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Safety

Safety hazards vary with life stage and lifestyle, as well as with impairments of mobility, hearing, or sight. Guide the client in identifying and evaluating the potential for hazards, including:
  • Home and environmental toxins, toxic plants, and medications
  • Electrical cords
  • Potential foreign bodies
  • Human consumables toxic to pets (e.g., xylitol, raisins)
  • Temperature extremes
  • Vehicle transport (e.g., restraint, temperature)
  • Bodies of water (e.g., pools, ponds)
  • Physical hazards (e.g., sharp objects, thorns)
  • Wildlife or other animals (infectious disease transmission, attacks/fighting)

Discuss appropriate confinement and control (e.g., leash, collar, chest or head harnesses, crates) in the home, yard, car, and during travel to prevent the aforementioned dangers. Free-roaming dogs are at much greater risk for disease and injury. Appropriate confinement can save lives. Probing questions during history-taking may indicate whether the pet is at risk because of inappropriate confinement, dog fighting, or hoarding conditions. Follow through with appropriate authorities if any pet welfare violations or issues are identified.73

Safety also includes planning for care in the event of client or pet illness, accident, or natural or human-caused disasters. Discuss with the client healthcare financial planning, disaster preparedness, and estate planning. Encourage appropriate registration and identification, including discussing the value of microchipping, external identification tags, and licensing.74,75 Readable, current identification increases the chance of recovering lost dogs.76,77

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