Knowing your pet has suffered an injury or illness in your home can be truly heartbreaking, especially if the condition was preventable. All too often, pets fall victim to toxic plants or foods, electrical cords, choking hazards, and caustic chemicals that are unthinkingly placed in paws’ reach. Fortunately, pet-proofing is not difficult and can practically eliminate any hazards in your home. Implementing the following pet-proofing measures, combined with training your four-legged friend, can keep them safe and out of trouble.
Step 1: Get down to your pet’s level and explore your home
Look at your home from your pet’s point of view. If necessary, crawl around to see what could be potentially hazardous. Your kids will love this game, and it will help keep your pet safe from toxins and injuries. Go from room to room, checking the floor and anything in paws’ reach. Do not forget areas that your cat can jump up on, or that your Great Dane can reach, because pets can stick their noses into many areas you think are off-limits.
Step 2: Understand what household items are toxic for pets
Knowing what is and isn’t hazardous for your furry pal is key for pet-proofing your home. Many household items are dangerous, including:
- Poisonous plants
- Cleaning chemicals
- Toxic foods
- Electrical cords
- Small items that can be choking hazards
- Unsecured trash cans
- Home improvement products
- Lawn and garden chemicals
If you’re unsure about an item’s potential dangers, play it safe, and keep it out of your pet’s reach. Place items in closed cabinets and closets, or high on shelves, to ensure they can’t be knocked over, licked, chewed, or ingested. Electrical cords can be tempting chew toys that can be difficult to completely hide, but you can stuff TV and gaming-console cords behind the entertainment center, and cover lamp and other cords to hide them from your pet.
Step 3: Block access to areas that can be dangerous for your pet
If you have a hazardous home area, such as a bathroom where your significant other leaves the toilet seat up or a playroom that the kids litter with tiny toys, block your pet’s access to that spot. Although ensuring a toddler leaves their Legos or Barbie shoes in the playroom is almost impossible, you must keep small choking hazards and gastrointestinal obstructions behind closed doors. Also in the bathroom, if you always have cleaning chemicals in your toilet, keep the door shut, or ensure the family knows they must close the lid. In the kitchen, place the trash can in the pantry or under the sink, or purchase a model with a pet-proof lid. Many pets can unexpectedly turn into counter-surfers if given enough incentive—a slab of marinating ribs left on the counter, for example—so keep pets out of the kitchen when food is left unattended.
Outside in your lawn and garden, block your pet’s access to freshly treated areas. Fertilizers and herbicides can be dangerous, so walk your pet only in untreated areas until it’s safe, or fence your garden or treated lawn areas.
Step 4: Train your pet to leave dropped items
We’ve all seen this scenario. As you are cooking in the kitchen or opening the medicine cabinet, your pet seems to instinctively know you’ll drop something. Whether you drop a bar of baking chocolate or your blood-pressure medication, your pet is ready to snatch up the forbidden goods, which often disappear before you can blink. If your pet is your constant shadow. and you don’t want to stop them following you around the house, teach them to “Leave it.” This command can save their life when faced with a toxic food, choking hazard, or medication, and also comes in handy if your dog is confronted by a skunk, racoon, or possum during a late-night bathroom break.
To teach your dog the “Leave it” cue, follow the steps outlined by the American Kennel Club. It will require patience and practice, but soon your pooch will be leaving a hunk of steak on the floor, or ignoring the possum who has set up shop under your shed.
Is your furry pal too curious for their own good and routinely sticks their nose into trouble? Whether your pet encounters a toxic substance, or a hazard in your home or during a neighborhood walk, our Bassler Veterinary Hospital team is ready to help. Give our hospital a call.