People love their pets and want to do everything they can to keep them safe. Pets are vulnerable to a wide range of household items that range from food to everyday objects, such as rubber bands. As a result, they depend on their people to not only love them, but to create an environment that's free of hazards. Knowing what's harmful to animals is an important first step in creating a safe home, as is knowing how to keep them safely away from curious pets.
Bathrooms are full of items that people use for grooming and cleaning. These items need to be kept securely away from pets that might enter the room. It's also a room where many people store medications, which should always be tightly closed and stored out of reach, preferably in a closed medicine cabinet.
- Medications, either prescription or over-the-counter, are potentially dangerous to animals.
- Even in small doses, acetaminophen can be toxic and even deadly to pets, especially cats.
- Razors can cause damage such as cuts to paws, snouts, and even more serious injuries if swallowed.
- Dental floss, if swallowed, can cause intestinal problems, such as blockage, and may be poisonous to a pet's system.
- Toilet water, which is filled with bacteria and cleaning chemicals, can make pets who drink from toilets sick. People with pets should keep all toilet lids closed when not in use.
- Curling irons can fall and seriously burn a pet. To ensure one's pet won't get entangled in cords and accidentally pull down hair-styling tools, keep cords from dangling off the counter while they are in use.
- People should unplug curling irons when not using them. This will reduce the risk of them falling and hitting their pets.
- Keep a covered garbage can in the bathroom to help prevent pets from rummaging in the trash, making certain that it is always closed.
- Toilet bowl and other bathroom cleaners are toxic if digested. Store them in closed cabinets with safety latches.
- Bubble baths, soap, and other human toiletries, if ingested, can poison a pet. Storing these items in a hanging shower caddy instead of along the side of the bathtub can keep them safely out of the reach of pets.
- Only bathe pets with shampoos that are meant for them. Dog shampoo on dogs, cat shampoo on cats, for example.
Bedrooms are typically a place where people unwind. They’re also a place where people may not be as diligent as they should be in keeping things out of their pet's reach.
- Shoes are a common temptation for pets that like to chew. Close closet doors to prevent pets from chewing on shoes and other objects that can get lodged in their throats or cause internal damage if swallowed.
- Socks and even underwear, if swallowed, can block parts of the GI tract and may even lead to death.
- Keep windows closed while sleeping or whenever pets are alone in the room. Excitable pets may jump on the window screen and fall through, harming themselves if they fall from high up.
- Never leave pets alone with lit candles. They are not only a fire hazard, but they can harm the pet as well.
- Close lotions or other cosmetics when they are not being used.
- Mothballs are poisonous to pets. Refrain from using them or keep them in a secure location.
- Rings, earrings, and other jewelry are a choking risk. After taking them off, always put them back in their jewelry box or in a closed drawer.
- Purses, which often contain a range of potentially dangerous items from gum to coins, should put in a place where pets cannot rummage through them.
Often, pets don't have routinely free access to garages. When they do, potential hazards surround them, many of which can be lethal.
- Antifreeze, which is often stored in garages, has a sweet taste that is appealing to dogs. It contains ethylene glycol and is highly toxic to the point of kidney failure and, ultimately, death.
- Baits, such as snail and rat bait, can be toxic and potentially deadly. When using baits, place them in areas that aren't easily accessible to household pets.
- Both fertilizers and weed killers are appealing to many pets because of their ingredients and taste. They can, however, cause problems such as stomach and mouth irritation. Store fertilizers and herbicides in an area that is high up and out of their reach. When using these chemicals, keep pets away from areas where they are in use.
- Keep latex paint cans closed and where pets don't have access to them. Often latex paint contains a small amount of antifreeze, enough to cause an upset stomach.
- Tools, including nails, are common in garages. They can cause injuries to paws or internal injury if swallowed.
The kitchen is one of the most dangerous places for a pet. Food, cooking activities, and utensils all have the potential to cause them serious harm.
- Install child safety locks to keep doors shut as some animals will paw or nudge a closed cabinet open.
- Store breakable dishes and glasses so they cannot fall or be knocked over by curious pets.
- Always dispose of food and other kitchen-related waste in a garbage can that's kept in a latched cabinet or in a can that has a cover.
- Never leave knives and other sharp utensils in a place where they may fall as they can injure or even kill a pet.
