Everyone who gets a dog or cat soon learns that a certain amount of vigilance goes with pet ownership. Puppies and kittens especially can get into everything and escape through the tiniest opening. Some of the better-known dangers are toxic plants and food. But do you know about the other dangers that might lurk in your home and garden? From the bathroom and laundry room to the office, kitchen, garage and even the great outdoors, there are some expected and unexpected hazards your pet might face.
There is good news. First, a lot of these potential dangers are things your pet will probably ignore. More good news: You can easily take care of most of these potential problems. Some of the rules are simply common sense: Keep small objects and items that can be easily eaten or swallowed out of their way. As for other dangers, just look around from your pet’s point of view and see what might be tempting and troublesome. Consider pet-proofing your home to be much like baby-proofing; you’re simply making sure that pets and possible problems don’t mix.
Also remember, while dogs may seem to be more trouble-prone than cats, cats can get into far more — and higher — spaces in your home.
There’s even a bonus to these precautions: a tidier house. Storing things safely away after using them also turns out to be much easier than coaxing them away from a pet determined to destroy them, or even worse, making an emergency trip to the vet. And it will leave you with much more room for you and your pet to play with the things that are safe.
Kitchens. Food is, of course, the most common kitchen-related problem. The best-known problem food is probably chocolate, but other possibly toxic foods include avocados, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic and coffee. Other things to watch out for are sharp knives and little things like twist ties that can easily be swallowed.
You may want to install a door or gate to keep animals out of the kitchen while you’re cooking. If it looks as nice as this, it’s a bonus.
Bathrooms and laundry rooms. Some hazards are obvious: cleansers, detergents, fabric softeners, bleach, medications, vitamins and even dental floss can all be dangerous if eaten or swallowed.
Dogs in particular may be tempted to chew on, and potentially swallow, towels and stray socks (and you were blaming the dryer for eating them), which can lead to severe gastrointestinal problems.
There are some other dangers in the bathroom and laundry area that you might overlook. In addition to the “yuck” factor, drinking out of the toilet isn’t good for pets, especially if you use chemical cleansers. Sinks and tubs filled with water and left unattended can pose a drowning hazard for small pets.
Washers and dryers can be a tempting spot for a nap, especially for cats, and you may not notice them if you put in a load of clothes. Keep the doors on appliances closed.
Gathering areas. There generally aren’t too many dangers lurking in these rooms, but there are a few possible trouble spots. The fireplace is a big one; pets can be harmed by flames and flying ashes. A simple screen is probably all you need.
Another overlooked danger is fire-starter sticks. They’re somewhat sweet, and some dogs can’t resist eating them.
Wires and cords can also be a problem; chewing on a plugged-in cord can electrocute a pet. Tucking cords away or covering them will keep them out of your pet’s way and also will leave your room looking neater.
As a general precaution, put anything you value or anything that’s a chewing or choking hazard (puzzle pieces, small toys and so on) out of reach when you’re not around.