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The Safe Dog Handbook: A Complete Guide to Protecting Your Pooch, Indoors and Out
Quarry Books, 168 pp., 2009; $19.99

“So here it is,” Melanie Monteiro, author of The Safe Dog Handbook, says, “the first always-around-when-you need-it, complete safety book for dogs.” Or, more accurately, for dogs and their people. That effectively sums up this concise, well-organized, spiral-bound collection of advice, tips, suggestions, guidelines and references for pretty much anything that threatens the well-being of your dog.

Monteiro suggests taking “a dog’s eye view” of your home. Get down on the floor—see what your pup sees. See what trouble he can get into. See where his little head might get stuck or where his teeth might compromise that protective covering on power cords.

While keeping your pet safe is mostly common sense, some things aren’t common knowledge. At the risk of stating the obvious, you can’t know what you don’t know if you don’t know you don’t know it. What about all of those things no one ever told you were toxic to your dog? For example, plants. Appendix I contains about as complete a list of toxic specimens as you could ever need. Same for food. Yeast dough can literally rise in a dog’s stomach and cause blockages, and macadamia nuts can bring on vomiting, weakness and temporary paralysis of the hind legs. My dog and I love nuts, and I’m quite certain that if I look under the couch or in its cushions, I’ll find a macadamia. (Need to make sure I find it before she does.)

Oh, please learn from the experiences of others! Just because your dog has never shown an interest in something potentially dangerous doesn’t mean he never will. Dogs have the capacity to surprise us in many ways, and when it comes to their safety, those surprises can have serious consequences.

This is not the sort of book you sit and read from cover to cover—though it wouldn’t hurt to get some of its basics into your memory bank for recall when you need them. Carefully reading Chapter 5, “Emergency First Aid,” as well as Appendix I and II; posting your emergency vet’s number and the ASPCA’s poison control number (888.426.4435) near your phone; and keeping The Safe Dog Handbook handy may well save your dog’s life!


This review has been revised to correct an error that appeared in the print version.


Andrea Peterson's reviews and photos have appeared in both U.S. and international publications.

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