Pets are like children–they’re curious about everything! And just as a new parent would child-proof their home for a toddler’s safety, pet parents should be concerned with the safety of their four-footed children.
Consider this–most parents spend nine months preparing for the arrival of a new baby, taking classes on child safety and child proofing the home. But how many “pet parents” prepare the same way for the arrival of a new cat or dog?
An Ounce of Prevention
Whether you are thinking about getting a pet, or already have one, take the time to implement some safety precautions both in- and outdoors. A bit of forethought may save your pet from trouble, and can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in emergency veterinary costs.
With kids as well as pets, most injuries occur where you and your family feel safest–at home. While you can’t prevent any and every danger, you can minimize the possibility of your pet getting hurt or sick by always being aware of his in- and outdoor surroundings and regularly examining his body for injuries.
To truly pet proof your home, you should start by literally getting down on “all fours” and pawing your way through the house and yard, looking for possible pet hazards. If something looks interesting, a child will investigate–if it looks or smells vaguely interesting, a pet will investigate!By exploring your home from your pet’s perspective, you’ll be much more likely to spot dangerous conditions such as sharp branches or broken wire on fences.
Steps to Protect Your Pets
While kids remain inquisitive for many years, they eventually learn to avoid potential hazards like a hot stove or broken glass. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for our pets–they will remain childlike for all of their life! So be prepared to look for possible pet hazards on a regular basis.
Here are 10 simple pet proofing tips to get you started:
• Plants and pets don’t mix. Many common house plants are poisonous to pets when chewed or ingested, and almost all lilies are toxic for cats. Eliminate toxic house and garden plants or move them to a safe area. Because they’re usually very easy to knock over, place house plants up high to keep them from fallingon your pet (and creating a big mess!).
• Secure your toiletries. Keep medications, lotions and cosmetics off of accessible surfaces and well out of your pet’s reach. These items may contain ingredients, dyes or chemicals potentially harmful to pets if swallowed.
• Check your cabinets. Use cabinet locking devices, like those used to keep young children from opening doors, to keep your pets from getting into food or household and lawn chemicals. Evaluate all lower shelves to make sure there are no unsafe items within easy reach.
• Set boundaries. Keep doors closed or install toddler safety gates to keep animals out of rooms you don’t want them to sniff around in. But be sure to consider the type of gate you are installing with respect to its intended location.For example, you wouldn’t want to install a pressure mounted gate at the top of the stairs where a pet might lean on it and topple down the stairs.
• Hide trashcans. Unless you want garbage scattered all over your home, it’s a good idea to hide your trash receptacle in a cabinet or large drawer, or at least keep it tightly lidded. While most food is not hazardous, wrappers can be. Most pet owners know that chocolate and anti-freeze are harmful to pets, but many probably don’t know that grapes and raisins also can be deadly for dogs.
• Check your curtains. To avoid the risk of strangulation, make sure cords from blinds and curtains are well out of your pet’s reach.
• Beware of wires. Tuck away electrical wires and cords from lamps, DVD players, televisions, stereos and telephones so they’re out of the reach of chewers. Consider installing electric cord shorteners, outlet covers and window cord safety locks.
• Protect your knick-knacks. Remove any precious or valuable items from tail wagging level to prevent them from being accidentally toppled by an enthusiastic wagger.
• Clear the floor. Keep children’s toys and games and everyone’s shoes and clothing off the floor unless you want Fido to have a field day with them.
• Eliminate temptation. If you want to be extra-cautious, consider keeping your pets in a crate when you have to leave the house.
For more tips on safeguarding your pet at home, contact your veterinarian or visit www.aspca.org.