Before you bring a cat or dog into your home, it’s wise to pet proof your space.
“Pets are like perpetual toddlers,” says Shawna Garner, DVM, lead veterinarian at FirstVet, an app-based vet service. That’s particularly true for kittens and puppies, but even more mature pets will be curious to explore a new space, Garner points out.
That exploration and childlike activity can lead to trouble: Pets can get trapped in tight spaces, fall down stairs or out windows, encounter toxic items, or eat any number of harmful items, from socks to human medications.
Fortunately, many of these accidents are preventable with a few readjustments. This room-by-room guide walks you through essential pet-proofing tasks.
How to Get Started
Garner recommends following a common strategy used by baby- and child-proofers: Get on your hands and knees so you’re at your animal’s eye level. Then, look for pitfalls—anything a pet can jump on, knock over, or reach.
Your pet’s breed, age, and characteristics will determine the extent of your pet proofing. All cats are curious, but some cats are really, really curious. Some pets want to chomp on plants, others ignore them. Dogs differ by breed: For example, huskies and greyhounds are high stress, bichons and Labradors are high energy, and Newfoundlands and mastiffs are sedentary, notes Shadi Ireifej, DVM, DACVS, founder and owner of VetTriage, a televet service.
Smart Tip: Even if you’re diligent with pet proofing, all pet owners should have pet insurance, especially those who have animals at a higher risk for trouble, Ireifej recommends.
Pet-proofing is just as important for pet sitters or people fostering pets as it is for pet parents. In fact, it’s a good idea for pet sitters to be extra cautious: It’s a truism for vets that “trouble always strikes when the pet owner is away,” Ireifej says. “Extra diligence is expected of a pet sitter.”