When it comes to “Pet Proofing” your home many of the same principles that apply to “Baby Proofing” or more specifically, “Toddler Proofing” your home come into play. Like babies and toddlers, pets tend to explore their surroundings with their mouths – with the added risk that pets are often left unsupervised for longer periods of time than children.  Also, cats in particular can jump and climb quite high so it is important to be particularly vigilant in keeping potential hazards out of their reach.

How do you know if your home is pet proof? Try looking at it from a ‘pet’s eye view’ by actually getting down on your hands and knees on the floor and having a good look around then look at all high surfaces a cat or particularly agile dog might access.  Potential hazards to pets include (but not limited to) all medications, cleaning products, pesticides, automobile car products, garbage, electrical cords, small items that could be ingested and cause an intestinal blockage and household plants.  Remember, a ‘child proof’ cap is not ‘pet proof’ as your pet may chew the container open so all medications (both prescription and over the counter) should be stored securely out of your pets reach, ideally in a cabinet behind a closed door.  Garbage containers should have securely locking lids.  Household plants should be checked for potential toxicity and kept well out of reach of pets. (for a list of safe vs. toxic house plants go to http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants)

Some quick tips for Pet Proofing your home and avoiding accidental poisoning:

  • Tape electrical cords under rugs, out of reach of your pet
  • Ensure all medication is kept out of reach of pets, preferably in a cabinet with a door that closes
  • Ensure that all house hold cleaning supplies, automotive supplies, chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides are kept in secure containers well out of reach of pets
  • Ensure all household and yard plants are non-toxic if ingested or chewed. Same for fresh cut flowers.
  • Ensure all garbage is stored in containers having secure lids that pets cannot open.
  • Never give a pet any medication (human products or products prescribed for another pet) without consulting your veterinarian first.
  • Read the label of any over the counter products very carefully – if in doubt about the safety or suitability for your pet, consult your veterinarian prior to giving to your pet.
  • Keep floors clear of socks, underwear and small objects/toys a pet could potentially chew and accidently swallow or choke on.

Reference: Animal poison control. ASPCA; http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control; accessed Jun 2014. via www.veterinaryteambrief.com