Kitchens can be a surprisingly dangerous place for dogs. Aside from all the toxic food, kitchens contain sharp knives, poisonous cleaning products, and many other hazards.
So, to help you keep your dog safe, we’ve put together a guide to dog-proofing your kitchen.
1. Understand Your Dog’s Behaviour
Before you start dog-proofing your home, it’s important to understand your dog’s behaviour and the risks they are most likely to encounter.
For example, big dogs are often quite happy to snatch food from the kitchen counter. Other dogs are fearless and will rummage through a bin or even open cupboards to find a morsel of food.
You also need to consider your dog’s size and age. Big dogs can often get to areas that aren’t accessible to smaller breeds, especially items on kitchen counters. Smaller dogs might find it easier to spot food or other items under cabinets though.
While you should take every possible step to dog-proof your home, it’s helpful to prioritise the biggest risks to your pet. If you’re getting a new puppy, you should also thoroughly audit your home (including the kitchen) for any potential dangers before bringing them home.
2. Install Pet Gates
In the dog training world, management is often easier than trying to change a behaviour. Many issues can be solved by taking some small steps to avoid the dog being in potentially dangerous situations.
A good example is installing a pet or baby gate on your kitchen door. You can use this to keep your pup out of the kitchen while you are preparing meals, so they don’t get in your way or end up under your feet while you’re carrying a steaming pot!
Gates are also useful for keeping your pet out of the kitchen when there is no-one around to supervise.
3. Get Pet-Proof Cabinet And Drawer Locks
If you have an inquisitive dog (which is most of them!) it’s wise to get pet-proof cabinet and drawer locks. Kitchen cabinets and drawers are often filled with knives and other sharp utensils that could hurt your dog, so locks will keep your dog safe from these items.
To figure out which of your cabinets and drawers will need locks, you need to look at your kitchen from your dog’s point of view. Which cabinets are in their eye-line? And which could they potentially reach on their back legs? If you’re not sure, it’s best to be safe and put locks on them all.
4. Make Sure Medications Are Securely Stored
Medications are amongst the most dangerous items for dogs in a kitchen. Even relatively innocuous medication, such as ibuprofen, can be very toxic to dogs if they eat it. Pills are also easy for a dog to quickly eat and may look like food to your pet.
It’s best to keep all medication in a locked cabinet that’s high above ground. This ensures dogs (and children) can’t access it.
If you suspect your dog has eaten medication, then you should take them to a vet immediately. The sooner they get treatment, the better the chance of a full recovery. It’s a good idea to take the packet with you so the vet knows exactly what’s been eaten.
5. Create A Safe Kitchen Pen For Your Dog
If you want your dog in the kitchen while you cook, but don’t want them to grab spilt food or get under your feet, then a kitchen pen could be a solution. These keep your dog confined to a safe space, but allows them to be nearby.
The pen should be comfortable and enjoyable for your dog to spend time in. Add a soft and comfortable bed, water bowl, and chew toys to keep them happy.
It’s also important that you don’t leave your dog in the pen for too long. It should only be used as a way to keep your pet safe in the kitchen for short periods.
Tip: Don’t just put your dog in the pen and hope for the best. Allow them to explore the pen in their own time, by leaving the door open and putting treats and toys inside. Only confine your dog to the pen when they are happy to go in and out voluntarily.
6. Get Lockable Trash Cans
Many dogs love digging through trash and will do so if they are given the opportunity.
Unfortunately, garbage cans tend to contain many items that could be safety hazards for your dog. These include:
• Sharp objects
• Batteries or electrical items
• Toxic foods
• Choking hazards (including packaging)
• Mouldy food (which can be very dangerous to dogs)
• Dangerous chemicals
Not to mention the mess caused by trash being spilled on the floor!
To avoid these issues, get a pet-safe trash can that prevents your dog getting access to whatever is inside. These are more expensive than regular trash cans, but are definitely worth the cost.
7. Know Which Human Foods Are Toxic to Dogs
Many human foods are not suitable for canine companions, so it’s best to keep all food out of your dog’s reach. There are some foods that are particularly dangerous for dogs, including:
• Macadamia nuts
• Grapes and raisins
• Corn on the cob
• Xylitol (artificial sweetener)
• Garlic and onions
• Sugary foods and drinks
• Yeast dough
These foods should be stored in your fridge, locked cabinets, or other spots that will be impossible for your dog to reach. If you’re not sure whether a food is safe, you should assume that it’s toxic until you find out for sure.
It’s not just the food itself that can be dangerous to a dog. Packaging can also be a choking hazard, which is another reason to keep food out of reach.
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8. Keep Cleaning Products In A Secure Place
Along with medications and toxic foods, cleaning supplies are another common danger for dogs in the kitchen.
To keep your pet safe, make sure all cleaning products are in a locked cabinet (a child proof latch is a good choice). Most people store their cleaning supplies in a cupboard under the sink, but this is easy for many dogs to access unless there is a lock.
It’s also important to consider which cleaning products are safe to use in a home with dogs. Dogs are always sniffing the floor, so they are more likely to come into contact with any chemicals you’ve used to clean it. Make sure all of your cleaning supplies are pet-safe.
Other Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe In the Kitchen
Here are a few more tips for keeping your dog safe in the kitchen:
• Don’t feed your dog leftovers while you’re cooking or eating. This causes the dog to always be alert to the possibility of food, which can be dangerous if you drop something that might be toxic.
• There’s nothing wrong with keeping your dog in a different room while you cook. It’s a good idea to do this when you’re using ingredients that might be toxic, as you never know when you might spill or flick food onto the floor.
• Don’t allow your dog to get under your feet when you’re cooking. They can become a dangerous trip hazard, especially if you’re carrying hot or sharp objects.
• Avoid feeding your pet human foods. Your dog should get all of their nutrition from a high-quality dog food. These foods have been designed to meet your pet’s nutritional needs, which isn’t the case for human foods.
• Block off small gaps in the kitchen, such as between cabinets or behind the washing machine. These gaps often collect bits of mouldy food that might be dangerous to your pet.
• Older dogs, or those with joint issues, may struggle with slippery surfaces. Consider adding a rug or mat to your kitchen to provide extra grip.
• Always keep your dishwasher closed unless you are loading or unloading it. You should also place any sharp utensils with the point down, just in-case your dog sticks their head into the dishwasher when it’s open.
There are many potential dangers for dogs lurking in the average kitchen. But by taking some steps to keep your dog safe, you can greatly reduce the risk of your dog being harmed.
To quickly summarise this article, here are the most important steps for dog-proofing your kitchen:
• Manage your dog’s time in the kitchen using a pet gate. Keep them out when you’re cooking, or confine them in a safe pen.
• Install locks or child-proof latches on cabinets and drawers.
• Keep medication, cleaning supplies, and foods in high cabinets or those with locks.
• Get a pet-proof trash can to stop your pet digging through the trash.
• Understand which human foods are particularly dangerous to dogs. Assume that all foods are dangerous to dogs until you can look it up.
Most importantly, you should never rely on your dog being sensible when it comes to safety. Assume that any potential risk, however small, will eventually be investigated by your dog – because it probably will!
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