During this pandemic, some pets may have grown too accustomed to their owners being home 24/7. As businesses reopen and more people return to work, we want to remind pet owners to pet-proof their homes and keep potential toxins out of your pet’s reach. Here are five tips on how to pet-proof your home as you prepare to return to your pre-pandemic schedule.
1. Keep Out the Toxins
The best way to keep your pets safe is to not bring toxic items into your home. This is especially true for easily substituted items like lilies, xylitol products such as chewing gums and toothpaste, and poisonous substances like rodenticides, insecticides, and baits.
A note on rodenticides:
Even when rodenticides are placed in areas where your pet doesn’t reside, rodents often move the cubes. It’s best to not use them at all. Also, boxes and traps that are “pet-proof” can still be dangerous because pets may chew them or find other ways into them. If you have a pest problem, consult with a pest control service about safe alternatives for your pet-friendly home.
2. If You Need It…Always Keep It Out of Reach
For toxic items that you must keep in your home such as cleaner chemicals, medications, foods like chocolate or grapes, and so on, they must be stored out of your pet’s reach. Countertops and tables are NOT safe places. The best options are high cupboards, top shelves, or locked cabinets. Most importantly, do not leave these items out while your pet is unsupervised and remind kids which foods should never be left out.
Another recommendation is to take medications over a counter or other surface so if a pill is dropped or a liquid is spilled, your pet won’t be able to eat it or lick it off the floor.
3. Use Locking Cabinets and Garbage Cans
It’s great to be in the habit of shutting cabinets, drawers, and trash cans, but pets can be sneaky- and determined! Use baby-proof locks on cabinets and drawers that contain toxic items. For trash cans, it’s worth investing in one that has a locking lid, which will also prevent your pet from getting into moldy food. If your pet can outsmart these mechanisms, it may be best to crate them while you aren’t home.
4. Check the Plants
Many plants and flowers are toxic to pets so it’s important to know what is placed in your home and garden. For example, lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. If you are unsure if a plant is toxic, check with ASPCA’s Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant Guide.
5. Put Away the Purses & Bags
It’s easy to place purses, lunch boxes, and other bags on the counter, table, or floor and forget about that prescription bottle or pack of xylitol gum. Pets have a knack for sniffing out and finding these items. It’s best to develop a routine to immediately unpack any food containers and to store all purses and bags in an entryway closet or another secured spot.
We hope these tips help keep your pets safe. When in doubt, always be cautious and remember that prevention is key in deterring disasters. However, we understand that even despite our best efforts, accidents can still happen. If your pet does get into something toxic or poisonous, contact your family veterinarian, ASPCA’s Poison Control, or your local animal emergency hospital. Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota’s Oakdale facility is currently available 24/7 for curbside emergency care.