The day has finally arrived: Your new bundle of fur is coming home! After a long search, you found the right companion for you and your family — and now the preparation begins.
As a responsible pet PARENT, you will need to provide a safe environment for this little one. Preparing your home and yard for the new family member is similar to doing so for a curious toddler — you want to eliminate any and all dangers. Your puppy or kitten will want to investigate every electrical cord, every closet, and every plant in the house and yard. It’s up to you to make sure your new pet (and your stuff!) will be safe from temptations.
Before the new addition comes home, walk through your house from room to room, keeping an eye out for these possible hazards. Specifically for dogs: baby gates and dog crates are a great investment and help prevent many accidents by restricting the puppy’s access to certain areas. These tools also help in housetraining. Ask us for puppy training class information! Kittens generally do well confined to one room, with litter box and food. Puppies and kittens are social and thrive when they are a true member of the household. They need their own “special place” to sleep and have quiet time indoors (not the garage), and if you are diligent at the beginning, you will have a devoted companion!
In the Kitchen…
The kitchen contains all sorts of interesting drawers, cabinets, and cords, not to mention smells and tastes. If he/she can get into a cabinet or drawer, your puppy or kitten will explore everything inside. Childproof latches, which can be found at your local hardware store, prevent curious investigations, while keeping potentially dangerous foods and cleaning supplies out of reach.
Kitchen trash receptacles often contain food remains like bones and are particularly interesting. Spoiled or “old” foods are not safe for dogs either and cause serious illness.
Power cords look like fun chew toys to a teething puppy and kitten. These hazards need to be hidden, covered or removed.
In the Bathroom…
The bathroom can be a dangerous place too. Razors, medications, cotton swabs, and soap left within reach can be easily ingested — which can mean an emergency visit to our office.
Family members need to be conscientious about cleaning up after themselves in the bathroom. Put shampoos, soap, tissues, and accessories out of reach or inside a cabinet or high drawer.
Be sure to keep the toilet lid down at all times, or keep the bathroom door closed. A curious kitten or puppy could jump into the bowl and drown. In addition, use a trash can with a locking lid or stash it under the sink. Also install childproof latches on the drawers and cabinets, and be sure to tuck dangling cords away.
In the Bedroom…
Dogs are scent-oriented, so they gravitate toward anything that smells like you. Shoes, slippers, and clothing will quickly become toys if you don’t safeguard such items behind a closed closet door. Keep clothing picked up, store shoes out of reach, and put laundry in a tall, closed hamper. Store jewelry, hair ties, coins, and other small ingestible items in containers or drawers as these are especially enticing, and secure any exposed cords or wires. Many dogs like to den under the bed or wedge themselves behind furniture, so put up temporary blockades to prevent your puppy from hiding where he/she shouldn’t.
In the Living Areas…
Whether a living room or family room, these cozy gathering places often have pillows, shoes, magazines, iPods — all kinds of things that could tempt a curious and teething puppy.
Houseplants, either real or fake pose hazards. Many decorative plants are poisonous and the fake ones often contain toxic materials. And if it is floor planter, look out for it becoming an alternative litter box!
Stay vigilant about straightening up and putting away clutter, especially in those areas where you and your family spend the most time. Put loose items away, stow pillows and blankets in decorative bins, and keep cords and wires out of reach.
In the Garage and Yard…
When you look around your garage and yard, you’ll see many obvious and not-so-obvious dangers. Paint, cleaners, insecticides, rat and rodent poison, snail poison, fertilizers, antifreeze, and gasoline represent a handful of poisons and chemicals that you may have in your garage or outdoor shed. Antifreeze, for example, has a sweet taste that attracts animals, but it can be deadly if ingested, even in small amounts. Secure all bottles, boxes, and containers of these substances inside a locked cabinet, or store them on high shelves.
Common plants, such as daffodils, foxglove, bird-of-paradise, and lupine, are poisonous to your dog and cat and cause varied reactions, ranging from a rash to vomiting and diarrhea. You can find a list of the most commonly encountered toxic plants at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center website.
Better Safe than Sorry!
By taking some time to pet-proof your house, you’ll give your new pet a good start and reduce worry with his/her new family. As he/she gets older, passes through developmental phases, and learns basic obedience and manners, you won’t need to be so vigilant with your pick-up routine. Until then, however, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Be sure to contact us if your pet has been exposed to any household/yard chemical or plant. We will need to know the name and main ingredients of any suspected toxicity.