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Your Happy Pet: Puppy proof your home

Original Publication Date: September 22, 2014
By C. Sue Furman, Ph.D.

A puppy is a furry energetic bundle of curiosity, so do a bit of puppy proofing before you bring one home.

Let's consider the many items that can tempt a teething puppy looking for anything interesting to chew.

Electric cords to lamps, TVs, computers and a host of appliances from toasters, coffee pots and hair dryers to electric razors are common in any home. A puppy may see them as wiggly, fun chew toys. The potential danger of burns in the mouth, electric shocks or even death by electrocution are not on its mind. Securing electrical wires is a must. Spiral cable wrap and cord concealers are especially helpful to hide wires associated with computers, printers, scanners and other office equipment. Wires that dangle from table lamps can be taped to the wall or table leg. Running lengths of wires through sections of PVC pipe also works well.

Puppies are somewhat indiscriminate in their choice of chew toys, so cleaning supplies and human and canine medicines need to be kept out of reach. A determined teething pup can make short work of plastic bottles - even those with child proof caps. Cabinets with child proof latches can be very helpful in keeping these items out of a puppy's reach.

Plants are another danger that are easy to overlook, but pups see them and love to chew their leaves. Common house plants that are toxic to pets are dieffenbachia, philodendron, azalea and calla lilies. They should be set on high tables or shelves to keep them and your puppy safe.

Trash cans present potential hazards to a pup because many of our tossed articles can be quite appealing and dangerous to a pup. Razor blades or other sharp objects can cause major damage to a pup's mouth while other items might prove poisonous. For the safety of the pup, use trash cans with self-closing lids or keep trash cans in cabinets with child-proof latches.

A curious pup may find many items of clothing to be very attractive chew toys. If swallowed, they can cause serious intestinal blockage. Never leave clothing on the floor. It should be placed in a laundry hamper with a lid or one that is kept in a closet. The Veterinary Practice News 2014 X-ray Contest reported a 3-year-old great Dane taken to a veterinarian because of a daylong episode of vomiting. The veterinarian found 43 and a half socks in his stomach.

Puppy proofing may need to continue past the teething stage for some.

Give your new pup lots of love and attention and provide it with safe chew toys from the pet store. Puppy proofing before the arrival of a curious and energetic puppy will help ensure it grows up to be a happy, healthy companion who will shower you with unconditional love for years to come.

Sue Furman, Ph.D, has published two books and a DVD on canine massage and teaches classes in pet massage, acupressure, first aid and CPR. See her schedule and submit questions at