More like, not being aware of the hazards and taking the necessary steps to protect your pet. In this video we discuss common dangers in and out of the home. Please comment below and share your experience if you have had to learn these lessons the hard way.
Thanks to Kayla @whistlerdognanny, for the helpful training and trail safety tips at the end!

1.4 Bad Babysitting

Well not really bad babysitting but more like not being aware of the hazards and dangers and taking the necessary steps to protect your pet. Pets are a lot like small children: they need their parents to keep them safe. Nobody would ever leave their small child alone all day but in our society, it’s common practice to leave pets unattended.

Examples of problems that happen while pets are unattended or not closely supervised:

Accessing dangerous items in the home

Everything from toxins, like drugs, over-the-counter medications, poisonous foods and plants to foreign bodies. Anything they can ingest that can get caught in the intestine. Common ones are tampons, corn cobs, toys, bedding stuffing, squeakers, rocks, plastic bags, snack bags, potato chip bags (always cut them into small pieces before discarding them and never leave anything like that out on the table. This is an example of something that people don’t realize can even happen to a pet until it actually happens to them and I admit I never knew that this could happen until I saw my first case and since then I’ve seen so many cases and just want to warn everybody about this).

Anything that they can strangle themselves on

My own puppy when I was a kid strangled himself in a hammock while we were at school. It’s common for dogs that are playing to get caught up in their own collars. Another common scenario where pets are strangled is when they’re tied up and they jump over a fence or a piece of furniture like a picnic table and they’ll get caught and accidentally hang themselves.


Make sure that any toys that are left out are big enough that they can’t get caught in the back of their throat. Just like you would for a toddler.

Mechanical dangers

Just to list a few and some of these can be serious even fatal: folding windows, anything that is sharp, reclining chairs (especially with kittens and puppies they can get crushed very easily in there), anything with hinges (especially the fridge), washing machines and dryers (cats love to hide in washing machines and dryers and a couple times a year we’ll have cats coming in having gone through the cycle and they can be very badly burned, they can drown and get neurologic damage), as well hot stoves, pots of boiling water (it’s not uncommon for pets to try to jump up to grab the bacon that’s sizzling and have everything come down on them burning them really badly).

Hot bathtubs and swimming pools

Especially swimming pools with the cover on- they can drown in there if you’re not watching.

High-rise syndrome

Pets can jump out of the windows and fall off the balconies and fall off things like parking garages, bridges and cliffs when out in public if not leashed or properly supervised– this happens all the time!!

Garbage can

There are so many dangerous lurking in there.

Being left unattended with their own food

Being left in a hot car and dying of heat stroke or being left too cold

Getting hit by a car

Can happen right in your own neighbourhood or even on the front lawn just using the washroom. A lot of these are older dogs that are very intelligent and have been doing this their whole life without ever having a problem.

Unwitnessed trauma

It happens all the time – nearly bleed to death while at home and nobody really saw it happen.

Problems resulting from encounters with other animals

Dog fights, wildlife trauma, getting lost or hit by a car while pursuing wildlife or being chased by other animals.

Medical problems that go unnoticed.

If they arise who’s there to notice?

Doing things that the babysitter can prevent.

Like drinking saltwater in the ocean – that can be fatal.

These are all dangers that you should be aware of and here are some strategies that you can implement at home and while out in public to make sure that your pet is as safe as possible.

Some strategies that you can implement while at home:

  • Identify and remove any potential poisons or toxins. You can use a plant search app to identify any plants in your home and you can run them through the ASPCA Animal Poison Control database to make sure that those are safe for your pets.
  • Always cut up any plastic bags into little pieces.
  • Secure the garbage cans.
  • Install fridge locks if necessary.
  • Put up signs for guests, like “don’t let the cat out.”
  • Carefully assess your home in the backyard for any potential mechanical dangers.
  • Check all of the fences gates and windows.
  • A nanny cam is a great tool.

Some strategies that you can implement while out in public:

  • Leashing
  • You really want them to have proper recall. Use a long line if they’re not ready.
  • Supervise play with other animals.
  • Muzzles so not all dogs that wear muzzles are biters. A lot of dogs wear cage muzzles just to prevent them from picking up toxins, drugs and foreign bodies.
  • You’re out on walks, actively remove your pet from a dangerous situation especially if you have a small dog and a big dog off leash comes towards you. There are so many instances where pets come in here with fatal injuries from big dogs.

Screen your babysitter very carefully

Taking care of other people’s pets is a huge responsibility. The pet care industry is not very well regulated so really anybody can care for another person’s pet without having any training, licensing or even common sense.

A lot of emergency patients are brought in by the individuals caring for those pets, like family members, friends, dog walkers, pet sitters, and neighbours. Many of these could not have been prevented but many of these are accidents that could have been avoided such as being off leash, getting hit by a car, and accessing a poison.

Sometimes the caretaker will give a human medication that is toxic or overdose the patient on its own medication. I have seen multiple dogs die from being left in a hot car by friends and relatives.

These are some questions you might want to ask:
  • What kind of training and certifications do they have?
  • What training methods will they use? You want force-free fear-free positive reinforcement training. Shock collars and negative reinforcement punishment based training has all fallen out of favour in the last few decades.
  • Are they familiar with the common dangers in and outside of the home?
  • Has the environment that your pet will be been pet-proofed?
  • Will your pet be off leash?
  • Will pets be left unattended?
  • How many other animals will be present?
  • Is it safe for them to all be together?
Related videos:

Here are the 3 best pieces of advice from the emergency vet that could save your pet’s life:


If you wait too long, it could be too late. This is especially true for concerns such as laboured breathing, pale gums and weakness. You know your pet best, so if you are worried or concerned, “when in doubt, check it out!”


Learn as much as possible about dangers that face your pet, such as household poisons, seemingly harmless objects (such as toys, clothing, garbage and rocks), other animals, and vehicles. Pets are like toddlers and they need a responsible adult/babysitter to protect them from danger. Puppies and kittens need to start their vaccines at 8 WEEKS (and they need boosters too!) to protect them from deadly diseases.


Have a plan in place, know your nearest emergency clinic, have the ASPCA phone number on speed dial. Know basic first aid training and CPR. But MOST IMPORTANTLY, BE FINANCIALLY PREPARED. The cost of medical treatment in an emergency, and the owners’ ability to pay for it, is probably the most important factor that determines whether a pet will receive the medical care it needs. The best way to protect yourself is to have good medical insurance for your pet. Do your research.

**REMEMBER**: WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME TEAM, with the best interest of the patient as everyone’s first priority. Let your vet do what he/she does best, and don’t try to grab the steering wheel and obstruct your vet from doing his/her job. We are all in the same car, we are all headed to the same place, but only one of us has the driver’s license (meaning, only the vet has the medical training and background to “drive the car”).

Please remember to spay/ neuter your pet, and to donate to your local animal shelter- they really need your help!


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