There are tons of great things about sharing your home with a 4-legged friend. But whether you’re a sucker for your cat’s sandpaper kisses or never go anywhere without your canine pal, pet-proofing your place is a must. Thankfully, pet-friendly homes aren’t hard to achieve or maintain, especially with these 7 handy tips.
1. Keep things out of reach
If you’ve got nimble cats or bull-in-a-china-shop dogs, it’s a good idea to put latches on your cabinets — in the kitchen, bathroom, and anywhere household cleaners, medications, or potentially poisonous food items (like chocolate and grapes) might be stored. Latches will prevent your pets from getting their paws on things that could be bad for their health. Earthquake putty can also be used to prevent your cats and dogs from knocking things over.
2. Explore your space
Small dogs or cats have a way of finding your home’s hidden nooks and crannies, along with the assorted dangers — sharp objects, forgotten candy wrappers — that might be lurking there.
Protecting your pets from harm means a lot of things — even periodically getting down on all fours and checking under the fridge for rogue grains of ancient rice (a choking hazard). You are your pet’s best defense against harm, so if your Siamese kitty can force her way into a tight space where she could potentially get stuck or hurt, you need to find it and make it inaccessible. While you’re there, clean out the dust, dander, and other detritus that can pose health problems for animals and people alike.
3. Don’t share your dirty laundry
I mean your actual laundry, not your secrets. It’s important to keep soiled clothing away from prying paws — believe it or not, those crumpled piles can pose a serious choking risk to smaller cats and dogs. You wouldn’t want your dog swallowing a sock left lying around, either. It can be harmful and costly, particularly if your pup needs veterinary help, you know, passing it along.
Laundry baskets can also be a tempting place for pets to pee, so store hampers behind closet doors and place laundry baskets on hard-to-reach shelves or in large cabinets.
4. Hide-and-seek (mostly seek)
It may seem obvious, but kittens and cats love to hide around the house. And while those cat-in-drawer moments make for great photo ops, they can also be dangerous. Closed drawers, like other confined spaces throughout the house, can lead to trouble if your kitty gets trapped.
When you’re rummaging through the drawers in your dresser or closet, remember to look for your feline friend (likely taking a nap on your favorite sweater) so you don’t accidently strand them in the dark. Likewise, there’s nothing worse than unknowingly locking your pet in a dryer. (Don’t ask.)
5. Keep a lid on it
I wouldn’t necessarily leave the seat up so the dog can drink from the toilet, but to each their own. There are problems with this scenario, however. Aside from the inherent cringe factor (your beloved boxer puppy lapping up dirty toilet water or toxic cleaners), it’s also possible for smaller pets to fall in or even drown.
To ensure your pets stay unsoiled and dry, it’s simple: just keep your toilet seat covered. Trust me, your dog won’t mind living the high life by drinking from their very own water bowl.
6. Teach bathroom behavior
If your dog or cat’s favorite place to pee is on the carpet, in your expensive shoes, or on your new sofa, it’s a good idea to say a sharp “No!” when you catch them in the act, rather than shame them after the fact. Your well-meaning pet doesn’t associate the mess with the act like humans do. To them, peeing and the location of the pee are unrelated. Punishing them will only cause confusion.
It’s smart (and kind) to take the time to train your pets to go outside, on a handy wee-wee pad, or in an indoor litter box. Imagine if no one had taken the time to teach you when and where to relieve yourself — that’s how your pets function too.
7. Check for spills
Spills on your driveway or garage floor may be no big deal to you, but they could be lethal to your pets. Automotive antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which causes quick, permanent kidney damage to animals if they ingest even a little bit (less than a quarter of an ounce can kill an average-sized cat, about 2 ounces for a 30-pound dog).
It doesn’t take much — just your Akita pup or Persian kitten trotting through the garage, inadvertently sopping up the spill with a paw, and licking themselves to get clean. I’d suggest checking for spills regularly and cleaning your surfaces as if your life depended on it too.
What works for you?
Whether you rent or own, there are lots of things you can do to safeguard your stuff and your pets. And it’s wise to protect yourself as well with a good homeowners or renters policy — it’ll help cover you in case Fido or Fluffy takes a nip at the neighbor.