How To Pet Proof Your Home

By Dr. Katie Falk, Veterinarian

The age-old question – how do I pet proof my house? Constantly keeping your fur baby out of trouble is exhausting. Keeping these tips in mind can hopefully help slightly decrease our pet parenting anxiety.

The most common presenting complaint we see dogs brought in for is for eating something they shouldn’t. The two main categories are food and foreign bodies, such as balls, bones, toys, string, socks, food wrappers, etc. Foreign bodies have the potential to cause an intestinal blockage, requiring emergency surgery. Any food has the potential to cause some serious gastroenteritis and pancreatitis, potentially requiring lengthy hospitalization. A few particular foods have the additional risk of being toxic. These include grapes, raisins, chocolate, garlic, onions, macadamia nuts, peach pits, and artificial sugar (often found in gum). I know how impossible it can feel to prevent this issue, but the more cognizant we can be, the more often we can prevent those ER visits.

We see lots of sick animals from getting into their parents medications. Our fur babies can become symptomatic from even just one pill of certain human medications, so please be sure to keep all meds well out of reach. Additionally, ensure no pills are dropped, and you may even want to keep the dogs and cats out of the room while you are taking your medications.

Getting into the trash is a classic canine misbehavior. It is also a classic predisposition to pancreatitis, mold toxicity, gastroenteritis, amongst many other illnesses, so keeping our dogs out of the trash should be taken seriously. Simply having a tall trash can with a lid on it may be enough.  You can step up your game with a lid-locked or weighted trash can. However, living with two lab-mixes, I have found keeping the trash behind closed doors to be the only safe fix. 

This next one is not nearly as easy to fix as a trip to Amazon. Cats have been known to find their way into tiny spaces that they cannot get out of, including the crawl spaces of their house. If it is possible, try to block off any entries to potential cat traps.

One more household item to keep out of reach from our furry friends is potentially toxic plants! There are many plants that are toxic to dogs and cats and identifying them is difficult, even for us veterinarians. The big ones are lilies, sago palm, azaleas, daffodils, and oleander. When in doubt, call your veterinarian and/or Animal Poison Control (888-426-4435).

Some last easier things to keep in mind are keeping the toilet lid closed, keeping wires out of reach, putting away small toys and game pieces, no rat bait, keeping all chemicals, especially antifreeze, out of reach. If you are a cat owner, get into the habit of checking the washer and dryer for cats and kittens before running.

I hope this bit of advice helps, but if you have any additional questions, feel free to ask your vet during your next appointment!

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