As a smart pet owner, you're always on the lookout for things that can endanger your furry family members. Before heading out the door for a walk, you grab your dog's leash. When taking your cat for visits to the veterinarian, you use a pet carrier. You can also take simple steps at home to make things safer for your dog or cat. Conscientious owners can start by puppy-proofing (or kitten-proofing) their homes and keeping their yards safe and secure.
Pet-Proof Your Home
Having a pet is a lot like having a young child. Just as you need to childproof certain areas for a toddler, you must "puppy-proof" your home too, protecting your dog or cat from the things he could chew or swallow inside your home.1
1. Watch Out for Small Household Objects
Small objects present choking hazards to pets, so put away tiny items like sewing materials, jewelry, craft supplies, and game pieces. Some dogs and cats love to chew electrical cords. Keep cords out of your pet's reach by investing in chew-proof sheaths or multi-cord enclosures.
You might even want to put away items that aren't particularly dangerous, but would be unpleasant if your puppy or kitten got into it, like favorite books, socks, shoes, or children's toys.
Inspect the undersides of furniture for exposed nails, staples, or splinters. Attach guards to sharp corners if needed.
Use trash receptacles with secure covers, and don't leave trash bags sitting out where pets can get into them.
2. Secure Kitchen and Bathroom Cabinets
Both cats and dogs can be surprisingly adept at opening cabinet doors and drawers. Once your pet gains access to these areas, he could consume anything he finds inside them, including toxic cleaning products and medications. So try childproof locking mechanisms if there's anything dangerous inside.
You also want to read up on the foods that are toxic to dogs and foods that are toxic to cats. Certain plants and even essential oils may be toxic to dogs and cats too. Make sure you don't leave these out where your pets can get to them.
Keep Your Dogs and Cats Safe Outdoors
The yard has its own sets of dangers when it comes to your beloved dog or cat. While you're following these next outdoor safety steps, don't forget to watch the weather. If it's getting too cold or too hot, bring your pet inside.
1. How to Keep Your Dog in Your Yard
If you have a fenced yard, be sure the structure is secure.2 A single breach could allow your dog to escape the safety of your property. Regular maintenance checks can help prevent this from happening. It is also important to keep an eye on your pet when he spends time outdoors—certain dog breeds are notorious for climbing over or digging under fences. You might need to remove anything that helps your dog climb over the fence, add shrubbery to prevent jumping or climbing, or attach footers to prevent digging under the fence. And of course, try to take your dog for a fun walk every day. Dogs with less pent-up energy are less likely to try to make a run for it. If you have a puppy, consider setting up a smaller, enclosed area in the yard to keep her safe.
Beyond making your yard escape-free, you also want to make sure all the plants are safe. Ask your veterinarian for a list of the most toxic plant species. Also, beware of lawn care chemicals, fertilizers, and even certain types of mulch. Cocoa mulch, for example, contains theobromine—the compound that makes chocolate toxic to cats and dogs.
2. How to Keep Your Cat Safe Outdoors
If you want to give your kitty a little sunshine, do it safely. Consider taking your cat outside on a cat harness for a supervised visit. First, test the harness indoors to make sure your cat can get used to it.
You might even want to set up a cat tent or a catio.3 Look for a cat tent that can be staked to the ground and has a strong mesh netting designed to prevent your cat from escaping. In contrast, catios are more permanent structures that often have cat trees and perches inside them. They are usually made of wood and screens.
Before you take your cat outside, make sure all the plants are safe for your kitty to get into. You might want to grow some catnip in a pot as a special treat.
Protect Your Pet from Fleas and Ticks
While you're making everything safe, both indoors and outdoors, don't forget to protect your pet from fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. These can pose significant risks to your pet's health. Although these pests usually catch a ride on a pet outdoors, they make themselves right at home indoors remarkably quickly.
First, make sure your pet is protected with a product like Adams Plus Flea & Tick Foaming Shampoo & Wash for Cats & Kittens, which kills fleas, ticks, and lice and breaks the flea life cycle. There's also one specifically for dogs and puppies. Or try Adams Plus Flea & Tick Prevention Spot On for Dogs or Cats, which also repels mosquitoes.
Next, treat your home. Fleas can infest your carpets, furniture, and pet bedding even before you notice your pet scratching from their bites. Try Adams Plus Flea & Tick Indoor Fogger or Adams Plus Flea & Tick Carpet Spray. These can protect from fleas for up to seven months.
Ticks often wait in tall grasses before attaching themselves to dogs and cats, and mosquitoes can lurk at dawn or dusk. Regular mowing, removing standing water, and using pest control products can help. Adams Yard & Garden Spray kills fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and ants, and it protects from fleas for up to four weeks.
All these steps might seem like a lot, but dogs and cats can get into pretty much everything. It's better to take the time now to make your home safer than to regret not doing so later. And don't forget, one of the best safety steps you can do is to microchip your pet in case he ever escapes.
1. Meyers, Harriet. "Puppy-Proofing Tips for Your Home and Yard." AKC, 9 August 2019, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/puppy-information/puppy-proofing-tips-for-your-home-and-yard/.
2. Reisen, Jan. "How to Prevent Your Dog from Escaping the Yard." AKC, 17 September 2019, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/how-to-keep-a-dog-from-escaping-the-yard/.
3. Hess, Catherine. "The Cat's Meow." The Humane Society of the United States, 1 July 2015, https://www.humanesociety.org/news/catios-great-outdoors.