Tips for keeping your home pet-safe and pet-friendly

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By Katelyn Doggett

Whether you just got a new pet or have had your four-legged friend for many years, it’s always important that your pet lives in a safe environment, free from health hazards. While some of these tips may seem like common sense, it’s important to take proper measures to make sure your furry friend is healthy and happy in your home. If you suspect that your pet’s health is in danger contact your veterinarian or animal hospital immediately.

Check from a pet’s eye view

Try getting down on all fours to take a tour of your house. By doing this you can see exactly what your dog and cat can see, which often may be overlooked. Identify and fix any hazards that you may not have noticed previously. Check for any choking, strangulation, suffocation and electrocution hazards. Unplug or cover wires and electrical cords so your pet can’t get to them.

Make sure there are no human foods or medications that pets can easily access. Remove objects that act as ladders to counters or tables, where pets can get into mischief. Consider latching cupboards that contain cleaning supplies.

Take out the trash

Discard perishable trash daily to keep pets from rummaging through it, or make sure your pet has no way to access the trashcan. Trash often contains unforeseen choking hazards or poisonous foods. Common foods that are hazardous to animals include chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, onion, avocado, grapes, milk and many more. View the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s (ASPCA) complete list of people foods to avoid feeding your pet at bit.ly/hazardousfoods.

Rethink your plants

Many common houseplants are toxic to pets, so make sure your indoor varieties are pet safe. While the plants might be pretty, why risk your pets health? Plants that are known to be toxic are amaryllis, poinsettia, mums, lilies and aloe. Check ASPCA’s complete list of known toxic plants at bit.ly/toxic_plants.

Proper food storage

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises storing pet food and treats in the original container or bag. If you want to store dry food in a storage container, put the entire bag into the container, rather than pouring the food into it. Use only clean, dry, food-grade containers with lids. Store dry food in a cool, dry location with a temperature cooler than 80 degrees. Wet food should be stored at or below 40 degrees in the refrigerator. Wash and dry food and water bowls and scooping utensils daily.

Window screens

Window screens are a must if you leave your window open. Unscreened windows pose a danger to cats, which fall out of open windows so often veterinarians have named the complaint High-Rise Syndrome. Falling can result in broken limbs, punctured lungs and even death. According to the ASPCA, cats may be at a greater risk of injury if they fall from a one or two story building. Shorter distances do not give cats enough time to adjust their posture to fall correctly.

Create a pet area

To keep your pet extra safe, designate an area solely for them. Provide a bed, food, clean water and toys in an area without any potential hazards. However, make sure to store a litter box in a place away from the feeding area or your pet may not use it. If your pet is curious, consider crate training or block off an area with a baby gate.

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