When I see a shelter pet meeting her new family for the first time, it is undoubtedly a happy moment. Finally, this animal who has been waiting for weeks or months at the shelter gets to experience the joys of life in a home. Perhaps she will learn to play with toys for the first time. Maybe she will form fulfilling friendships with the other resident pets. I know she will have happy times ahead of her.
When I see a shelter pet getting adopted, it is also a moment when I must have faith that the adopter will do everything in their power to keep that pet safe. Taking the time to pet-proof your home is a great way to get started on the right foot (and paw). Ideally, this would be done before adopting a new pet, but even if you’ve already come home with your new family member, it’s never too late to make sure she has a safe living space.
Below are some simple steps to pet-proof your home.
Be sure that all cords are safely out of reach and unplug them when not in use to prevent appliances from being pulled down and to prevent electrocution. Supplying pets with chew toys will satisfy their need to chew so they need not resort to chewing cords, furniture, or other unsafe items.
Keep toilet covers down and be sure pets cannot access pools unsupervised to prevent drowning or exposure to cleaning chemicals.
It can be helpful to use baby gates to contain your pet in one area of your house. Baby gates can also be set up to create an additional barrier between your pet and the door to prevent them from accidentally escaping the house.
When it is time to take your dog outdoors, be sure they are safely contained within a sturdy fence, or if you don’t have fencing, always keep your dog leashed outside. Even in fenced-in yards, dogs may still dig or climb out and should not be left outside unsupervised for long periods of time. The SPCA Albrecht Center recommends keeping cats as indoor pets and utilizing a catio or leash-walking if they crave time outdoors. By not allowing pets to roam outdoors, you prevent unwanted interactions with stray animals or wildlife which can result in infectious disease, injury, or even death. This also keeps pets safe from other outdoor dangers including motor vehicles and theft.
As you tackle spring cleaning, it’s a good time to securely store any choking hazards or dangerous objects. If your pet has figured out how to open drawers, cabinets, or trash cans, you may consider adding latches so they cannot be easily opened.
Take time to make sure any pet toxins are stored safely where pets cannot access them. Common pet toxins include human medications (over-the-counter and prescription), certain human foods, chocolate, pet medications, household items, rodenticides, and insecticides. According to the ASPCA, these categories represented the top causes of pet poisoning in 2018 based on hundreds of thousands of calls to the ASPCA Pet Poison Control Hotline. If you have a green thumb, read our article on common houseplants that are poisonous to pets and if possible, choose non-toxic options. While not on the top-ten list, there has also been a recent increase in pet poisoning from marijuana due to increase in medical and recreational use.
If you have taken all these steps and your pet still manages to get into unsafe situations while you’re not at home, crate training or blocking off certain rooms of your home are good ways to ensure they are safe while you’re not there to supervise.
In case of emergency, please contact your local emergency vet. For poisoning cases, you may also contact the ASPCA 24-hour poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.
Disclaimer: The Albrecht Center is not an emergency Veterinary Care Center.
Jessica Gladkowski is the Director of Community Relations at the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts in Japanese from The University of Vermont. Jessica is inspired to combine her passion for helping animals, teaching, and serving a diverse community through a career in animal welfare. Jessica lives in Aiken with her husband David and their rescue dogs Django and Ollie.