Billy Rafferty and dog
Photo: Michael Vistia
Dog-Proof Your Home
Countertops, cabinets and yards are teeming with dangers. Examine your home and yard from Fido's point of view. Then, place everything out of reach and behind securely closed doors. Ensure that your yard is fully enclosed. A dog can dig under a fence or jump over it—especially if she sees a squirrel. Baby- and child-safety techniques and products work for dogs too. Keep your dog in a crate while he's unsupervised.

Choose Toys and Bedding Wisely
Purchasing a few good quality toys that will withstand your dog's chewing strength is better than buying many cheap toys that break up and become choking or obstruction risks. Buy toys specifically designed for dogs and choose items with your particular dog in mind. A heavy chewer should have hard rubber toys, not an easily destroyed soft fluffy plaything. Inspect and wash your dog's bedding at least every month. If the bed has a crumbling foam core or a ripped cover, replace it.

Pay Attention to the Weather
Extreme weather conditions are hard on a dog. Paw pads and ear tips can freeze in the cold and exertion in high temperatures can cause heat stroke. Use canine sunscreen and protect your dog from the elements with properly sized and comfortable coats and boots.

Celebrate Holidays Safely
Dogs enjoy celebrating with the rest of the family, but some holidays are more dog friendly than others. Tinsel from a tree, Valentine's Day bonbons, Easter lilies and Halloween treats pose significant dangers to your furry pal. Dogs are extremely curious, especially puppies. Never leave Fido unsupervised in a room with holiday decorations, plants or treats. If Fido is anxious during celebrations, talk to your veterinarian about strategies for helping him remain calm and happy. 

Travel Safely
Purchase and use canine safety restraints in your vehicle. An unrestrained dog is a danger to himself, the occupants of the car and everyone else on the road. Unless your pooch is wearing a helmet and goggles keep his head inside your vehicle. Debris, bugs and air pollution can damage his eyes or cause internal ear injuries. The cold air being forced inside his nose and lungs can harm Fido's respiratory system. Worse yet, his head could hit a tree branch, a mailbox, a side-view mirror, a road sign or even a bus. 

Never Leave Fido Unattended
Even in mild weather or in the shade, the inside of a car can reach a deadly temperature in a matter of minutes. Rolling down the windows does nothing but provide an escape opportunity. In the winter, the temperature inside a vehicle plummets quickly and Fido can literally freeze to death. If you leave your motor running, carbon monoxide can rapidly build up inside the car. Avoid the temptation to tie up your dog outside while you run into a store. He can hurt himself and he's a sitting duck for a pet thief or bully.

Watch Where You Walk
When you and your pooch are strolling the town, be aware of your surroundings. Avoid broken glass and don't let your dog eat anything off the ground. Fido does not know the difference between rat poison and Snausages.

Other People's Homes
Other people may not be as conscientious about canine safety as you are—especially if they don't have pets. Before unleashing your dog, check the home and confirm all doors are closed and all hazards are cleared up. If you lose sight of your dog, find him. He should never be unsupervised in someone else's home. You have no idea what's there and the home owner probably doesn't either.

Planning for Emergencies
Include your pets in your disaster plan and never leave them behind. Don't forget your dog when you are preparing a will. If you pass away or become ill or incapacitated, Fido still requires love and care. Choose a responsible, trustworthy and willing guardian and make it legal. 

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