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Puppy-Proofing Your Home

Puppies can be a wonderful addition to any family, but there are plenty of things around the home that can harm them.

So, "Early Show" resident veterinarian Dr. Debbye Turner Bell shared pointers Thursday on puppy-proofing your house:

Puppies are just like curious toddlers. They're fascinated by everything, and desperately want to put everything in their mouths.

So, it's important for you to provide a safe environment to keep your puppy out of harm's way

Essentially, all the things you would do to baby-proof your home, you should do to puppy-proof your place.

To keep them out of cabinets, chemicals, and hazardous areas, you should install cabinet locks, toilet locks, outlet covers, and baby gates. Restrict your puppy's access to potentially dangerous places. Don't forget to bundle and hide electrical cords. Puppies love to chew on cords, and electrocution is a real danger if they chew through an electrical wire. Veterinarians often treat pups that have burns to their mouths from chewing through electrical cords.

The list is endless of substances and foods that can be a danger to your puppy. Here are just a few you should particularly careful to keep away from the pooch: dark chocolate, onions, garlic, raisins, grapes, toxic plants like azaleas, calla lilies, sago palms, and oleander, antifreeze, all medications, bones, coffee and tea, sugar-free gum, and garbage.

Also, don't have open flames in areas where your puppy has access. Move the cords for your blinds high, so they don't pose a strangulation hazard. Put baby gates on stairs. Young, uncoordinated puppies cannot manage them and may fall down the stairs. This could cause tremendous injuries.


Small bones or bone chips can lodge in their throat, stomach, and intestinal tract. These bones break into very sharp pieces of splinters. They can then cause extensive damage to the stomach and gastro-intestinal tract after swallowed. Sometimes a bone can even puncture the small intestines, creating a life-threatening or even fatal situation. Ham bones can also get stuck in the throat, stomach, or intestines. Beware of steak bones, too.


These contain sulfides, which can cause the destruction of red blood cells, and are toxic to animals. Onions and garlic can cause a disease called Heinz body anemia. Foods spiced with onion and/or garlic, or even onion powder or garlic powder should not be given to pets.


Raisins and grapes could pose a choking hazard, so keep them out of reach. It is not known what substance in grapes and raisins cause the problem but cases have shown that ingestion of either can cause significant kidney damage.


Chocolate can be toxic, or even fatal, to dogs (chocolate poisoning occurs most frequently in dogs, but other animals are susceptible, too). The amount of toxicity depends on the amount of a substance called theobromine in the chocolate. Unsweetened cocoa is usually the most toxic, and milk chocolate is usually the least toxic (the amount found in white chocolate or chocolate flavored dog treats is usually negligible). Chocolate poisoning requires emergency medical treatment. So, always keep chocolate well out of reach. Just 1/2 ounce of baker's chocolate per pound of body weight can be toxic. It would take a lot more of milk chocolate to do serious damage, but that would still upset an animal's stomach.


Coffee and tea contain caffeine, which of course is a stimulant. Breathing and heart rates go up when caffeine is ingested. Caffeine can also directly affect the muscles of the heart and the central nervous system.


Gum and candy containing the artificial sweetener Xylitol can cause a severe drop in blood glucose in dogs. As soon as 30 minutes after eating Xylitol, the dog can begin to show signs of depression, loss of coordination, and seizures.


At this time of the year, many people use antifreeze in their car radiators. Antifreeze is very dangerous to your dogs. The active ingredient, ethylene glycol, can cause fatal kidney damage in just a matter of hours. Do not let your pet get access to antifreeze!! It has a sweet smell and taste, so clean up any spills and put away all bottles out of their reach. If your dog ingests antifreeze and receives no medical attention, they could die in less than a day. Signs of antifreeze poisoning: depressions, lack of coordination, diarrhea, thirst, and seizures (ethylene glycol is the toxic agent. Antizol-vet can be given to stop the effect of the ethylene glycol) There is a safer antifreeze that is made with propylene glycol that doesn't damage the kidneys but it is still toxic and can damage the nervous system.


You should always use caution when burning candles around the house, especially if you have pets. Never leave lighted candles unattended, and be sure they are securely anchored so they won't be dislodged by the swat of a paw or tail. If you can, use only candles with domes or cylinders that enclose the flame.


The following information about poisonous plants is taken directly from the ASPCA website


Members of the Lilium family are considered to be highly toxic to cats. While the poisonous component has not yet been identified, it is clear that with even ingestions of very small amounts of the plant, severe kidney damage could result.

Sago Palm

All parts of Cycas Revoluta are poisonous, but the seeds or "nuts" contain the largest amount of toxin. The ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects, which include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure.


Members of the Rhododenron spp. contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system in animals. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.


All parts of Nerium oleander are considered to be toxic, as they contain cardiac glycosides that have the potential to cause serious effects-including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.


Seek medical attention immediately. One great resource is the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Animal Poison Control Center:1-888-4-ANI-HELP or (888) 426-4435 (there will be a graphic with this information available). The Center is the best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is dedicated to helping animals exposed to potentially hazardous substances by providing 24-hour veterinary diagnostic and treatment recommendations. The Center has specially trained veterinary toxicologists on-duty around the clock. They also have an extensive collection of scientific journals and books, as well as sophisticated databases available nowhere else. And, the center's clinical experiences collected over the past ten years can be rapidly reviewed for diagnostic and treatment insight.

NOTE: You'll need to give them a credit card when you call (A $65 consultation fee may be applied.)

Your puppy is depending on you to keep him safe and healthy so that he can grow up and live a long, happy life. That's not too much to ask for our favorite four-legged members of the family.

ALL THE PUPPIES SEEN IN THE SEGMENT ARE AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION at Petfinder's Burlington County Animal Alliance in Willingboro, NJ.

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