8 Steps to Making Your Home Safe for Pets

September 11, 2015 | By

Owning pets can be fun and fulfilling, but with that enjoyment comes the responsibility of keeping them healthy and safe. According to the most recent statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), dog owners averaged 2.6 vet visits per year while cat owners averaged 1.6. Medical experts recommend one preventive checkup per year, but additional visits can result in a major hit on a pet owner’s bank account.

The good news is, most pet emergencies can be avoided with just a few simple habitat tweaks. The Home Story asked pet expert Charlotte Reed for tips on how to make your home safe for pets.

1. Cover the Garbage

“The first thing you always have to think about is the garbage,” says Reed. “Pets are curious and have unbelievable powers of smell. If you have a little garbage can that the pet can jump up on, that’s not good.”

Buy a large can that has a lock built in. Avoid sensor cans — they’ll pop open if a pet walks near them. “Spend $50 on a good garbage can and you’ll prevent any food problems that lead to costly vet bills,” says Reed.

2. Mind the Meds

Another big problem pet owners have is when their animals ingest medications that are meant for humans. “Why do they do that? Because people are careless,” says Reed. “They spill medication and don’t pick it all up.”

Keep all your medications in a locked box or a closet. When taking them, make sure to sit in a spot where the medication will land on a table if there’s a spill.

3. Fortify the Perimeter

Be mindful of all the plants and trees in your yard — some can be poisonous to animals. It’s also wise to keep a clear yard with no shrubs and wood — that’s where ticks reside.

Proper fencing is important too. For those looking to buy a home, make sure the fences are in good repair. To reduce the chances of pet theft, the fence should be more than 7-feet tall and not see-through. “And make sure the fencing goes down deep into the yard so if you have a dog that’s a digger, he’s not going to escape,” says Reed.

4. Clean the Mess

A lot of dangerous things that pets eat are items that people leave around the house. Pesticides and laundry detergent must be locked up or placed on a high shelf. Stockings, underwear, and kids’ toys should be kept out of reach as well — they can be ingested and end up lodged in an animal’s intestines. Jewelry is especially attractive to cats because it’s shiny and small, says Reed.

You also want to protect your belongings. Felines love to climb and knock over stuff, so it’s a good idea to install a cat tree. Museum putty can hold down glass items and valuable objects.

5. Close the Bathroom

Keep the toilet seat down or bathroom doors closed. “You don’t want your dog licking the water out of your toilet, especially when you’re cleaning it,” she says. “There could be chemical residue that could poison it.”

6. Reduce the Water Hazards

Swimming pools are as dangerous for pets as they are for children. It’s not uncommon for dogs and cats to be loose in the neighborhood, fall in a neighbor’s pool, and then drown. Install a floating island and ramps or extra steps in your pool — it can save an animal’s life.

7. Clean the Furnace

A big mistake that pet owners make is not getting their furnace cleaned out, says Reed. “In the fall, when you kick-start your furnace, all of the mold and yeast blows into the home and lands on the dog’s skin,” she says. “That manifests into allergies — another thing that can cost you a lot of money.”

8. Install the Extra Eyes

Parents depend on baby cams to help them watch their newborns from afar, but this technology is great for pet owners too. New camera innovations include GPS tracking and room temperature alerts. The latter is especially helpful for birds, which require a warm environment. “It’s a good idea to have a camera, especially if you have an old, ill, or special-needs pet,” says Reed.

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