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Getting Your Home Ready for Your Pet

By: Lisa Klassen - Updated: 7 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Pet Proofing Pet Friendly Pet Care Dog

Getting your home ready for a new pet is very similar to preparing your place for a young child. Pets are curious, playful, inquisitive and have no sense of what can cause harm to them in your home. In order to make your family home a safe, pet friendly place you must wander around with the eyes of your pet and remove any hazards or dangers. And more importantly, kids need to understand how to keep the home a pet proofed environment as well.

General Trouble Spots for Pets

These are some common, non pet-specific hazards:
  • Chemicals and cleaning supplies
  • Heat sources
  • Cords and wires
  • Windows, balconies and other spots with the potential for falling
  • Medications
  • Toilet bowls with cleaning substances in them
  • Heavy objects that could easily be knocked over
  • Anything you wouldn’t want a small child to put in their mouth

Dog Proofing

A useful device for keeping dogs out of unsafe areas are baby gates, as are safety latches to stop them from nosing open cupboards containing dangerous items like cleaning products. Bins need to be tightly sealed or stored somewhere your dog can’t get into it. Rubbish is an irresistible delicacy to dogs and one of the biggest problem areas for causing canine illness. Be aware your dog’s jaws are quite strong and perfectly capable of cracking open aspirin bottles, antifreeze containers and other hazardous materials so keep these safely stored away. Also keep in mind that dogs can stand up on their back legs and access counters and tabletops so don’t store dangerous materials close to surface edges.

Cat Proofing

Eating plants is a common cat misdemeanor, so make sure your indoor plants aren’t of the poisonous variety. The lily family is particularly toxic to cats, as are poinsettias, azaleas, morning glory and rhododendrons. Watch out for dangling cords attached to heavy objects, a tempting target to playful kittens. Christmas lights and electrical wires are also problem causers. And NEVER leave chicken bones out on your kitchen counter; cats will go to great lengths to acquire these tasty treats that are a serious choking hazard.

Small Pet Proofing

Chewing and escaping are the two main problems that face small pet owners. Check the areas that your small pet will be let loose into for accessible wires and cover them with something that’s impenetrable to their strong teeth. PVC pipe, spiral cable wrap, hosepipe and aquarium hosing are good, affordable ways to accomplish this. Wooden furniture legs are another tempting target, along with curtains and loose pieces of carpet, so safeguard these spots as well. You’ll also need to get down on your hands and knees to check for any small spaces your pet could escape through, and then block these off. These include gaps in the floorboards, air ducts, vents and spaces under closets and doors.

Bird Proofing

Windows, skylights and other glass in the house need to be covered whenever your bird is outside the cage; taking harm from unwittingly smashing into glass is a common bird ailment. Fans are another problem causer and should always be off or removed from a bird room. Birds are also exceptionally sensitive to fumes and chemicals so be careful when you clean and remove air fresheners from a bird room. Kitchens are a bird danger zone and you’ll want to stop using non-stick cookware like Teflon, birds are especially susceptible to the fumes released from these, along with fumes from self cleaning ovens. Birds can drown in a shallow amount of water, so keep all deep water sources covered or off limits.

Reptile Proofing

Many reptiles, amphibians in particular, have the same sensitivity to fumes, smoke and chemicals that birds do. Reptiles also have a habit of climbing into washing baskets and under layers of clothes, so it’s a good idea to check these very carefully when doing washing and try to keep them inaccessible to your pets. Reptiles like to crawl inside furniture, reclining chairs in particular, where they can easily be crushed. Any machinery with moving parts should be kept out of a reptile access room as well.

Now that your family has walked around the house looking for hazards to your pet, now might be a good time to safety proof any precious objects or beautiful breakables against your pet’s curiosity, too!

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