Pets love to explore, they find ways into everything and are master escape artists. Our homes may seem pet-friendly but the reality is there are many potential dangers found within homes. Remember that pets are very inquisitive and love to investigate everything, they don’t know what’s good and what’s not yet. Preparing your home before introducing a new pet will help keep them safe and ensure they do not encounter anything potentially dangerous or harmful. These tips will help you make sure the inside and outside of your home is pet-proof.
When you think about pet-proofing the home, these are the 5 factors that should be considered as you make changes:
Animals love to chew items to find out what they are and whether or not they are edible. This can be very dangerous if your pet chews on electrical cables or toxic substances. As you walk around your room think about what they may try to chew and move these items out of the way or protect them with a covering.
Making use of safe storage spaces is very beneficial as having items loose and unorganized around the house leads your new pet to temptation. If small or potentially dangerous items (choking hazards, chemicals, toxic materials etc.) are properly stored this will make the home safer and give you peace of mind.
3. Safe Spaces
Making a pet-friendly zone is one of the best ways to keep a close eye on your pet, especially when they are new to the family. Having a couple of rooms or a sectioned off part of the yard that is fully pet-proof can make it easier to monitor and control the situation to avoid accidents.
4. Doors & Locks
Don’t underestimate the importance of using doors and locks. Keeping the bathroom door closed or using a baby gate to stop pets from entering the kitchen are great examples. Having child locks on storage cabinets, particularly those that contain cleaning products, is also a good idea as pets can be curious and clever so getting into cupboards is not a hard task for them.
5. Toxic Substances
When you are pet-proofing your home and garden, one of the most important considerations that are sometimes overlooked is researching what items are potentially dangerous for pets. There are many edible and non-edible toxic substances that may be present around your home from food to chemicals to plants and flowers. These resources can help you know which foods and plants are toxic for pets and which do not present as a danger:
Room by Room Guide
With the above key concerns in mind, let’s look at how we can adapt each room to make it safer for pets. You will see some similarities between pet-proofing and baby proofing a home as the hazards are alike.
Bathrooms are often full of dangerous chemicals and medications as well as sharp items such as razors. With so many potential hazards it is important to keep the bathroom organized and safe for pets and children. You can do this by:
- Closing the toilet lid when not in use (the toilet water can cause drowning as well as poisoning if there are toilet cleaners inside the toilet bowl and your pet drinks it)
- Place medications into a secure, closed cabinet (ideally the cabinet should be high up and locked)
- Keep the bathroom door closed (sometimes the best way to ensure your pet doesn’t go rummaging through the bathroom is to stop it from getting in the bathroom in the first place by keeping the door closed)
Similarly, laundry rooms are also dangerous thanks to the cleaning products that are present. The machines are also a potential hazard as smaller pets may be tempted to climb inside them as they offer a quiet, warm place to hide or rest. Keep your pets safe in laundry rooms by:
- Always checking inside the machines before starting them (make sure your pet hasn’t snuck inside for a nap when you weren’t looking)
- Store detergent and chemicals inside of a secure cabinet (keep toxic items properly stored and make sure any spillages are immediately cleaned)
- Close the washing machine and dryer doors when not in use
- Keep clothing and towels out of reach of pets (pets love to chew so keeping items out of their reach will prevent them chewing and potentially swallowing or choking on pieces of material)
A living room can present dangers in the form of cords, heavy, unstable furniture, choking hazards and toxic items such as plants or batteries. You can make the living room a safer environment if you:
- Keep cords out of reach and protect them from being chewed (if the cords are low down and you can’t move them out of reach, cover them over and protect them so your pet cannot chew or damage them)
- Keep toys stored safely when they are not in use (children’s toys often have small parts that can be a choking hazard and are dangerous if chewed)
- Do not have plants that are poisonous to pets in the home (some plants are toxic to pets so make sure the plants you have are safe. If you have plants that may be poisonous move them to higher surfaces or to pet-free rooms so your pet is never near them)
- Never leave lit candles or fireplaces unattended
- Use a fire screen in front of lit fires (this will keep your pet a safe distance away and will stop hot ash or sparks flying out of the fire)
- Keep your pet entertained with their own, pet-safe toys
- Keep things like batteries, paper clips, rubber bands and coins safely stored in a box or drawer.
There are many reasons a kitchen is a dangerous place for a pet to be. It tends to be better to keep pets and children out of the kitchen using a safety gate, particularly when you are cooking. Food, small spaces, electrical appliances and trash are all potential hazards. If your pet is allowed to walk around the kitchen, there are ways you can make it a safer environment:
- Keep all food out of reach (even if the food is not toxic the wrappers can be very dangerous so it is best to keep all food stored away so your pet won’t be tempted to help themselves)
- Secure trash cans with fastened lids and keeping them closed
- Keep cleaning products locked in a secure cabinet
- Block any access potential paths behind appliances
- Don’t leave food or wrappers on the countertops
- Keep utensils away in a drawer
- Keep the oven, fridge, dishwasher and microwave doors closed
- Use childproof latches on cabinets
The bedroom doesn’t immediately present as a hazardous room compared to the rest of the house but there are important considerations to keep in mind. Electrical cords, small items and small spaces are some of the potential issues in these rooms.
- Keep windows closed or use window screens to prevent your pet from climbing out of open windows
- Store jewelry and small items such as hairpins in a box
- Keep cords out of reach or covered
- Make sure pets aren’t hiding in closets or drawers when closing them
Garages are used for storing lots of different items from vehicles to gasoline, pesticides and oils and small items such as bolts and nails. They are highly dangerous and even a short amount of time spent in a garage can become fatal if your pet comes across a toxic substance.
- Keep small items such as screws and nuts in a closed container
- Use high cabinets to store chemicals
- Keep the garage floor clean and clear from spills
- Unplug tools when not in use and store them safely
- Always check for animals when going out of the garage and check the car engine and wheels for cats before starting the car (you can do this by banging on the car bonnet)
- Keep antifreeze away from pets
Time spent outdoors is a firm favorite for pets but we need to make sure the yard is a safe place for them. There are certain natural items such as plants and flowers that can be dangerous to pets as well as items we may add to our yards such as fertilizers, compost and cocoa mulch which are toxic to pets. Here are some ways you can pet proof your yard:
- Fence the yard so your pet can’t escape (and other animals can’t come in)
- Remove poisonous plants
- Don’t leave pets alone when using a fire pit
- Put a fence around (or covers over) pools and ponds
- Make sure your pets receive routine flea and tick treatment
- Keep tools and chemicals stored in a garage or shed
- Protect gardens/ vegetable patches with chicken wire fencing
- Section off a play area to keep your pets in a safe part of the garden
- Don’t use toxic fertilizers
- Provide a shelter for your pet if they will be spending a lot of time outside
- Don’t use weed killer, slug pellets or rat poison around the yard
- Keep gates closed
- Ensure any balconies are safe and gaps between railings are not big enough for pets to fit through