Before you bring a new animal into your home it’s important take some steps to ensure that your home environment doesn’t pose any safety hazards for your pet. “Pet-proofing” your home is very similar to preparing it for a new baby/toddler. In fact, you can use some of the same safety gadgets like cupboard latches, baby gates and plug covers. Cats and dogs do come with some added safety challenges though.
Kittens and puppies are usually very small, incredibly curious and can make their way into very small spaces. Lay on the floor in your rooms and look up and under cabinets and furniture for hazards that may not be apparent from standing height. For example holes under cabinets or furniture, loose wires or worn electrical cords, loose panelling or open vents, etc.
Although toddlers can be pretty mobile, cats have claws to climb and can jump much higher than you might think. Some dog breeds can also jump quite high. You should therefore look for hazards not only from floor height, but, in the case of cats, at all heights. Cats love to get up high so if you have breakable items in bookcases or on shelves you should move these items until cat curiosity has been exhausted.
Furniture that moves, like recliners and sectional sofas, can be very dangerous for curious pets. Try to block any access points under or into furniture.
Ensure that any plants you have, either inside or outside your home, are not toxic to animals. Refer to our Poisonous Foods and Plants page for information on common toxic plants and additional resources.
Young cats and dogs don’t understand that noise travels so use it to your advantage. If you have a plant that you don’t want a cat climbing, hang some bells on it in an inconspicuous place - this technique works great on Christmas trees too! You can also put crinkle paper on counter tops and on other surfaces that you want to train your pets to stay off of, just ensure that the paper is secured so the animals don’t slip and fall.
Check out the following articles for additional tips on how to make your home pet safe:
Pet-Proofing Your Home Cat Proof Your Home Puppy Proofing Basics Outdoor Safety for Dogs
While you have hopefully taken all of the standard steps recommended in the articles above to secure your home, it’s important to remember that each animal is unique in its tastes and habits. Therefore once you bring your pet home, watch it carefully to see if it has any bad habits, like chewing stuffed animals, hiding in plastic bags or climbing blinds, and take any extra steps needed to make your home safe.
Be cautious moving about your home, especially with kittens and puppies who are fast, small and can easily get underfoot and stepped on or quickly run through a door. When closing doors, appliances, cabinets and reclined furniture be careful to ensure a furry little body isn’t at a pinch point or hiding inside – young animals can be very traumatized if accidentally enclosed in small spaces that they can’t escape.
Be ever mindful of putting away things you use on a regular basis that could be very harmful to your pet if ingested like toothpaste (make sure to wash it out of the sink too), dental floss, lotions, perfumes/colognes, vitamins, medicines and dryer sheets. Cats and dogs are both attracted to strong smelling items.