By: Megan Pasche

So you’ve done your research and you’ve made your decision: you’re going to get a pet. You’ve scoured shelters, local rescues and breeders, and you’ve finally met your match. And while it’s always very exciting to bring a new pet home, there are certain precautions you should take to ensure not only a safe living environment for your furry new family member, but also to make sure your furniture and other belongings stay in tact.

Cats and dogs are curious little creatures; they have the ability to get into some places you never even thought possible. One time one of my cats managed to climb up into the dropped basement ceiling, and come crashing down through a tile shortly after. Another time, one of my dogs ate one hundred dollars worth of twenty-dollar bills that I left on the dresser. The moral of the story is, don’t underestimate an animals ability to find trouble.

Kitchen

Due to their lack of hands, the way dogs and cats discover new things is usually by trying to eat it. Make sure garbage cans are either securely covered or tucked away in a cupboard. Animals routinely like to explore garbage, and this poses a danger due to the fact that many of the items in the garbage can become intestinal blockages or could be toxic. Depending on how crafty your pet is you might have to put childproof latches on some of the lower cupboards. Certain foods are toxic to animals, so these should always be kept in a high cupboard.

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Some toxic foods to pets
-Chocolate
-Coffee
-Alcohol
-Avocado
-Macadamia Nuts
-Grapes and Raisins
-Yeast Dough
-Onions
-Milk
-Fat trimming and bones
-Salt

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Living Room

Wires pose potential hazards for inquisitive cats and dogs, so in order to lower risk, tie all wires from the various electronic units together, tape them down to the floor or feed them through a wire cover.

The strings from curtains can be very tempting to animals, so make sure they are tied and kept out of reach. Secure window screens properly, so pets aren’t able to push them out.

Cats are usually the ones to pose the biggest threat to the lovely fabric of a couch, but this is because scratching is a natural behavior and couches are often just the right height for them to stretch out and scratch. In order to deter your cat from scratching your furniture, try to provide a scratching post that is not only tall enough for them to stretch out their entire body on, but that is secure and won’t wobble when they try and scratch it. Some cats prefer different surfaces to scratch, so you might need to try a couple before finding a favourite.

There are many varieties of household plants that can be toxic to pets (full lists can be found online), so if your home does contain any plants on the “toxic” list, it’s probably safest to just get rid of them completely. Otherwise, they can be put in a “pet free” room, or moved up high such as in a hanging basket.

Bathroom

Make sure all meds are kept in a top cupboard that is always shut, away from prying paws. Keep the toilet lid down, because a lot of dogs (and some cats) like to drink from the toilet. This can be dangerous as remnants of chemical cleaners are often left in the toilet bowl.

You’ll want to make sure your laundry basket has a secure lid, because dogs can sometimes find socks, underwear, buttons and drawstrings to be tasty snacks.

Garage

If your pet is ever going to be spending any time in your garage with you, you’ll want to make sure all insecticides, herbicides, mothballs, ant and rat poison are all stored up on high shelves. Antifreeze poises a special risk to pets because it has a sweet odor and taste so they are attracted to it. Watch out for puddles of it in the driveway or garage, because even one lick can be fatal.

Other tips

Dogs like to chew, especially if they are bored or have excess energy, so to save your possessions from being destroyed, make sure your dog has appropriate and safe chew toys (no wood, old socks or shoes).

Keep the clutter around your house to a minimum. Things like batteries, elastics, string and pennies can all be hazardous to your pets health if ingested.

Whether you are a new pet owner or an experienced one, it’s near impossible to predict and prevent all the ways an animal will manage to find mischief, so removing known hazards is an excellent start. It’s up to us as owners, to make sure we are providing the safest home possible for our pets.