- There are many foods that should be kept out of reach of household pets:
- Chocolate: The caffeine and theobromine in chocolate are the elements that make it toxic to dogs, with dark and baker's chocolate being the most dangerous. Signs that a dog has ingested chocolate include vomiting, muscle tremors, and increased thirst. In some cases, chocolate can lead to death.
- Xylitol: The sugar sweetener xylitol, which is often found in sugar-free gum, can cause seizures, low blood sugar, coma, and liver failure. Even in small amounts, it is potentially lethal to dogs. Symptoms of a pet that has ingested xylitol include vomiting, difficulty walking, lethargy, and tremors.
- Grapes: Grapes are a choking hazard for pets and contain a toxic compound that's dangerous. Pets should not be fed or have access to raisins as well.
- Avocados: The Persin found in avocado skin, seed, and fruit can poison pets and cause diarrhea and vomiting.
- Yeast: Yeast, including the yeast found in uncooked bread dough, can cause serious problems if eaten. The heat from the animal's stomach causes the dough to rise and release an alcohol by-product. Pets may experience vomiting, bloating, and symptoms associated with alcohol toxicity.
Laundry rooms house washing machines, dryers, cleaners, and chemicals. Often these chemicals, such as bleach, are harsh and unsafe for pets. Even laundry room appliances can be dangerous to certain types of animals.
- Laundry products such as detergent and fabric softener are hazardous to pets and can cause respiratory, oral, and GI injury and irritation.
- Laundry pods should also be kept in a secured container or cabinet as they can burst if a dog or cat bites down on them. When this happens, it can cause a deadly reaction called chemical pneumonia.
- Fabric softener sheets are another threat to pets that, if swallowed, can prevent breathing.
- Keep washers and dryers closed when not in use and always check to ensure that a cat or other pet has not jumped into one before doing a load of laundry.
Living room/Family room
Living and family rooms are areas where families gather for fun and relaxation. In these rooms, dangerous elements may not be as obvious to pet owners; however, pets often find items to chew on or ingest. People should routinely look over their living room to check for anything that might be unsafe for pets.
- Remove or raise any dangling cords from window treatments to reduce the risk of accidental strangulation.
- Move long, dangling cords that are attached to lamps or other household items. Pets can get tangled and accidentally pull down these items and injure themselves should they fall and it hit them or break.
- Some animals may chew on power cords, which can be harmful. Use cord protectors, run them through PVC pipe, or cover them with electrical tape so they are less accessible.
- Certain plants are poisonous to animals that may chew on them. Check all plants to ensure they are safe around the pets in the house.
- Keep any harmful plants in a location where they cannot be reached. In homes with cats, keep these plants where one cannot jump to reach them.
- Loose change is a choking hazard and should never be left lying around. Pennies, depending on when they were minted, may also contain zinc.
- String, batteries, and small children's toys are all also choking hazards. Pick these items up and put them in their appropriate place, away from unattended pets.
- Install an indoor security camera to keep an eye on your pet, even when you aren’t at home with them.
Additional resources for pet safety at home
- Chocolate Poisoning
- Is Bread Dough Poisonous to Dogs
- Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs... It's Deadly!
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) Poisoning Alert for Dogs and Cats
- Can Dogs Safely Eat Grapes
- Pet-Proof Your Home
- How to Keep Your Pet Safe Around Cleaning Products
- 101 Things You Didn't Know Could Harm Your Pet (PDF)
- Everyday Poisons & Dangers to Pets (PDF)
- Pet-Proofing Your Home
- How to Keep Your Cat From Chewing Electrical Cords
- Five Ways to Make Your Living Space More Pet Friendly
- Why Does My Dog Chew on My Underwear and Socks?
- Antifreeze Poisoning in Dogs
- Dog Proofing Your Home
- Make Your House Pet Friendly
- What Pet Dangers Are in Your Garage?
- Household Hazards
- How to Dog-Proof Your Home
- Five Danger Zones in Your Home for Pets and Children
- Tips for Puppy-Proofing Your Home
- How to Make Your Home Cat Friendly
- What Household Items Are Dangerous to Cats
- Cat Safe Houseplants
- Is Your Home Safe for Your Pet? (PDF)
- What are Some Indoor Safety Hazards for Your House Pet Rabbits
- Outdoor and Indoor Hazards
- Home Safety Checklist for Your Pet (PDF)
- Keeping Pets Safe in the Home
- 17 Best Tips for Pet Care and Pet Safety