Whether you currently live with a pet or you plan to adopt a new furry friend, pet-proofing your home is an essential part of responsible pet ownership, and the best way to keep your curious cat or dog safe. Our team at Westerville Veterinary Clinic team offers do’s and don’ts for pet-proofing your home. 

DO store household cleaners out of your pet’s reach

Many popular household cleaning products contain dangerous chemicals, including bleach, ammonia, chlorine, formaldehyde, phenol, and isopropyl alcohol, that can be toxic to pets. While storing these products securely is a good first step to prevent your pet from eating them, pets can also be exposed if they walk on or lick the floor where cleaning substances, such as disinfectants, have been used, so when you use these products, ensure you keep your pet out of the room until the floor dries.

DON’T leave out human foods toxic to  your pet

When you share your life with pets, no food event goes unnoticed. While many foods are pet-safe in moderation, a few can cause serious—sometimes life-threatening—illness. Knowing which foods can be dangerous is vital for your pet’s health and safety. Some common toxic foods include:

  • Chocolate — Chocolate ingestion stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) in pets, and results in gastrointestinal (GI) upset and possibly cardiovascular and neurologic signs. Dark chocolate contains more pet-toxic ingredients than milk chocolate.
  • Grapes and raisins — Grapes and raisins are appropriate for people, but not for pets. Grapes and raisins contain the toxin tartaric acid, and only a small amount can cause vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and kidney damage in pets.
  • Xylitol — Xylitol is a common sugar substitute that is beneficial to people, but can cause life-threatening issues in pets. Xylitol is found in a wide variety of products, including sugar-free gum, mints, and candy, as well as household products like toothpaste. 
  • Alcohol — Pets who sample alcohol from open glasses or lap up spilled drinks from the floor can suffer alcohol toxicity, with signs including depression, vomiting, and incoordination, similar to people. Intoxicated pets experience low blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature, and sometimes seizures and respiratory distress. 
  • Onions, garlic, and chives — While garlic, onions, and related foods are most harmful to cats, they are not safe for any pet, and can cause GI upset, and potentially destroy red blood cells, leading to anemia.

DO hang backpacks and purses out of your pet’s reach

Keep personal items, including purses and backpacks, out of your pet’s reach to avoid accidental ingestion of items such as gum, mints, and medications, which can all be toxic for pets.

DON’T purchase plants poisonous to pets 

Many common houseplants can be dangerous for your pet, so ensure that all your plants are pet-safe and kept on high shelves in your home, or in fenced garden areas, that your pet cannot reach. Before heading to the garden center or florist, check the ASPCA Toxic and Non Toxic Plant List to become familiar with pet-safe plants, because most pets cannot resist a good green leaf. Most plants cause GI problems, but some can lead to more severe, even life-threatening, issues.

DO cover electrical cords to prevent shocking your pet

Electrical cords can look like a fun chew item, but they are no fun if your pet gets shocked, or worse. You likely have many electrical cords around your home that must be covered, or safely placed, to protect your pet. Spiral cable wrap, cord concealers, or PVC pipe that hides cords can help keep your pet safe.

DO keep all medications safely stored from your pet 

Many human over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications are dangerous for dogs and cats. They include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) 
  • Acetaminophen
  • Antidepressants
  • ADHD medications
  • Blood pressure medications 

Store all medication in a secure cabinet out of your pet’s reach, and never give your pet any medication that your veterinarian has not prescribed. 

Pet-proofing your home reduces their risk of injury or illness but, unfortunately, accidents still happen. If you suspect your pet has ingested or been exposed to a dangerous substance, immediately contact the Westerville Veterinary Clinic team or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.