I nodded off at 2am, only to startle awake into every dog owner’s nightmare: the emergency vet’s waiting room.
A few hours earlier, I’d come home from a family dinner to find Benji, our bichon, unresponsive on the floor. As he lapsed into a seizure, the only clue we needed lay close by: the torn wrapper of a large chocolate Santa.
Over the phone, the emergency vet checked the ratio of chocolate to our dog’s weight. If we didn’t get him there fast, we could lose him. It felt like our car broke the sound barrier as we rushed to save him.
True story: my dog ate chocolate
Benji’s stomach was pumped full of charcoal, his fluffy white coat an ash grey by the end of the three hour ordeal. We learned several hard lessons that day (to the tune of $900), not to mention the crushing knowledge that we caused our own dog to get poisoned by simply leaving food on a low table.
He came out of it fine in the end, back to his usual exuberant self in a few days. Not every dog is that lucky, but a little mindfulness can fully prevent stories like Benji’s.
Most dogs will happily gobble up the same food we eat, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for them. And sometimes, it’s not even food! Shoes, plastic toys, houseplants, and even cutlery have been consumed by our canine companions. According to Veterinary Pet Insurance, in 2007 their policyholders filed more than $3.2 million in claims resulting from pets eating foreign objects.
The easiest way to prevent your pup from ingesting something he shouldn’t is to view your home, yard, and even the sidewalk or dog park through his eyes. Dog-proof like you would toddler-proof: keep cleaning fluids and medications in high cabinets, make sure toys can’t be swallowed or chewed into pieces small enough to swallow. Keep houseplants on tall tables, out of your dog’s reach. Make sure all of the trash cans and recycling bins in the house have locking lids.
Ready to dog-proof your home? Here is a list of foods and plants that are toxic to dogs, along with common objects that dogs have been known to swallow.
Dog-proof your home: Look for these hazardous foods, objects, and plants
Please note: The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.