There’s some truth to the saying “curiosity killed the cat.” After all, when left to their own devices at home, cats and dogs can wreak havoc on your possessions – and possibly endanger themselves by swallowing toxic items. Thus, before you bring a new four-legged home, it’s essential for you to remove any possible hazards, just as you would childproof your house for a crawling baby or toddler. Here’s how.
Pet-proof tip #1
Beware of poisons
Common household cleaners, antifreeze, chemicals, tobacco products and medications can be fatal to Fido. “Keep all potentially hazardous chemicals, cleaners and medications high up and preferably in locked cabinets to prevent your pet from nosing around,” says Dr Donna Spector, a Chicago-based veterinarian. If your pet ingests poison, immediately contact your local veterinarian or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Hotline at 888-426-4435.
Pet-proof tip #2
Don’t feed pets human food
Not only can people food ruin your pet’s waistline and encourage begging behavior, but it can also harm your pet’s health. In particular, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, onions and chocolate can be dangerous to cats and dogs, says Dr Michael Cavanaugh, executive director of the American Animal Hospital Association. It’s important to pay attention to what your pet consumes.
Pet-proof tip #3
Beware of toxic household plants
“Many common houseplants have toxins that can adversely affect pets,” says Dr Cavanaugh. Oleanders, lily of the valley, azaleas, yews, philodendron and peace lily are potentially poisonous for cats and dogs, while both Easter lilies and day lilies can cause serious kidney problems.
Pet-proof tip #4
Keep electrical cords out of reach
Electrical cords pose a serious threat to pets. “If chewed by your pet, [they] can pose a risk for burning or even electrocution,” says Dr Spector. If your pet persists in chewing the cords, try taping them to the wall, placing them behind furniture or using a special cord wrap.
Pet-proof tip #5
Give pets chew toys
It’s a good idea to provide pets with several chew toys, so that they will seek out these toys rather than forbidden items when they have the urge to chew. “Most chewing problems occur in the first 20 minutes after you leave your dog alone,” says Stacy Allredge, celebrity dog trainer and owner of Who’s Walking Who. “If your dog is kept busy and chewing on appropriate items in that time, you’re all set!” Allredge recommends toys designed to be filled with dry food, such as Twist ‘n Treat, Kong and Buster Cube. If your pet continues to chew things that are off-limits, try using an anti-chew spray such as Bitter Apple.
Pet-proof tip #6
Consider crate training
Some pets (especially puppies) will find a way to get into trouble no matter how many steps you take to safeguard your belongings. In such cases, it is wise to use a crate to keep your pet safe and healthy. “If you can’t immediately supervise your dog, put him in his dog crate until he has earned 100 percent of your trust,” says Dr Tara Estra, a New York-based veterinarian.
More on crate training
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