Home Health Dangers: Is Your Four-Legged Friend At Risk?

Keep your pets safe when you're not at home

From gnawing on cables to climbing on furniture, our pets can get into all sorts of mischief -- and they often do. As cute and funny as they may be, this can create all sorts of problems when we leave them alone, especially considering there are a number of serious hazards lurking around the home.

Thankfully, you can take steps to create a safe environment for your fur baby. In addition to teaching them about what’s safe and what isn’t, there are ways to protect your pet from household dangers. “It’s about having common sense and predicting what could happen in the home and preventing it from happening,” explains Laura Vissaritis, animal behaviourist and author of Dognitive Therapy. Read on to learn more.

Secure drawers and cabinets

Both dogs and cats are known to be curious and playful in the home, often getting into areas they shouldn’t. They can also be surprisingly clever when it comes to opening cabinets and drawers, placing them at risk of swallowing harmful chemicals, medications, and small objects.

“The worst types of cupboards are the ones that close automatically,” Laura explains. And that's not all. “What’s more, dogs in particular can open handles with their mouth or paws.” To prevent this, install child-proof locks on cabinets that hold dangerous objects.

She advises that we avoid tying handles closed with string-like materials, twist ties or rubber bands. “If swallowed, these objects can get stuck in your pet’s gut and cause serious damage. And animals often end up in the emergency department with all sorts of things stuck in their bellies because they had access and were curious,” she says.

It’s normal for all dogs to chew on things. Image: Getty.
Seal nooks and crannies

Curious critters love to find tiny spaces to explore, and this can present problems for your fur buddy. “Cats in particular love to find safe places to nap and are more likely to try to get in and around small spaces,” Laura explains. Case in point: Miffy the cat, who climbed into her owner’s washing machine and subsequently went through the spin cycle.

“If you’re going to leave your pet by themselves, it’s important to block off dangerous areas to prevent them from getting into mischief,” Laura says. “This includes sealing spaces around your washing machine, fridge or dishwasher.” Whether it’s five or 10cm, if you think the gap is unsafe for your pet, make sure they can’t get in.

Remove electrical dangers

It’s normal for all dogs, not just puppies, to chew on things. The risk of burns and electrocution from chewing on electrical cables is one of the most common types of injuries for household pets. “Any cord that’s accessible needs not to be,” Laura advises. “Anything that’s plugged in, including scented diffusers, lamps or other appliances such as laptops should also be safeguarded.”

Make sure cabling is inaccessible by hiding it, tunnelling it under the carpet or covering it with insulation tape. You can also prevent dogs from chewing on dangerous objects by teaching them the “command to leave” technique. “To do this, when introducing your pet to the danger, say the words 'leave it', and then reward your pooch with a treat,” she advises.

Cats love to explore nooks and crannies. Image: Getty.
Place food out of reach

Leaving food scraps out can be a potential problem for pets. “If you’re going to bring a pet into your home, you need to be aware of what’s dangerous just in case something should happen. It’s like any responsible parent – you need to know what’s safe and what isn’t,” Laura says.

While the list of foods to avoid can seem endless, some of the more common culprits include onion, garlic, chocolate, raisons, and avocado. That said, wrappers and peels may also present a choking hazard for pets. “Try to ensure these items are out of your pet’s reach,” Laura advises. This includes securing food in your pantry and ensuring your bin lid remains closed.

Feature image: Getty.