Pet Safety Guide
There is simply nothing that compares to welcoming a pet into your family. Starting a life with a new and exuberant friend is exciting, however, it also comes with a number of preparations in order to make sure your home is pet-friendly.
To help prepare for your pet, use the guide below to ensure you have all of the supplies, beginner tips and home safeguards prepared before you have four little paws running around your house.
How To Pet Proof Your Home
Preparation is key! Before your new friend arrives, every room in the house has to be scoured for hazards.
To learn more on pet proofing a specific area of the home, click on the corresponding room. Once you're ready to run through the safety of your home, download and print our home safety checklist.
Tap on a room below to reads pet proofing tips.
There are some general rules of thumb to consider right off the bat in order to keep your pet in its place:
- Pet proof gates: Put up child gates to keep your pup in a specific area. You might be surprised by how nimble a new pet can be – opt for a gate with vertical bars rather than a netting to guarantee that they can’t scramble up and over the obstacle.
- Check your doors: Make sure doors close properly, so they can’t be knocked open with a simple push. Puppies will try to get into everything and may nudge against a door until it opens.
- Secure your doorknobs: Some door handles can be pulled down to release the locking mechanism. Add a bolt lock if necessary.
- Keep your blinds out of reach: Venetian blinds are a favorite target for dogs who want to see squirrels and delivery drivers out of your windows – pull these kind of blinds open when you leave the dog for any length of time to avoid destruction.
Many people keep puppies in the kitchen during the potty training stage because tile floors are easier to clean when faced with accidents, but the kitchen can also be one of the most dangerous rooms in the house for your dog.
- Secure your cabinets: Investing in childproof latches will keep dogs from pulling out every piece of tupperware and chewing on pot lids.
- Move anything poisonous: Place cleaning materials, medicines, vitamins and any chemicals that might cause illness in a higher place – above the fridge often works.
- Trash is dangerous: Your pet can be drawn to all the weird smells in your trashcan and eating garbage can make your dog very sick. Putting trash under the sink in a secure cabinet or in a metal can with a lid with a latch is imperative. Also secure your can to the wall if it is out in the open – pets will knock over the can to get at the goods inside.
- Keep people food out of reach: It’s important to know that certain types of food such as grapes and chocolate are treats for people, but are toxic for dogs. Beyond that, even packaging can be troublesome. Twist ties and plastic bags can be very dangerous for your pet to ingest.
A new pet will get into everything and try to chew whatever it can, sometimes even the furniture. With that in mind, the living room has a number of hazards to consider.
- Hide wiring and cover sockets: Some dogs like to chew wires and destroy computer cords. In addition to the damage, there is a chance of electrocution, so make sure you tend to all wires and sockets.
- Secure games and toys: The small pieces in these items can cause a dog to choke, plus I’m sure you’d prefer to have all of the hotels in your Monopoly set so keep them in a secure location.
- Check your plants: Many plants are poisonous, such as sago palms, lilies, azaleas and tulips. Before beautifying with greenery, check this list from the Humane Society.
- Move breakable items up high: Anything that can be shattered should be taken off the ground. Puppies don’t have a concept of valuables and can easily smash a vase into dangerous shards.
- Secure the fireplace: Put a fire screen up to keep your pet from being scorched by fire or embers that might fly up from the hearth. Even when the fire isn’t burning, ash can get everywhere if you let your dog anywhere near it. Don’t forget to keep wood, fire starter logs and matches or lighters secure. Dogs will gnaw on anything and these will make them sick.
Who doesn’t want a little affection after a long day. Your pet definitely will. A recent study proved that dogs love to be near you nearly all the time. When you settle down for the night, your dog will want to be there as a companion. Whether you let them into your bed, or put a dog bed out for them is up to you, but there are dangers to consider, even in the sanctity of the master bedroom.
- Hair products: Unplug and store any hair dryers or straighteners out of reach so puppies cannot chew at the cords. Clips and ties are possibly harmful and also any cosmetics or lotions can be toxic for dogs if they eat them.
- Consider your clutter: Keeping clothes on the floor is an invitation for an accident to happen. Time to think about keeping everything in the dresser or hamper.
Adult dogs can learn to hold it for 8-10 hours, but puppies need more relief. According to National Geographic, three month old puppies need to pee about every four hours. Since they’re still learning and won’t yet be able to control themselves, accidents will happen. Often it’s easier to clean up unwanted puddles when keeping a puppy in the bathroom, but there are some risks involved too.
