Everyone who gets a dog almost immediately learns that there is a certain amount of vigilance that goes with pet ownership. Puppies and kittens especially can get into everything and escape through even the tiniest opening.
Some 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 these potential problems. 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. Pet-proofing is a lot 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 worse, making an emergency trip to the vet.
Food is obviously the most common kitchen-related problem. The best known problem food is probably chocolate, but other possibly toxic foods include grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, and coffee. Also watch out for 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!
Some hazards are obvious: cleansers, detergents, fabric softeners, bleach, medications, vitamins and even dental floss can all be dangerous or fatal if eaten or swallowed.
Dogs in particular may be tempted to chew on, and potentially swallow, towels and stray socks 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 also 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, so be sure to keep the doors on appliances closed.
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 and pose an electrocution threat. Tucking cords away or covering them will keep them out of your pet’s way and also will leave your room looking neater.
Open doors and windows are great for letting in fresh air, but not great if they tempt your animal out into a world of cars and other dangers. Be sure that if pets can get out, they’ll be heading into a safe place, such as a fenced yard. Otherwise, screens are a great compromise. You can even find ones that are almost invisible.
Aside from the danger of a puppy chewing on your good shoes, bedrooms are generally fairly benign when it comes to pet danger. But to be on the safe side, keep jewelry, hair clips, pins and bands away from exploring pets.
One potential serious hazard, though, is mothballs. They’re toxic, so if you use them, be sure they’re in a place your pet absolutely can’t reach.
Everyday objects such as batteries, buttons, coins, paper clips and rubber bands can all cause problems if chewed or swallowed. If you’re into crafts, be sure sharp objects, including needles, are out of reach. Plastic bags and plastic wrap can cause suffocation.
These are storage areas for lots of things, including things that can be a problem if your pets get into them. The simple solution is to keep things like pesticides, gasoline, solvents, antifreeze, coolants and oils either high up or in a closed cabinet. The same is true for small things, like screws, nuts, bolts and nails.
If you live in a snowy climate, be aware that de-icing compounds may also contain dangerous chemicals, so look for ones that are safe for pets.
Just as food in the kitchen can be a problem for pets, so can plants in the garden. There are any number of plants that can cause problems; for some of the most common ones, see the Houzz guide, 22 Plants to Keep Away From Pets.
Compost, cocoa-based mulches, pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers and other garden chemicals can all cause problems for pets. Your first line of defense is keeping things stored away safely and out of reach.
Balconies may seem safe, but it’s easy for small pets to slip through the railings or get stuck halfway. Also be sure that any latticework is in good repair as well, so pets won’t get stuck or crawl into spaces where they shouldn’t go.
If you’re barbecuing, make sure to keep an eye on both the fire and your pets, and also that you keep the lighter fluid out of reach!
Chemicals are a source of trouble if your pets drink from pools and spas. Even if pets can swim, they can still drown in pools and spas if they can’t get out. Long, low steps may help, but your best approach is to keep pets away from the water, either with covers or fencing or by keeping them inside unless accompanied.
By Marianne Lipanovich, Houzz