.

Laundry (and dishwasher) pods are extremely dangerous for dogs; keep them locked up.

Tie up, Cover, or Remove Electrical Cords

Puppies often chew on electrical cords, and this can result in severe burns or death from electrical shock. Remove cords where possible, secure them together up high when you can, or cover them with a cord-covering system.

Secure Drapery Cords

Cords that control blinds or drapes are a strangulation hazard for curious puppies, who may get wrapped up in them. Keep these cords secured up high so your puppy can't get to them.

Keep Clothes Picked up and Secure Laundry Baskets

Puppies are more likely to chew up and swallow non-food items than most older dogs, so it's important not to leave socks, underwear, or clothes with strings on them lying around. This includes keeping laundry baskets securely closed or up high.

Use Baby Gates to Keep Your Puppy off Stairs

Playful puppies may fall down stairs, injuring themselves severely. Keep stairways gated off so your puppy can't get near them.

Always Supervise Your Puppy Outside

The out-of-doors can be dangerous for a curious puppy, so it's important to provide proper supervision when yours is out there. Keep your puppy on a leash or stay close to him in a fenced yard so he doesn't chew on, eat, or otherwise get into anything unsafe. Secure open water sources and chemicals. If you are in an unfenced area with your puppy, keep him on a leash so he doesn't inadvertently escape, get hit by a car, or get into other trouble.

Keep Your Puppy Safely in a Crate When You Can't Supervise Him

Crates are a wonderful way to keep your puppy safe. When you must leave him at home or are unable to supervise him because you are sleeping or otherwise occupied, a dog crate is the safest place for him. Crates also help tremendously with house-training. You can learn more in our article, "Crate Training."

Visit the Veterinarian and Set up a Care Schedule

Keeping your puppy safe includes doing what you can to protect him from parasites, deadly canine viruses, and bacterial infections as well as monitoring to ensure he is growing properly and treating any problems that come up promptly.

Visiting your veterinarian routinely will help you keep your puppy as safe as possible. He or she will recommend tests, vaccinations, and preventative medications to keep your puppy healthy as well as perform thorough physical examinations to catch problems. The doctor will also be able to tell you about any issues that might be common to your dog's breed or breed mix, so you can be aware of what to watch out for.

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