Keeping Your Saluki Safe

While it's important that all animals be kept safe, Salukis seem to have an aptitude for exploring ... and finding trouble in the bargain. They are fast and agile, can dart through an open door, squeeze through a four inch gap, or scale/leap a less than adequate fence in the blink of an eye. Horror stories abound about Salukis who have gone missing due to situations that could have, and should have, been easily prevented. Following are some safety tips that address issues that some owners might not think about otherwise, as well as other safety-first and health issues that all pet owners, especially Saluki owners, should always keep in mind. The following advice is not given in any priority order ... all of it is important ... though as you read you'll see that some situations can certainly be more dangerous than others! (The books Saluki Secrets and Only Angels, sold in the STOLA bookstore, have many more safety tips including a thorough list of common food items and plants that can be toxic to dogs.)

Crates: a Saluki's Best Friend

Many dog owners use crates for safety and training. Some use them correctly, some use them wrong. While a dog was not meant to be kept in a small confined space for long hours at a time, crates are very good tools for things like house-training and, especially, keeping a dog safe in less than safe circumstances. Many dog people will not travel with their animals, for example, unless the dog is secured in a safe crate. You'll find that we at STOLA recommend crates, used correctly, in various situations below.

Strangers In The House: Secure The Dog!

"Please help me! The phone company worker left my front door open and my dog escaped and I can't find her!"

A lost dog is every owner's worst nightmare. Salukis are so fast, that the above scenario, and adaptations thereof, are far too common in the breed. Salukis, once on the loose, go feral very quickly -- often once they're running for a day or two they don't even recognize their own owner's voice, and will run from people they have known all their lives. Just imagine how much worse it would be for a rescue who has only lived with his new person for a couple of weeks, and is not even sure that he is home yet! A lost animal, not knowing if they are alive, not knowing where they are, knowing that they are frightened, hungry, exposed to the weather, in danger from traffic, wild animals, and wilder humans.... You never want to find yourself in this terrifying position, do you?

Telling workmen and visitors "be careful not to let the dog out" has, as past experience has proven, been a useless endeavor. It is up to your Saluki's owner (that would be you) to make sure the dog is safe when strangers are in the house. His Crate Is His Friend. When you know that there will be unreliable people in the house, going in and out the doors, possibly leaving gates unlatched, make sure your dog is secure and safe. This is especially pertinent if you have workers potentially stopping in while you are not home. Put your canine friend in his crate, stuff a Kong for him for entertainment, and you can let the workmen do their stuff, or your child's friends run in and out of the house, without having to worry. No crate? Buy one. And until you have it, use a back room with a solid door, a lock, barricades, and lots of big, bright, vivid signs that say "DO NOT OPEN, DOG IN ROOM!", until the crate arrives.

That Annoying STOLA Fence Rule

Our potential adopters sometimes become frustrated with STOLA because we insist on secure fencing before we will release a Saluki to a new home, and we strongly recommend six-foot fencing and secure, locked gates for most of our Salukis. There is a good reason for that rule, as the photo on this page shows. We have had cases of Salukis who have gone over six foot fences, but the ease with which they traverse lower heights is frightening ... and the incidences way too common. A rescue dog is especially vulnerable, because it takes a long time for a dog to learn that he is "home" in a new situation. A dog usually needs a reason to jump ... wanting to get back to the foster human who has cared for him for the past month or more is a very good reason! So is the deer wandering through the yard, the car that looks like his past mom's car that just drove by, the neighbor's cat and children, the stray dog rooting through the trash can two houses down ... the list could go on for pages.

Gates should have locks, especially if the dog is going to be eventually allowed outside unattended. Should that telephone worker in the above instance arrive while the dog is in the back yard, it will be much nicer if he is unable to open that gate and leave it open. After all, it's not his dog, what does he care if it gets loose? In addition, gates should be installed so that there are no "squeezable" gaps between gate and post, etc. It's not uncommon to see a fully grown Saluki. ooze himself through a four inch gap.

