Congratulations on the purchase of your new home! Although the hustle and bustle of moving in will keep you busy, be sure to take the time to thoroughly inspect the property of your new home before you introduce your canine companion to his new playground. From poisonous plants to hidden gaps in the fence, addressing all of the potential hazards will go a long way toward preventing tragedy for your furry friend.
Walk the Perimeter
Before you even bring your dog to the family's new home, take a stroll around the entire perimeter of the yard. If there is no fence, be sure to have one installed immediately to keep your dog safely contained when he spends time frolicking outdoors. If there is already a fence in place, inspect every inch of it. Make sure that there are no holes along the bottom of it where a previous owner's dog or backyard wildlife dug underneath as a means of escape, and fill in any holes that you find. Look for any gaps through which an animal can squeeze through. Repairing these gaps will keep your dog in and other dogs out. If the fence is made of chain link material, be sure that there are no pieces of bent metal sticking out to inflict lacerations to your dog's skin or poke his eye. Make sure that the fence is sturdy enough to stand up to the pouncing of an excited dog, and verify that the gate latches securely. Consider placing a padlock on the gate's latch so that prying paws cannot pop open the gate. If the fence is in complete disrepair, play it safe and invest in a new fence. Finally, if there is a swimming pool in the yard, conduct the same inspection of the fence that surrounds the pool to prevent accidental drowning.
Stop to Check the Flowers
Some of the most popular landscaping plants are toxic to dogs and cats when eaten. Prevent your dog from grazing on the following plants:
- Rose of Sharon
- Morning glory
- Lily, most varieties
This is only a partial list of the hundreds of plants that can pose toxicity in your pet when consumed. Identify every tree, shrub, vine and flower that adorns your new property. A horticulturalist at your local nursery can help you. Then check with the Pet Poison Helpline to determine if each plant is toxic, and take steps to keep them out of mouth's reach of your pet. As you take stock of the landscaping, determine whether or not cocoa mulch was used. To avoid cocoa mulch toxicity, swap it out for safer mulching alternatives, such as untreated wood chips. Be aware that bulbs, such as tulip bulbs, are highly toxic and may be discovered during the dormant season if your dog goes digging for treasures. Remove any wild mushrooms that you discover to prevent mushroom toxicity in your dog.
Take the Bait
Check your entire property, including the perimeter of your house's exterior, for pest control products, such as rodent bait and slug bait. Remove these items at once. There are several types of rodenticide, and although there is a treatment protocol for anticoagulant rodenticides, all forms of rat poison threaten the life of your dog.
Secure the Shed's Contents
If there is a storage shed on the property, confirm that the door to the shed closes and latches securely. Storage sheds usually contain a vast inventory of poisonous products that can be harmful to your pet, and former homeowners often leave these items behind when they move. Some such items include the following:
- Swimming pool chemicals
- Gardening chemicals
- Windshield wiper fluid
- Fire starter fluid
For an extra measure of safety, especially if you also have children in your family, consider placing a padlock on the door to ensure that toxic items remain safely stowed.
Until you have managed to complete these pet-proofing measures, restrict your dog's outdoor activity to walking on a leash. Once you declare the property to be safe and secure, only allow your dog outside under your close supervision until he has thoroughly conducted his own inspection and discovered any perils that you may have missed. By taking the time to pet-proof your property, you and your dog will be rewarded with plenty of safe outdoor living enjoyment together at your new address.
If you run into any problems, don't hesitate to bring your dog into a veterinarian.