Are you bringing home a new pet?
Or, have you been asked to take care of someone else’s pet?
Either way, it’s a big responsibility.
Pets – like humans – are curious by nature. They find trouble in some unexpected places…and anxious pets? They can do some serious damage to their environment, you and your stuff, and even to themselves.
Whether or not you can communicate with your cat or dog to reduce their anxiety, there are some simple steps you can take to pet-proof your home.
They’ll give you peace of mind, and keep your furry family member – or visitor – safe and sound.
6 simple ways to pet-proof your home
Naturally, you want a well-trained dog or cat who understands boundaries in your home – and that requires effort on your part.
Obedience training doesn’t just help your furry companion learn the ropes, it provides valuable bonding time for both of you.
And, if your pet is well-trained and behaves well normally, then suddenly starts to act out? You’ll know it’s a sign that something’s wrong, either with you or your pet – please get help as quickly as you can.
But even the best-behaved fur baby can go seriously astray when you leave them alone and they get bored…so do them a favor and take away the hazards that can do serious harm in your absence.
1. Know your plants.
It’s common for pets to chew on grass, leaves, and plants. They can induce vomiting, help expel a furball, or just smell like the food their wild ancestors used to consume.
But if you’ve ever mistaken the look or scent of one thing for another, you know that accidents can happen. Many common garden and house plants are toxic for your pets, so be sure to do your research and eliminate these perils from your home.
And if you suspect your little explorer has ingested something dangerous, follow the advice of a veterinarian.
2. Install child locks and gates.
These aren’t just for your headstrong toddler.
Dogs and cats like to explore. While your new dog may examine their surroundings with all the stealth of a freight train, your cat will probably be quite mischievous about it.
Consider using child locks and gates to secure the areas that you simply can’t keep safe from hazards – an under-sink garbage can, for example, or the corridor leading to your garage that’s often a dropping-spot for things destined for a higher shelf.
Kids can unwittingly leave hazards on the floor in their room, or in a shared space. Leggo, felts, glue, bits of board games…
Take the time to educate them about an animal’s special needs. You never want to put a young school-aged child completely in charge of a pet’s care with no supervision, but it’s never too soon to teach them about compassion and awareness when it comes to your furry family members.
3. Supervise the string.
Believe it or not, stray thread, yarn, and string can do serious damage to your dog and cat’s digestive system.
So, after you’ve tired Felix out chasing that ball of yarn or dangling a piece around the room, make sure to put it away. If a cat swallows a piece of thread, tinsel, yarn, or string they can’t stop swallowing because their tongue is designed like a velcro strip… and it will tangle up and damage their esophagus, stomach, and intestines.
If you’d like to avoid expensive surgery to save your pets life, take the extra second necessary to put it away where they can’t get to it.
If you have young children you’ve probably already got the strings for your blinds and curtains well out of reach, but think like an animal that can jump when securing them for your cat.
4. Block off hiding places.
Cats, especially, love the feeling of a safe little cave. No more so than when they’re sleeping…which is 70% of the day.
If you don’t provide them with some easy-to-find hidey-hole they’ll find one for themselves while you’re not looking, and it might be someplace dangerous. Someplace where there’s electrical conduits, noxious chemicals, sharp objects…
Again, think like a four-legged creature when pet-proofing your home. Someplace that seems impractical or impossible for you or your kids to reach might be tempting for your curious cat or dog.
5. Make the toilet bowl off-limits.
Maybe this habit already rubs you the wrong way, but your pets really shouldn’t be drinking from the toilet bowl.
That ‘fresh mountain stream’ feeling Rex and Fluffy get from sticking their head in the toilet is a natural instinct, but the chemicals humans use to keep a toilet sanitary don’t agree with a pet’s digestive system and are incredibly toxic.
If you or your child shouldn’t drink out of a toilet, then they shouldn’t either.
Keep the bathroom door closed if you can, or remind your friends and family to put down the lid. And if you want to create a babbling brook experience for your pets consider getting a pet fountain.
6. Lockdown the knick-knacks!
If you’ve got young kids in the house odds are good that you’ve given up on displaying your collection of antique thimbles or porcelain figurines.
But if you’re still tempted to leave the quartz and marble rocks you gathered while spelunking or beach-combing, or the vintage photographs of your grandparents in antique frames…resist the temptation.
A pet-proof home is free of things that can be knocked down or smashed by the wrecking-ball of a tail your yellow lab can’t control. Or, the circus balancing act of your cat, while they circumnavigate the room on tiptoe around the shelves in your living room playing a game of “The Floor, is Lava” by themselves.
Cats are famous for loving to knock stuff off the furniture. They love watching what happens when it hits the ground.
It’s like a science experiment… will it shatter into a million pieces? Or will it bounce? Will things get exciting around here when mom yells or jumps or comes running?
Yea… you don’t want that. Put them away and be vigilant, and don’t blame your kitty for their instincts and natural inclinations.
Caring for a pet takes time and effort.
Teaching them how to navigate their new environment is part of your job – through time, training, and talking – and it’s a two-way street.
But pet-proofing a home is your responsibility just like baby proofing for new parents.
Your pets are relying on you to keep them safe and healthy. They will follow their basic instincts – curiosity, the need for privacy, and adventure – in a human-made environment.
And they need a good human caretaker to look out for them.
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