A basic rule to follow: If any or all of something will fit in the mouth, it’s dangerous, and if it’s not safe for children it’s not safe for pets.
Books, newspapers, magazines, mail, important papers; money, coin, checks — all need to be safely out of reach.
Instinctively, pets understand that wood is good for chewing. Use thick plastic sheeting or tubing to hide chair and table legs.
Some furniture types can be hazardous to cats. The reclining chair can trap a cat that curiously crawls inside. Always make a habit to check for your cat under the leg rest or inside the recliner before returning it to the upright position. Rocking chairs can roll on a cat’s tail or foot, so be sure where your cat is sitting when you decide to use the rocker.
Wheel chairs and their spokes can be dangerous for paws, and for collars and tags to be caught on. Stow these chairs away when not in use.
Use childproof latches to prevent paws from prying open cabinets.
Place medications, cleaners, chemicals, and laundry supplies on high shelves.
Cats will jump in sinks, on countertops and tables, and will lick water from the sink or nibble bits of food left after rinsing dinner dishes. Make sure to clean and rinse thoroughly and the same goes for the bath tub.
Check for and block any small spaces, nooks, or holes inside cabinets or behind washer/dryer units.
Make sure your kitten hasn’t jumped into the dryer before you turn it on. Cats love the warmth and will often crawl into clothes dryers when the dryer door is left open. Many cats have perished because their guardians have turned the dryer on without realizing they were inside.
Keep trash cans covered or inside a latched cabinet; some of the items in your trash (like chicken bones) may be dangerous for your dog to ingest.
Keep foods out of reach. Your pet can overeat and get ill or bloat (even if the food isn’t harmful, the wrapper could be).
Plastic food wrap can pose a danger if ingested when pets lick food residues off of them and bits of plastic become separated and can cause choking or an intestinal obstruction.
Rawhide chews are not necessarily harmless and can pose a danger; small bits may come off and lodge in the throat and cause choking, or create an obstruction in the stomach or intestines.
Rawhide chews can harbor salmonella, infecting the dog and family. Some manufacturers have been found to use toxic chemicals in the production of these treats.
Cigarettes, tobacco and nicotine can be fatal to dogs. Keep all cigarettes, pipes, tobacco, chewing tobacco and all other tobacco products away from pets and empty ashtrays often.
Keep the toilet lid closed. Curious puppies can become curious or thirsty and fall in head first and drown.
You also want to keep the toilet lid closed to prevent drowning, or drinking of harmful cleaning chemicals. For that reason, you should avoid using any sanitizing toilet products that are placed for continual cleaning.
Candles — never leave a burning candle unattended.
Christmas ornaments look like toys to your pet, and broken ornaments produce shards of glass that can cut your pet’s paws. Any ornament can be life-threatening if shards are eaten.
Tinsel and ribbon are cat magnets, and can cause intestinal obstructions if ingested.
Air fresheners and potpourri can be hazardous especially for cats as well as some dogs. Liquid potpourri can be found to be tasty but it is caustic and will burn esophagus linings or even poison them.
Firewood or fireplace debris is a chewing and ingesting hazard.
Always use a fireplace screen.
Put safety covers on any open power strips and outlets to keep your pet from licking the outlet or sticking a nail into it.
Move electrical and phone wires out of reach of chewing. A curious dog can suffer severe burns or even electrocution from chewing on live electrical cords.
Tame the wire clutter throughout the house, including dangling wires that pets can inadvertently find themselves tangled in. Whenever possible, “hide” cords from lamps, VCRs, televisions, stereos, and telephones under baseboards and carpet seams.
Keep out of reach hot irons, coffee pots and space heaters.
Don’t leave irons unattended. Irons left standing on ironing board can topple over and injure your pet.
Office shredders may seem harmless but they represent a huge danger. Most have an on/off switch as well as automatic-feed buttons. The motors may become warm with use and cats are known to love warm places, and more than a few canine tongues have met with a devastating outcome from these machines. Unplug the paper shredder until you need it.
Put away children’s toys and games.
Kids love play dough, but it can pose a danger to pets if pieces fall off the table onto the floor and get ingested. Play dough has a high salt content and can cause salt poisoning in pets, which can be fatal.
Put away knick-knacks until your kitten has the coordination not to knock them over.
Check all those places where your vacuum cleaner doesn’t fit, but your puppy or kitten does.
Be alert for dangerous items, like dental floss, string, sewing thread, yarn, and rubber bands, even those items chewed off a rope toy for dogs! If swallowed, these items can cause intestinal blockages and strangulations by tightening around your pet or its internal organs.
Move common house plants that may be poisonous out of reach, including the dead leaves. Don’t forget hanging plants that can be reached from nearby surfaces.
Make sure all heating/air vents have covers.
Puppies have a hard time navigating up and down stairs and could fall down them and injure themselves. Purchase baby or dog gates if there is the chance of injury.
Open windows are another potential hazard to your puppy since it can easily fall out, causing serious harm or death. On the ground floor, your puppy can escape out the window and get lost or run into the street.
For cats, window sashes and screens need to be securely in place to prevent falling or an untimely escape.
Put away all sewing and craft notions, especially thread, and sporting equipment, hunting and fishing gear.
Garages, basements, and attics are often filled with many hazardous objects. It’s best to prevent a puppy or cat from entering these rooms.
If you have a cat, litter boxes should be inaccessible to the new puppy. Litter is harmful and can poison the dog, and feces may carry worms. Stick with basic clay litters.
Move all chemicals to high shelves or behind secure doors. That includes cleaning agents, bleach, ammonia, disinfectant, drain cleaner, oven cleaner, paint, gasoline, and rodent poison. Keep them locked up.
Clean all antifreeze from the floor and driveway, as one taste can be lethal to animals.
Bang on your car hood to ensure that your kitten (or any neighborhood cat) has not hidden in the engine for warmth.
Keep all sharp objects and tools out of reach.
Keep socks out of the dog’s reach; they are a favorite chew toy for many dogs.
Keep laundry and shoes behind closed doors (drawstrings and buttons can cause major problems if swallowed).
Keep any medications, soaps, toothpaste, lotions, or cosmetics off accessible surfaces (like the bedside table).
Be careful that you don’t close your kitten in closets or dresser drawers.
If you treat your lawn with chemicals, keep pets away.
Secure garden hoses and tools.
Check fencing for escape routes because if there is one, your pet will find it.
Check carefully that there’s nowhere for your puppy to crawl under, and make sure your puppy can’t get its head stuck in fence gaps or gates.
Never tie ribbons around your puppy’s neck. If the ribbon gets caught on a fence or other object your pet could choke.
Your pet should have a well-fitted collar and the tags should not dangle too far down.
When crating your dog or puppy, remove tags and collars to prevent them getting caught in the bars. Put the collar back on immediately when you let your pet out.
Don’t put the collar on the top of the crate where your can get to it and chew on it.
Be sure the floor to the crate fits properly and covers the bottom of the wire bars. Invest in quality crate wear to prevent nail snags.
Block access to the pond or pool and other hazardous areas. Even a dog bred to swim can drown if it doesn’t know where the steps are to get out.
When you think you have done a good job dog-, kitten- and puppy-proofing, go from room to room on your hands and knees. Look at the things in your home from your puppy’s perspective and continue to be aware. You will likely see something you missed before.
Always look for objects in which a pet could get caught tangled, pulled down or ripped up. Assume every place would be an interesting place for a pet to explore, chew, shred, carry or hide.
Observe your pet’s behavior and proclivities with an eye towards possible danger problems. That will help you determine where to focus your puppy-proofing energies, and remember that a puppy can behave differently when you’re not around!