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How to Pet-Proof Every Room of Your Home

By: Sania Tran
November 23, 2018

Photo by Sophie Elvis on Unsplash

Whether you’ve just moved into the apartment of your dreams or you are looking to make a move, ensuring your home is safe for your pet is key to keeping both you and your furry friend happy and healthy. As a pet parent, it is your responsibility to pet-proof your new home, but it can feel overwhelming to know where to even start! Most issues can be prevented by a combination of training, smart planning, and organizing your living spaces. Below we’ve outlined how to pet-proof each area of your place to make your life less “ruff”!

Backyard

  • Put up a tall fence. If your pup makes Olympic pole vaulters look like a bunch of amateurs, then it might be time to consider adding a tall fence so that your escape artist can’t jump over it. If you want to play it safe, you can always keep your pup inside when you're unable to supervise.

  • Patch the holes. If you already have a fence, thoroughly inspect the perimeter of the yard and make sure there are no holes. If you think that those holes are small and there is no way your pet can get out, think twice! You'd be surprised if you saw what your cat or a tiny chihuahua could squeeze through.

  • Block access to your swimming pool. Pets should always be supervised around the pool, even if their swimming skills bring tears of joy to your eyes. If you let your pup roam around the backyard by itself, secure the pool with a nice tall fence to keep your dog safe, or install a durable pool cover so the water is inaccessible when no one is swimming.

  • Remove hazardous objects. Unless you want your pup’s fluffy paws stuck in a rat trap, make sure that the previous owner didn’t leave any behind. If you use garden nets for vining plants, opt for hard plastic and metal nets that your pet can’t swing on or get trapped in. If your pet loves digging up “hidden treasures”, thoroughly inspect your yard for gardening knives, scissors, glass, and other dangerous items. There might be some gardening tools left behind by previous tenants. Those are types of treasures that may result in vet bills.

  • Get rid of all poisonous plants. You would be surprised how many common household plants are toxic for cats and dogs. Here is a short list of plants that are poisonous for them:

    • Tulips and Hyacinth
    • Azalea
    • Autumn Crocus
    • Daffodil
    • Kalanchoe
    • Sago Palm
    • Oleander
    • Cyclamen
    • Amaryllis
    • Lilies

Note that this list is not complete and that it’s always good to double check whether that beautiful flower growing in your backyard can potentially cause harm to your pet. ASPCA has a comprehensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants for cats, dogs and horses.

  • Watch out for rat poison, garden pesticides and pool chemicals. Chlorine tablets and rat poison account for a large number of pet medical emergencies. Spend more time examining every corner of your backyard to make sure it’s chemical-free.

  • Use natural digging deterrents. If your pet is an avid digger, consider spraying vinegar or spreading some orange peel around the garden. Most pets won’t like the smell and will stay away from the area. If you want to go the extra mile, add a sprinkler system.  It will help prevent your pup from digging while keeping them cool in summer. Win, Win, Win!

Living Room

  • Keep your windows screened and doors closed. Most cats love people-watching while leisurely laying on a window sill. To prevent them from leaping for a bird or chasing after a squirrel, make sure that your windows have screens or grates.

  • Cover outlets and secure electric cords. Most pets are indifferent to outlets but when it comes to electric shock hazard, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Use electrical outlet caps to prevent your nosy furball from sticking its snout into outlets. Gaffer’s tape could be a great solution for hiding cords.

  • Set boundaries. If your little guy has tons of curiosity and loves exploring within the boundaries of your house, use baby gates or a playpen to create a dedicated fun playspace for your pet.

  • Opt for pet-friendly fabrics and materials. Some pets take joy in destroying paper towel rolls, scratching up the couch, and unstuffing your pillows. It can make your house messy very fast. Nothing is more appetizing for a teething puppy than wooden chair legs. Your kitty would also appreciate wooden furniture - so much surface to scratch! If your pet is a “scratcher” or “shredder” described above, tables and chairs with metal legs might be a better option. When choosing fabrics, the rule of thumb is the tighter the weave the more pet-friendly is the material. Go for dark textured fabrics to hide pet hair and dirt. The best fabrics for households with pets are leather, pleather, canvas, microfiber and denim. Avoid silk, velvet, linen, tweed and chenille.

