National Dog Day is almost here -- on August 26, consider doing something extra special for your four-legged friend. And if you don’t have a furry companion, you might make a donation to a humane pet shelter in your community. But one of the most important things you can do for a dog on any day is to make sure she’s safe from electrical accidents around the home.
Prepare for emergencies. Dogs can experience deadly reactions even hours after experiencing an accidental electrical shock. Electrical burns can also be extremely painful and quickly lead to infection. So in the event you should need emergency medical treatment for your dog, you should have a plan in place. Know the location of your nearest 24-hour emergency veterinarian and keep the phone number in a convenient location. Calling first can help you provide immediate care and prepare your dog for safe transport to the veterinarian.
Prevent cord chewing. Rubberized power cords feel a lot like chew toys, so one of the biggest electrical dangers for dogs is accidental shock from chewing through a live cord or cable. This is a particular concern with teething puppies. Make a point to know your dog’s habits, and if there are signs of cord-chewing, try coating your cords with bitter apple spray -- a chew-deterrent spray available at pet supply stores.
Prevent strangulation hazards. Those cords can also pose a danger if your dog is at risk of getting tangled in them, especially if they become wrapped around the neck. In entertainment centers or computer desks, where you’re likely to have several ground-level cords, try using zip ties to keep them bunched together or run them through lengths of PVC pipe to avoid any strangulation risk. You can also ask your electrician to help you hardwire certain appliances or find other professional solutions for concealing cords.
Use caution with new electronics or appliances. Your dog may be curious about anything new that comes into the home, or things that only come out once per year, like holiday lights. The novelty might inspire chewing or tugging from dogs that generally leave familiar objects alone.
Be careful with heat-producing appliances. Some space heaters can give a curious dog a nasty burn on the nose, so use caution whenever operating these near pets. There are other heat-producing electronics that can pose a risk in a home with dogs, such as hot light bulbs or even electric blankets. Arrange these items so that your dog can’t accidentally tip them over or contact them without supervision.
Train your dog. To make sure your dog obeys when you establish rules around electricity in the home, you need to have a foundation of training. Consider obedience school or sessions with a dog behaviorist who can teach you gentle strategies that use positive reinforcement to shape behavior.
Still not sure if your home electrical system is really safe for dogs, cats or even small children? Call your local Mister Sparky for an electrical inspection designed to identify areas for safety improvement and catch other electrical problems before they can get worse.