Archive for November, 2010

30Nov

With winter coming in and temperatures dropping over much of the continent and beyond, electric heaters and wood burning stoves are turned on and the heat is raised. However easy it is to make your home cozy, you have to be sure that you are practicing good safety measures, not just for yourself and your family, but also for your dog’s sake.

Baseboard electric heaters are long, running along your baseboards. They are dangerous appliances if used incorrectly and around pets. They can cause injury and even death if not handled properly. However, it is easy to mitigate much of the chance of injury in your pet, so exercise proper caution and follow these tips and you’ll be able to snuggle up this winter.

The Dangers of Both Electric Heaters and Wood Burning Stoves Pose for Dogs
Many of the dangers of electric heaters for dogs are the same as the dangers for children. Electric heaters can get very warm on the outside and cause burns if a puppy nose gets too close or an inquisitive paw touches it. Older electric heaters can have exposed wires, which some dogs consider great chew toys – until the dog is electrocuted, taking your electric heater with them! Finally, although very rarely, a dog can become trapped in an electric heater, leading to burning, injury and even death –although, thankfully, this is extremely rare of course.

In the case of wood burning stoves, also known as Vermont stoves, part of what allows them to heat the entire house is that they are constructed entirely from heat insulating metal. Surface temperatures can reach in upwards of 300° F. Adult dogs generally sense the heat with their whiskers and know to avoid it, but a puppy isn’t as clued in to the world around him yet. Something this large and odd looking is just the sort of thing Jeffrey would love to sniff, touch and challenge to a wrestling match. The results, you can imagine are disastrous!

Mitigating the Dangers
There are several ways of making sure that your dog is safe this winter, no matter how inquisitive or even um, sweet but lacking brain cells he or she might be about the whole thing! First of all, make sure that whatever heater you are using, it is clean. In the case of baseboard heaters, it is important to ensure that filters are changed, and everything is ready to be used before the first cold day, not after. This way, your electric heater will not only run safer, but also more efficiently, saving you money on your utility bills.

Next, make sure that all of your access panels are closed and that there are no wires hanging out. Wires can prove irresistible and then very damaging or even fatal to dogs (and cats too), so by locking them up, you get rid of the temptation and the problem. This also helps your electric heater as well; exposed wires are more easily damaged by the elements.

Wood burning stoves should be checked annually. Your manual will explain what to look for to ensure it is running properly. It is important to clean the waste tray of fallen ashes regularly. This is just the sort of play toy whose contents Jeffrey would love to spray all over the house.

In the case of both baseboard electric heaters and Vermont stoves there are very easy ways to end Jeffrey’s curiosity before it starts.

On a day when it is warm and you don’t have your heat source turned on, bring Jeffrey to it, whichever one it is, and as with anything else you don’t want him to touching, train him not to go near it. As he approaches it, say firmly, “No!” When he backs off, give him a treat. If he keeps moving toward it, another firm but in control, “No!” will be necessary. You may have to do this a few times. As with anything you are training him to do or not do, repetition is the key. Eventually he will get it.

Having either an electric heater or a Vermont stove is an important way to survive a cold winter and your dog will be glad for the heat as well, especially when he can curl up next to the vents! But you have to keep him safe from the possibility of harm or else you could find that your dog will be damaged or could even be killed through your own negligence. It only takes some simple steps this winter and you and your dog can enjoy being warm after a day of romping in the snow without any fear of harm.