I'd like to contribute to this forum by making a one-page PDF on the subject of "Top Dog Safety Rules", probably 10-12 rules. I think it's needed because there doesn't seem to be such a really good list on the Web. I see either incomplete lists, or article libraries that are fairly complete but nobody would have the time to go through them all. I'd like to create something people could tape to a fridge and be reasonably well assured that they're looking after their dogs' safety.
Please let me know if you'd like to have something corrected or added to the PDF. Later on, we might do another PDF "Health and Happiness" to cover best practices on subjects like exercise and play and petting. So far we've got 10 rules. The HTML version is on my site at Top Ten Dog Safety Rules
(I didn't see any forum rules forbidding external links, if I'm wrong then let me know.) Text version is below, it has the same text but lacks pictures and boldface:
1. Feed and water it safely. Avoid chocolate and xylitol, both poisonous to dogs. Use clean bowls and change the water daily to avoid bacterial growth. If you feed it premium-quality food (wet or dry) rather than the cheaper brands sold in most stores, you could keep its body happier and extend its life by several years. Any other scraps you feed it should be no more than 10% of its total diet.
2. Keep a collar and ID tag on your pet. A collar allows it to be leashed or easily held back with your hand. Make sure the collar is loose, to let it breathe easily. An ID tag is wise in case it escapes home and/or gets lost.
3. Always keep it well-watered, and its coat and paws sufficiently cool. Don't ever leave a dog in a hot car because it can take just minutes for heat stroke to occur. Keep your dog's paws cool too. This will avoid burnt paws and overheating. Surfaces like asphalt or the metal in a truck bet can get very hot. When it's hot, take care that they have access to fresh drinking water and shade. They can get very thirsty because panting and drinking is how they cool themselves. In summer, dogs can get sunburn, especially dogs with thin or lightly-colored coats of fur, so it's best to have shade available for them. In winter, they can get frostbite so always consider the weather before taking your dog outside.
4. Dog-proof your home like you would baby-proof it, and then some. Dogs, and especially puppies, explore by mouthing and chewing. Many different kinds of household chemicals are harmful to them. Dogs can mistake hanging electrical cords for chew toys. They can easily get tied up in drapery pulls and perhaps even be strangled. Some plants can be poisonous to dogs, even the holly that is hung at Christmastime, so check your household's plants at https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/anima...ogs-plant-list
5. Keep close guard on where your dog can go and who it interacts with. Keep your dog from fighting other dogs and biting people. Especially in non-rural areas, don't let a dog roam around. If you don't have an escape-proof fence, keep your dog on a leash whenever you take it outside. Keep screens on all windows to prevent escapes. If you let a dog run around, there are too many ways for it to get hurt to list them all here. If you don't know where an animal is, there is no way to make sure it's safe.
6. Know where your dog can and can't swim. Most dogs can learn to swim, but they aren't natural swimmers. A swimming pool can be dangerous if your dog doesn't have an easy way to pull itself out. Don't assume it will have the common sense to never jump in.
7. In a car, keep your dog safe and secure. Another problem with dogs in truck beds is that dogs can fall out or be badly injured in an accident. Over 100,000 dogs are estimated to die this way each year. A leash is no answer because it can lead to a severe neck injury. For truck beds, a secured crate with access to air and water is the way to go. The distraction of a letting a dog ride in a car can lead to an accident, so use a car harness, a crate, or a barrier that keeps it in the back seat. If you like to let your dog poke its head out the window, protect its eyes with doggy goggles. If you get a pad that slides over the window, that will prevent it from jumping out and also protect its throat from sudden bumps.
8. Take your dog in for annual checkups. Vaccines are important, and your vet also will examine your dog for signs of oncoming health problems. Diseases are more easily prevented than cured.
9. Protect your dog from parasites. Some of the most common are fleas, ticks and heartworm. There are many more less common ones. It really depends on what area you live in, so be sure to ask your vet how to protect against them. There are some cheap flea repellents out there that don't work well and can irritate your dog's skin.
10. Watch for any changes in your dog's behavior. Temporary odd behaviors are to be expected from dogs, but anytime there's an unexplained negative change in behavior that lasts more than just minutes, something may have gone wrong with your dog's health. The course of caution is to take it to see the vet.