Locally-Owned in Oakdale and St. Paul, Minnesota

Creating a Safe Environment for Your Pets at Home

Small dog in dog bed on top of a human bed.

If your pet is experiencing a severe trauma or profuse bleeding, these are considered “RED” – or true emergencies – on our Fast Track Triage system. We advise you to seek immediate veterinary care. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!

 If you witnessed or strongly suspect your pet ingested something toxic, this is considered an “ORANGE” – or urgent case – on our Fast Track Triage system. We recommend calling ASPCA Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 for help determining if your pet consumed a toxic amount and for guidance on what to do next. If veterinary care is advised, call your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital ahead of your arrival.

About 30% of our ER cases stem from types of emergencies that could have been prevented! In March of 2024, Dr. Berg, one of our emergency veterinarians, joined us on Facebook Live to discuss how to create a safe environment for our pets at home. Watch the video replay for a more in-depth discussion or read below for a brief breakdown of Dr. Berg’s best pet-proofing tips and easy ways to prevent common trauma-induced accidents.  

Pet-Proofing Tips 

 1. Use Caution with Chairs 

If you have a recliner, rocking chair, or office chair with wheels, always be careful when using it! Often, cats or small dogs go inside a recliner when it’s reclined and then when their human closes it, the pet incurs significant injuries. Similarly, rocking chairs or office chairs can be dangerous if your pet is behind or under the chair. 

Tip: Get in the habit of always looking and triple-checking that a pet isn’t under your recliner, rocking chair, or office chair before moving!  

2. Invest in Trash Cans with Lids 

Too often, cats find dental floss from an open bathroom trash can, ingest it, and wind up in the ER. Cats think this string-like object is a toy. When swallowed, the dental floss can damage the intestines and the cat will require emergency surgery. 

Tip: Invest in trash cans that can be sealed shut with a lid or a magnetic closing. Other options include placing your trash can inside a closet or vanity cabinet. 

Medication bottle with pills spilling out.

3. Keep Medications Out of Reach 

While most pill bottles are childproof, they aren’t pet-proof! Pets can chew right through pill bottles and containers to consume the pills inside – anything from Advil to prescription drugs are considered dangerous! 

Tip: Keep medications and pill containers in a cabinet or up high so your pets can’t get into them – especially if your cat tends to knock things off the counter to your waiting dog! Also, whenever you are taking medications, do so over the counter. That way, if you drop a pill, it will land on the counter and not on the floor for your pet to find. 

4. Put Away the Purses & Bags 

Speaking of medications – many people tend to place them in a purse or bag, as well as other potential toxins like chocolate, xylitol gum, boxes of raisins, and so on! When a purse gets left on the floor, it becomes a bag full of potentially deadly dangers for your pet. Even if zippers are closed – where there’s a will, there’s a way!  

Tip: Don’t place bags and purses on the floor, table, or counter. Instead, place them up and out of your pet’s reach. For example, the upper shelf of a coat closet might be a great spot in your house for these items! Also, keep kids’ backpacks and lunch boxes out of your pet’s reach! Often food can be forgotten in a lunchbox, especially on Fridays or before a break, and your Labrador won’t be deterred by the mold on that sandwich! 

Dog lying down on kitchen floor.

Accident Prevention 

Our pets might accidentally hurt themselves in many ways. Two categories stand out the most though: 

Jumping Off Furniture 

Older pets or pets with skinny legs (very common in small breed dogs) often jump from beds, couches, or other high furniture. This can be so hard on their joints and cause injuries, including fractures.  

Tip: Invest in pet-specific stairs! These are great to place against your bed or other places your pet frequents to prevent jumping and associated injuries. 


Senior pets or pets with mobility issues are at higher risk of experiencing joint issues or fractures due to slipping, sliding, and falling.  

Tip: Use yoga mats or toe grips if you have hardwood floors so your pet can walk safely across the floor and have an easier time rising from a reclined position. 

A cat lying on human's lap.

We hope this information comes in handy to help keep your pets happy and healthy at home! You can ask your family veterinarian for more specific pet-proofing tips based on your pet’s habits.  

If your pet does get into something toxic or sustains an injury, both our Oakdale and St. Paul ERs are open 24/7. Our Oakdale Urgent Care is also open 2PM – 10PM, 7 days a week. 

More Reading: 

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, Fast Track Triage, color-coded triage system, pet emergency, Twin Cities emergency vet, Minnesota emergency vet, Saint Paul emergency vet, Oakdale emergency vet

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