  • Make chew toys and scratch posts easily accessible to your pets. Similar to us humans, some pets like to snack on things when they are bored. But instead of laying on the couch and munching on chips, they might prefer to chew on your new shoes...or walls. While chewed up shoes can be replaced, walls are much harder to deal with. Plus sinking teeth into wall material can result in potential suffocation or consumption of poisonous hazards. If your pet is a mindless chewer, you simply have to offer something more appetizing and fun than your furniture.

  • Declutter and put your knick-knacks away on the top shelf. One wag of their tail or one careless movement, and all of your trinkets can go flying around the room. If your puppy or kitty is not the most graceful animal and breaks everything around them, it doesn’t have to be a problem. Look at it in this perspective - it might be your chance to finally get rid of all the junk collecting dust in your apartment or at least put it on high shelves, especially if you have a small space.

Kitchen

  • Keep trash and recycling cans locked away. More often than not your trash is full of potentially harmful objects - bones, fruit pits, sanitizing wipes, you name it! But for your pet, your trash can is a treasure chest that they’d be happy to stick their noses into when you are not around. Plastic bags and food wraps are especially dangerous as they pose a suffocation and choking hazard.

  • Secure kitchen cabinets. We often think of our pets as our kids and rightfully so. They share similarities, such as bringing joy to our lives and being completely dependent on us. They are also as curious as children and can get pretty good at opening drawers and doors. Using locks and childproof latches can prevent curious paws from getting into your cleaning supplies.

  • Don’t leave food out. Not all human food can be consumed by animals. Basic staples such as onions, garlic, and chocolate can be toxic for your pet. Make it a habit to put your food and dirty dishes away, especially if you have a cat that can jump onto kitchen counters.

Bathroom

  • Close your washer/dryer doors after using. Think like your cat, be your cat. What can be cozier than a dryer? Exactly...

  • Lock away any medication, detergents and skin care. What’s a life changing nourishing cream for you could be a potentially poisonous substance for your pet. Keep your cleaning supplies stored in a locked cabinet or somewhere that your pet’s curious nose can’t reach.

  • Keep the toilet lid closed. Your pet might have a “special palette” and develop a taste for potty water, which not only contains bacteria but also possibly leftover cleaning supplies.

  • Get your cat a comfortable litter box. If your pets are potty challenged and think that your whole house is their bathroom, it’s very important to set them up for success when it comes to bathroom habits. Plus, that “accident” smell and those pet stains are not that easy to get rid off. For example, if your cat has arthritis, it might be difficult for them to get into their litter box. The kitty might be more comfortable using a box with lower walls. You might also be using a kitten-sized box for a fully grown cat or large cat-sized box for a little kitten.

  • Keep the potty area private. Most cats would prefer to have privacy while using their litter boxes. Try to keep it in the bathroom or some other low-traffic room.

  • Get pee pads or a dog patio potty. If your puppy is still very young or if they tend to be home alone for long periods of time, it might be a good idea to get a “back up” potty solution like pee pads or grass patio potty that you can put on the balcony or any other appropriate area.

While the above-mentioned tips are pretty universal, puppies require more pet-proofing than adult dogs. No matter your living situation, puppies require a special setup and a lot of attention.

  • Use a crate. It’s hard to overestimate the benefits of crate training. A crate will help your pup slowly learn boundaries and house rules, making its puppyhood a pleasant and fun experience for both of you. Plus, having a safe space will make your pet feel more comfortable.

  • Supervise them at all times. Yes, even when you are at work. Thankfully, it’s not as hard as it may seem - just get a pet camera! Pet cameras like Petcube have motion and noise sensors and will send you alerts when your pup barks or jumps around. They also allow you to talk to your pet and play with him. Some cameras even have a built-in treat dispenser. This brings puppy-proofing to a whole new level.

  • Be consistent with training. While you can avoid unwanted behaviors by using tips and tricks mentioned above, the best thing you can do for your little Fido is to start training him early on. It’s easier to teach right behaviors than to correct bad habits.

While it might feel like a lot of work, pet proofing your apartment early on will save you a lot of headache down the road. Plus, appropriately pet proofing your apartment also means less wear and tear overall to the place. This is key for getting back your security deposit when you do eventually move out, and keeps your pet safe and happy.

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