Before introducing a pet to your household, take a few precautions to make sure your home is animal-friendly. Here are some ways to make your abode safe and hazard-free for your dog or cat:
- Keep medicines in a locked cabinet or on a high shelf, and alert guests who may have medicines to keep them secure. “The National Animal Poison Control Center receives the most calls about human drugs inadvertently ingested by animals,” says Deborah Lee Pickett, a veterinarian in Burnsville, Pa
- Keep all chemicals in a locked cabinet. Common hazards include ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint thinners, drain cleaners, insecticides, mothballs, fabric softener sheets and garden products such as fertilizers.
- Some plants are toxic to pets, including lilies, tulip bulbs, sago palms, poinsettias, philodendrons, daffodils and azaleas. Keep them out of reach or don’t have them at all.
- Restrict access to foods that can be poisonous to pets, including chocolate, yeast, grapes, onions, raisins, Macadamia nuts, alcohol, and products such as gum that contain the sweetener xylitol.
- Cover electrical outlets and remove cords that can be chewed. Keep toilet lids and dryer doors shut. If your cat jumps, screen windows and secure lamps, pictures and collectibles. Don’t leave hot irons or stove burners unattended.
- “When you’re done pet-proofing, get down on your hands and knees and go through your house to see what you may have overlooked,” advises Paris Parmenter, of DogTipper.com.
If you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic item, call your vet immediately, Pickett says. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, profound lethargy and severe uncoordination. You also can call the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. Visit the website aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control to learn more about protecting your pet from poisonous substances.