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Improving You Home for Your Pet: Items You May Have Forgotten About


You’d do anything to keep your dog healthy, happy and protected. No matter how safe a haven you think you’ve created, though, there are likely some dangers still lurking. New pet owners don’t always realize the many ways to pet-proof a home. Even long-time, experienced pet parents may find out the hard way their home isn’t as safe as they thought.

Dangers can be minor, like potential for a slip or ingesting something that causes an upset stomach. Or they can be more serious, like electrocution, choking, or cuts. The wintertime brings with it a unique set of hazards for pets, too. For example, they can burn their paws or tail by getting too close to the fireplace.

Here are some of the items you may not realize you need to pet-proof.

Electrical Cords

Electrical cords look so much like toys to your pet that you can’t blame him for chewing on it. Hiding the cord is the easiest solution. If you can’t keep it out of reach, add a chew-safe cover or spray it with a bitter tasting anti-chew spray. If you use a spray, make sure there aren’t any exposed wires. Also, some pets aren’t deterred by the spray, but at only $5 or so it’s an inexpensive trial.


You love your charming, cozy fireplace, but you get nervous when your pet wanders too close to the flame. Here are a few ways to keep him safe:

  • Screens can add a barrier between the fire and your pet. Reinforced, 3-panel screens are the safest fireplace option if you have pets at home, because they’re difficult to knock over. This isn’t a perfect solution, though, since the screen itself will get hot.
  • Teach your pet that approaching the fireplace is bad behavior, the same as you would teach them to stay off the bed. Also, never have play time in the same room as the fireplace – that’s confusing to your pet.
  • Clear the space of anything that’s intriguing to your pet, like a dangling tassel on a pillow, shiny decor, or food. The closer he gets to the fireplace, the more dangerous it is.

Cleaning Supplies (and Other Toxic Products)

Many brand name cleaning supplies have toxins in them that are dangerous to pets if ingested. If you have a room or cabinet where you can lock them up and keep them out of reach, move them there. Child-proof locks should work, too, if you don’t mind the look of them. Alternatively, consider purchasing non-toxic cleaning supplies from now on. You can even make your own cleaning products with ingredients you may already have in the house.

Move other toxic products out of reach, including beauty products and medications. Also think about the products you’re using on your yard and garden – pesticides can be poisonous to pets.

Trash cans have an assortment of harmful objects in them, but there’s no way to not keep a trash can on the floor. Add a child’s lock to the lid or keep it behind cabinet doors so your pet can’t get into it.

Water Bowls

Both you and your pet are going to accidentally knock into the water bowl from time to time. Spilled water can go unnoticed until someone slips. To keep everyone safe, place the water bowl on top of a large boot tray or an upside down storage container top. You want to use something that has a lip. If the water spills it will still be contained.

Water Pipes

During the winter, you may be tempted to set your water heater at a higher temperature to combat the cold. When the pipes heat up too much, though, your pet could end up with third-degree burns if he gets too close. You also don’t want to overcompensate by lowering the temperature too much. Under 120 degrees means bacteria can grow in the water that you’re drinking, showering in, and giving to your pet. According to Mr. Rooter , the safest temperature is between 120 and 140 degrees.

Easy Home Hacks to Keep Your Pet Safe

In this section, we’re going to round up some simple home hacks you can start using to keep your pet safe and sound.

  • Avoid buying cheap toys for your pet. Look for ones that are durable and that won’t break apart into small pieces that pose a choking hazard. Keep this in mind when buying toys for your children as well. Your pet will just as likely chew their toys along with your children’s toys.
  • If you have a pool, use a pool cover that clips into position, so that your pet can’t nudge open.
  • During the winter, when the ground is slick, keep your dog on a leash. Otherwise, he could run and slide into fences, trees, or traffic.
  • Hang your bag high on a hook instead of plopping it on the floor. If your pet rummages through your bag, he could try to eat gum, medicine, makeup, something sharp, etc.
  • Love having your pet on the couch or bed with you? Small dogs may have trouble jumping up and down safely. Help them out with a set of pet steps.
  • Remove anything that your dog could confuse with food, like potpourri, or scented candles.

Lastly, set up a space for your pet where he’ll feel entertained, happy, and safe. If he has enough to keep him busy, he may not be as interested in exploring and getting into trouble.

Maintaining a Safe Home for Your Pet

Every month, do a walk-through of your home to make sure it’s still pet-proof . Accidents can happen at any point, even if you’re home with your pet. The best prevention is to remove hazards in the first place.

Remember, you can pet-proof only certain parts of your home if you can keep other areas off-limits. For example, if the door that leads from the house to the garage locks, you don’t have to worry about pet-proofing everything in there. It’s also a good idea to make the bathroom off-limits, since there are so many hazards in there to worry about. For other rooms or areas of the house, a dog gate will be a life saver.

Featured photo by Mike Burke


About Author

Brooke Faulkner is an animal advocate and mother of two. When she's not writing, she can usually be found zipping around on her ATV. She first fell in love with animals as a young girl, on a family visit to a goat farm in New Hampshire. She's dreamed of adopting a Great Pyrenees ever since. To read more of her words, follow @faulknercreek.

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