In addition, for some of the above stated reasons, it is unwise to allow a Saluki outside unattended for the first several weeks of their life with you. Even a six foot fence isn't really that much of an obstacle for an athletic, and determined, Saluki.

Car Travel: Canine Projectiles

Most, if not all, states in the U.S. now have seatbelt laws for human travelers, and car-seat laws for small children. Your Saluki friend is just as vulnerable -- if he's used to riding while standing on the seat, possibly even more vulnerable -- to traumatic injury due to auto accidents and sudden braking. A Saluki standing loose on the back seat can be thrown forward so easily if the car is in a collision, with injury or death the terrible result. Once again, His Crate Is His Friend if your vehicle is big enough. If the car is too small for the crate, there are dog seatbelts on the market that work very well in protecting auto-traveling canines. I'm sure you wouldn't let your human children, if you are a parent, travel unsecured in a car. Your canine family member needs protection, too.

Food and Toxin Precautions

While most of us would not think about leaving poisons lying around where a dog could get into them, not everyone considers certain things as "poison", or realizes the impact substances can have on dogs. Some of the items that can make a dog very ill are things that we humans couldn't do without. Pay attention, and keep these things well out of reach of your dog. Just what is "out of reach" of a Saluki? The top of the fridge might be safe, but just in case, why not a closed and latched cabinet?

Chocolate: chocolate can be highly toxic to dogs and cats, and some animals are more sensitive to the substance than others. Only a small amount of chocolate can make many dogs very ill and even result in death. The holidays are times that vets see an increase in chocolate poisoning, as many families have the tradition of leaving a tray of candy out for guests to help themselves to. Always keep in mind that if a guest can help themselves, so can your Saluki!

Onions: We're all tempted to share our dinners with our canine friends, but please be sure that what you are sharing does not contain onions. Like chocolate, many dogs can be sensitive to small amounts, and even dogs that don't show outward symptoms right away will exhibit altered bloodwork and may develop problems later in life.

Some other human-enjoyed foods that can be toxic to dogs include: Coffee, tea and cola; raw, green-skinned, or sprouted potatoes; some nuts, especially walnuts; and grapes and raisins.

Medicines: over the counter (and other) medications common in human households can sometimes be very dangerous for dogs. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, etc) and Ibuprofen (Motrin, etc), should never be given to a dog or cat, and aspirin should be used only with veterinary supervision. Keep all medications out of the reach of your pets, and always consult your veterinarian before being tempted to use any of your own medicines for your animal.

Cleaners and Chemicals: treat your dog like you would a toddler, and keep all chemical substances locked up in "toddler-proof" cabinets. One chemical that causes many deaths every winter is antifreeze. It is not only highly toxic, but has a scent that actually attracts dogs and cats. Keep antifreeze locked up tight, never change or add it in an area that a pet might have access to, and keep your vehicle maintenance up to date to prevent leaks and spill-overs.

Plants: many common household and garden plants can be poisonous to animals. A few of the most common examples follow, but research a complete list before purchasing plants that might be within reach of your pet (such a list is available in Only Angels, if you have a copy of that book). Azalea, Bulb flowers such as Daffodils and Irises, Chrysanthemums, fruit pits, Holly, all varieties of Ivy, Lily of the Valley, Marigold, Morning glory, Philodendron, Pothos, Yew, true Lilies.

Xylitol: Xylitol is an artificial ingredient found in many gums, candies, toothpaste, and other products to make them taste sweet. It can be highly toxic to pets, even in small amounts. Please read your labels and keep all products containing this ingredient out of reach. Some pets are drawn to it due to the sweet taste.

Safety First


When used properly, dogs find their crates to be safe, cozy sanctuaries.

Neo was let out by careless workers on a cold February day. He was hit by a car and spent a full day and night in a ditch before his mom found him nearly dead and covered with a layer of snow. He suffered a broken hip -- here he is with the vet's emergency wrappings. But despite his trials, Neo was lucky. He survived and recovered. Many are not so fortunate

Secure fences. Just sayin'.


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