While puppies are no doubt adorable, they are also prone to getting into piles of trouble.

If you’re planning to adopt a furry friend, here are some potential dangers to look out for. (And, of course, many of these safety tips apply to adult pets as well!)

House Hazards

Electrical cords. Puppies love nothing better than to chew on things — and electrical chords are no exception. Chewing on cords can cause burns to the mouth, electrical shock or even death. Be sure to conceal or cover them whenever possible.

Houseplants. Some houseplants — such as Calla lilies, azalea, ivy and begonias — can be toxic to dogs. Be sure to do your research on what plants are toxic and replace them with nontoxic plants or place them out of reach. (The APSCA has information on plants that can be potentially poisonous to pets.)

Small objects and clothing. Swallowing a small toy or an object like an earring or a coin can cause a dog to choke or result in a dangerous intestinal blockage. Keep laundry baskets off the floor to prevent your dog from ingesting socks, nylons, etc.

Food. Certain food items such as chocolate, onions, chicken bones, plastic food wrap, coffee grounds and the string from a roast can be hazardous for your dog. Uncooked meat, fish, and poultry can contain disease-causing bacteria, such as E. coli. Be especially aware of kitchen risks during holiday feasts and celebrations. (See Pet-proof your celebration.)

Medications. Keep all medications out of reach from your puppy. Do not leave vitamins or other pills out on the kitchen counter or table. Remember: a determined puppy can chew quite easily through a plastic container.

Cleaning supplies . Similar as you would with an infant, keep cleaning supplies in high cupboards (or use childproof latches to secure lower cupboards). If you’re using liquid or spray cleaners, remove your puppy from the area because the vapors can be harmful to his lungs and eyes.

Bathroom. Trash cans can pose a number of potential risks including razors and dental floss. Be sure to put them up high where your dog cannot get into them. And avoid using automatic toilet bowl cleaners if you cannot keep your pup from drinking out of the toilet.



Many garden plants such as daffodils, marigolds and avocados can be toxic if your dog eats them. Other plants that can be harmful to pets include: buttercup, chokecherry, eggplant, foxglove, lily-of-the-valley, philodendron, tulip, rhubarb, English ivy and rhododendron. (For more information on plants that can make your pet sick, visit the ASPCA Guide to Pet-Safe Gardening.)

Make sure all poisonous substances such as gasoline, oil, paint, lawn fertilizers, insecticides and auto supplies are stored in secure containers, out of reach. Be especially careful with antifreeze and rat poison, both of which taste good to dogs and can be deadly if swallowed.

Other tips:

— Take precautions with the water features. Pools, ponds, and hot tubs should be covered or fenced off. (Drainpipes can also pose problems.)

— Protect your pup from fire hazards, such as barbecues and fire rings.

— Store garbage and compost in securely closed containers.

— Survey the property for any items that could be a hazard, such as broken glass, exposed nails, or other sharp objects. As unlikely as it seems, some dogs chew and swallow landscaping stone, which can cause intestinal blockage.

Finally, do not leave your puppy outside unsupervised. And to prevent any wandering, be sure you have secure fencing or an outdoor kennel.



Exercise (and lots of it). It’s important to give your pet lots of exercise to channel their energy. And the good news is that you’ll be getting exercise too. (See Puppy love: Dogs are good for you.)

Adequate supervision. If your puppy has to be left alone, put him in an enclosed area with a few safe toys. Pet or baby gates can be useful for cordoning off a room, or you may want to consider crate training: It’s a great way to keep your pup safe when you can’t watch his every move, particularly at night so he isn’t free to wander around the house.

Doggie ID. Invest in proper identification for your pup. In case your pet is lost, a collar and tags and/or microchip will greatly increase the chances of his return.