how to pet-proof your home

They may be cute, but our 4-footed friends can certainly make some poor decisions. So, as devoted pet-owners, it's crucial that we pet-proof our homes.

Cleaning agents, plants, and our own medications (prescription and over the counter), may be toxic to cats and dogs. Even a multivitamin can be threatening to your pet.

With that in mind, here are some pet safety guidelines to help keep your beloved (and curious) pet out of trouble.

avoid playing with string

If your pet likes to ingest string, it's a good idea to keep anything stringy — yarn, ribbons, twine, plastic tagging, dental floss — out of your pet's reach. String can get stuck in an animal's internal tract and cause fatal damage.

flush away the blue toilet water

Sure we all like a clean house, including a clean toilet bowl. But if you have a pet, forgo toilet cleaners that chemically treat the water. Many pets, either constantly or on occasion, will drink out of the toilet bowl.

know what plants are toxic to animals

While your pet may purge plant materials from time to time, ingesting some plants could be fatal. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal's (ASPCA) Poison Control Center provides a list of toxic plants. For example, lilies are poisonous to felines.

know what foods are toxic to pets

Macadamia nuts, grapes, and raisins have been blamed for acute renal failure in dogs. Other toxic foods for cats and dogs are: alcoholic beverages, avocado, chocolate, coffee, fatty foods, moldy or spoiled foods, onions and onion powder, salt, yeast dough, garlic, and products sweetened with the sugar substitute Xylitol.

dispose of trash properly

A securely closed trash can is often the last line of defense in keeping your pet from ingesting something harmful such as cigarettes, dental floss, or spoiled food. To be on the safe side, buy a trash can with a lid.

keep dishwashers closed

Pets can burn their mouths licking water from a just-used and hot dishwasher, so make sure your dishwasher, like all appliances, is closed.

don’t leave the Tylenol out

If you drop medicine, even a small tablet, find it and pick it up immediately. And make sure that any medicine containers, even herbal remedy and multivitamin bottles, are safely closed and stored out of your pet's reach.

deny access

Just like toddler-proofing a house, pet-proofing requires vigilance when it comes to cleaning agents and other poisons. As a pet owner, it's important to know what your pet is capable of, and then store anything harmful out of its reach.

inventory your garage

It's also important to keep chemicals commonly stored in your garage out of your pet's reach. Just one teaspoon of antifreeze, for example, can be deadly to a cat. Store chemicals out of reach even if your pet typically stays indoors, as there's always a chance that they'll sneak into the garage at some point.

the grass isn’t always greener on the other side

But that doesn't stop your pampered pet from escaping from time to time. Make sure window screens are properly installed and doors are securely closed.

act, don’t panic

If a toxin does get on your furry friend's coat, wash it off with a safe soap and warm water before your pet tries to lick it off. If your pet gets sick, be prepared. Besides your veterinarian, know ahead of time who to contact during off-hours (such as a 24/7 pet hospital and the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center).

Protecting your beloved pets is important. So is protecting your home. Get peace of mind when you get a quote for affordable, reliable homeowners insurance.

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