Back to News

By Dr. Donna Spector
Published: November 14, 2013

Pets are naturally curious and are always ready to explore the world around them. Keep your pet out of harm’s way by properly pet-proofing your home and yard. Dr. Donna recommends the following tips for effective pet-proofing:

Plant-proof your home and yard for your dogs and cats

Many flowers, plants, trees and shrubs can be toxic to pets. Ask your VCA veterinarian or see the ASPCA’s list of plants that are poisonous to pets to identify possible problem flora in your home and yard!

Poison-proof your home and yard for your pets

Keep all potentially hazardous chemicals, cleaners or medications high up and preferably in locked cabinets to prevent your pet from nosing around where they shouldn’t be. Just a few to remember:

  • Antifreeze and other car or garage chemicals
  • Rat poison, slug bait or other “pest” poisons
  • Insecticides, pesticides, herbicides or other “cides”
  • All household or cleaning supplies
  • Tobacco products, drugs and alcohol
  • Prescription and non-prescription medications (yours or your pet’s)

Food-proof your home for your cat or dog

Human foods are toxic to pets. Ask your VCA veterinarian for a list of common toxic foods or visit the ASPCA website to review human foods to avoid giving to your pet. Some additional helpful tips:

  • Don’t keep food or tasty morsels on the counter tops
  • Be sure to securely close your trash cans
  • Plastic bags of all kinds�"those found in cereal boxes, chip bags, grocery bags, etc.�"pose a suffocation risk to pets. Keep all bags out of reach!!
  • Although not toxic, keep your pet’s food in a securely closed container. Many pets, if allowed free-access to their bag of food, will overeat to the point of a possibly life-threatening stomach bloating emergency.

Accident-proof your home for dogs and cats.

While not all accidents can be prevented�"many of them can. These tips will help you avoid pet problems around the house.

  • Plastic bags of all kinds�"those found in cereal boxes, chip bags, grocery bags, etc.�"pose a suffocation risk to pets. Keep all bags out of reach!!
  • Keep trash cans securely locked or in a child-proofed cabinet to prevent your pet from eating his or her way through the garbage!
  • Be very careful when using rockers or recliners as smaller pets can get crushed and even larger dogs can get legs broken under these chairs.
  • Unplug, or at least turn off, paper shredders and other office equipment when not in use to prevent serious injuries.
  • Electrical cords, if chewed by your pet, can pose a risk for burning or even electrocution and must be kept out of reach. If needed, use special cord wrap or plastic pipe to keep a visible cord out of a pet’s inquisitive reach.
  • Gate off fireplaces or other hot surfaces to avoid burns. Keep candles, incense or potpourri in a high area to avoid burns. Keep in mind that many cats will be attracted to the light and warmth and may climb very high to get to these things. In this case, you might want to try flameless candles to avoid singed whiskers or even worse.
  • Cut excess cords off draperies or blinds to avoid a strangulation hazard.
  • Keep your laundry off the floor�"some pets eat the darnedest things including socks, underwear and yes, even pantyhose!
  • Keep windows closed or install safety screens to prevent your pet from falling out. Pets do not understand if you live in a high-rise building and many cats will jump out of a window after a bird flying by.
  • Pick up after your children and yourself�"small toys or objects can easily become a plaything and readily be swallowed.

Accident-proof your yard for your pet’s safety

  • Gate or fence in pools, ponds and even small streams to prevent accidental drowning.
  • Gate or fence in fire pits or other heat sources to prevent burns.
  • Keep all lawn or equipment chemicals securely put away.
  • Have your garage door equipped with sensors that can detect motion or even the smallest pet.
  • Fence your yard to prevent your pet from roaming and meeting trouble or getting lost outside your yard. If you live in a winter climate, keep the snow from piling up around the perimeter of the fence…many pets have escaped a yard by climbing out this way. Perform fence maintenance at least once each year to avoid escape routes from developing.
  • Take a walk around your yard once a week and make sure there is nothing your pet could hurt themselves on. Pick up any foreign objects, sharp branches or small stones that may be swallowed.

If you have a particularly inquisitive pet, when in doubt keep items up high or locked away to avoid unnecessarily exposing your pet to a potential hazard.