Making your home safe for animals can take a little more research than you might think.
Do you currently own a house pet? Are you considering getting a new one?
Or do you think you’d like to occasionally take in pets as favours to friends or family members?
Pets bring a friendly home quality to any house, but they also present hazards to them and human occupants.
If you are considering a new house pet, there are issues you’ll have to consider before you make this serious commitment.
Your home would have to be made safe for these animals, as well as from them as there have been instances of pets wreaking havoc on homes.
These tips will help pet-proof your home from pets, and vice versa.
• Make sure your home’s harmful substances or objects are safely stored where pets cannot access them. Sharp knives or tools, automotive liquids (such as radiator coolant), cleaning products (bleaches, detergents, disinfectants, paint thinner, drain cleaners, pool chemicals), and certain food items (chocolate or coffee) can be dangerous or even deadly for dogs and cats.
According to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), people foods like grapes, raisins, avocado and certain citrus fruit can seriously harm pets. Chocolate, when ingested in significant amounts, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even tremors and seizures in severe cases.
The SPCA also warns homeowners against leaving rodent traps out when dogs, cats or other pets are around your home. The SPCA warns pets who accidentally ingested rat or mouse poisons can suffer severe reactions. Depending on the type of poison used, problems can include bleeding, seizures and kidney damage.
Child safety locks on cupboards in the kitchen or the garage can help keep the curious pets out of the harmful products.
• Some common household plants can be poisonous to pets. For example azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe and schefflera can be harmful to pets; and lilies are especially toxic to cats, causing life-threatening kidney failure even in small amounts. Doing some online research about what plants you’ll have to remove before bringing a pet into your home can save tragic results or a high veterinarian bill.
• Ensure human or animal medications are securely put out of reach of animals. The SPCA says prescription and over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers, cold medicine, antidepressants and dietary supplements can be fatal to animals, and that pets often eat pills accidentally dropped on the floor. So it’s essential to keep bottles safely stored in inaccessible cabinets and cupboards.
• Keep trash bins securely covered, and inside latched cabinets wherever possible. Animals are often drawn to garbage bins by smells, turning the bins into a potential health hazard for the pets. It also avoids a substantial mess for the home’s occupants.
• It’s important to keep the toilet lid down, especially if you use a chemical toilet cleaner. Smaller animals can also fall into a toilet and drown. Toilet lid locks can be useful to prevent these kids of tragedies. They can also remind humans to lower the lid.
• Keep electrical chords safe from pets, and pets safe from potential electrocution. Plenty of pet products exist to help pet owners avoid this — from bad-tasting sprays, to wraps or cable clips.
• Breakable knick-knacks should be moved to higher shelves or into cabinets to prevent them from being accidentally knocked over and causing potential hazards for pets. Temporary pet hosts can simply store these breakable items away for the duration of the animal’s stay.
• Using baby gates, pet crates, or other means to confine pets to a specific area of your home will limit the pet’s ability to get into trouble in other home areas.
• Finally, you’ll want to vacuum frequently when you have a pet in your home. This removes odds and ends that could harm pets, as well as help remove pet hair, fur and dander that may prove an irritant to human home occupants.
But remember that pets are a wonderful way to feel loved, and to enjoy your home.
– By Kevin Gillies, a freelance writer for Black Press.