- Water hazards: You don’t want your dog drinking toilet water – keep the lid closed and secured with a toilet lock, and stop using any sanitizing flush products. The tub can also be a possible drowning concern if you leave any water in it, so make sure you drain it after every use.
- Secure your paper goods and cleansers: A puppy looking for trouble will likely attack toilet paper, you might want to consider a strategy for keeping it from harm; in addition, all of your make-up, toothpaste, medicine, cleaning supplies that are part of your daily bathroom routine need to be out of reach of tiny paws.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), dogs average a body temperature of about 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, so that’s why they often like to relax in colder places like on tile or concrete. Since many laundry rooms have tile flooring, it’s another place to secure before bringing your friend home.
- Behind the appliances: You might forget that your washer and dryer are movable if shoved by a persistent pet. Make sure these are secure and there are no small areas behind them where a dog can get stuck.
- Move laundry supplies: Detergent, fabric softener sheets and other cleaners may smell interesting to dogs – keep them away from inquiring noses.
- Check inside the machine: Before turning on your washer or dryer, make sure your pet hasn’t found a way to crawl inside. Dryers are especially enticing.
Want to give them a chance to run, but don’t have a big yard? The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests dog owners build dog runs at at least 10 feet x 10 feet or 5 feet x 15 feet regardless of the size of your dog. It’s always good to get your dog outside for some play time in the fresh air, but there are outdoor issues to prepare for too.
- Fence quality: If you let your dog into a fenced yard, check for holes in the slats and make sure that your dog can’t easily dig under the fence and escape. Make sure you also have a sturdy screen for your patio that your dog can’t scratch through.
- Garden toxins: Don’t let your dog out if you’ve used any pesticides, chemicals or herbicides. It can harm their skin or make them sick on contact. Also check the Humane Society list to make sure you don’t have any harmful plants growing where your dog can consume them – avoid dieffenbachia, philodendron and hyacinth.
- Too much mulch: Cocoa based mulches can make your dogs sick if consumed, so consider pine, cedar or hemlock mulches as an alternative. Make sure that you keep an eye on your puppy when you first let them outside because in general, ingesting any kind of mulch can be harmful. If you reprimand them from the beginning, they’re less likely to be interested later.
- Pick up after your dog: Aside from being bad for your lawn, dog waste left outside can become harmful to the environment and make you sick. Pick up every day. Convenient bag dispensers or scoopers make this chore a little easier.
- Garage safety: Clean the garage floor to make sure your puppy doesn’t come into contact with chemicals like oil or antifreeze. And keep sharp objects and tools out of reach. Make sure power tools are always unplugged when not in use.
- Barbeque: If cooking outside, keep your dog well away from the hot grill. Make sure a dog is inside or secured with a leash because cooking food smells delicious.
New Owner Checklist
Once your home is ready, it’s time to research what kind of dog is right for you. The American Kennel Club even has an online method, but you should consider how much space you have, the size of dog you want and the temperament of certain breeds. If you have children, you should ask if the kind of dog you are getting is said to be good with kids, for example. When going out to visit a shelter or breeder to just have a look, make sure to bring your checkbook. One of those puppies will almost definitely steal your heart. Then there are a number of steps still to take in order to make sure your new friend will be healthy and happy.
Supplies You Need
The pet industry is booming (a record $60 Billion in 2015) and there’s a reason for that. A dog requires some material investment in order to keep them healthy in your home. Some of these items depend on the specific breed and how you are planning to train them, but many items are imperative.
With the right preparation, attitude towards safety and tools of the trade, you will be all set to welcome home your new best friend.
- APPA – Pet Industry Spending Makes History: Surpasses $60 Billion
- Consumer Reports – Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?
- ASPCA – General Pet Care; Shelter Intake and Surrender
- AKC – AKC Dog Breed Selector
- Mic. – Brain Scans Reveal What Dogs Really Think of Us
- The Pekingese Club of America – Purpose of the Breed
- Humane Society – Plants Potentially Poisonous to Pets
- The Nest – How Big Should a Dog Kennel Be?
- National Geographic – How Long Is Too Long to Leave Your Dog Alone?
- Animal Planet – What’s a Dog’s Normal Body Temperature?