For most of us, our pets are as much as “family” as any human relative, and even though we try to be diligent about pet safety, sometimes the simplest things can evade us and wind up costing a pretty penny with an emergency trip to the vet. In fact, the most recent statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), dog owners averaged 2.6 vet visits per year while cat owners averaged 1.6 visits per year. Annual medical check-ups can sometimes seem costly but are usually regarded as a necessity, but the unplanned visits that can arise from pet emergencies add up quickly and can really put a dent in your budget. Luckily, with just a few around-the-house tweaks, you can help prevent the kind of scenario that ends in a visit to the vet, which means less strain on you, your pet, and your pocketbook.
Pet Safety Around the House
Secure the perimeter.
With these words, you automatically think, “fence,” right? And that’s great, because that is an important part of keeping your pet safe. If you’re buying a home that already has a fence, check it to make sure that it’s sturdy and in good repair. To prevent pet theft, a pet fence should be solid (not see-through), and at least (if not over) 7 feet tall. If you’re trying to keep in a dog that tends to be a digger, then make sure the fencing goes down deep into the ground; otherwise, the chances of escape are very good. But what most people don’t think about, and should, when considering the relationship between their yard and their pet(s) are plants. Some species of plants can be harmful and even poisonous to animals, so make sure that you know exactly what you’ve got growing around your house. Avoid exposing your pet to overgrowth and heavily wooded areas that may surround your property, since these types of areas are breeding grounds for ticks.
Watch the water.
People tend to be mindful of the threat that a pool can pose to unattended children, but they don’t consider the same dangers are present for pets. Dogs and cats, like people, can swim and can also drown. Install a floating island and ramps or extra steps in your pool–doing so can be the difference between life and death for a pet.
Be on the lookout.
Parents of newborns find baby cams useful to keep an eye on their infants, but don’t let the name fool you — this technology can be for pet safety, too. Innovative camera technology with features such as room temperature control and GPS tracking can be of great use to pet owners who don’t have the luxury of taking their pets to the office with them. Room temperature alerts/remote controlled home climates (such as through a smartphone) can be especially helpful for birds since they require a warm environment. Home cameras can also be an advantage to the owners of pets that are elderly, ill or have special needs. Personally, I want to get one just to find out what exactly my dog does while we’re gone. I suspect it’s an intense routine of looking out the window and sleeping.
Pay attention to your pills.
I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve dropped pills, or, better still, have had them take a life of their own and merrily roll their way off the counter. And it always happens when you’re in a hurry, or having one of those foggy mornings — we’ve all been there. Animals, especially dogs, have a tendency to saunter on over, find that elusive pill, and slurp it on up. Keep your medications out of reach of your pet, in a locked box or closet (or up high in a secure cabinet). When taking your medication, try to take it sitting down, so if you spill or drop a pill it will land on a table or countertop. If that’s too much work, then just make sure you pick up any pill you drop. Nobody’s forcing you to take that dropped pill, but in the name of pet safety, don’t leave it lying around for the furbabies to eat.
Cover the can.
Pets — they’re so much like us, right? Well, no matter how much you buy into that theory, the fact remains that there are all kinds of food that we eat that our pets shouldn’t. Most pets have no shame when it comes to dumpster diving, so you need to make sure you take the extra steps to secure your garbage. Animals have a far more advanced sense of smell than humans do, so don’t think that because you can’t smell it, your pet can’t smell it and won’t try to investigate. You want to avoid short cans that can be jumped on and/or tipped over, and you don’t want a sensor can either, since they will open when your pet walks near them. Go for a sturdy garbage can that isn’t easily tipped over; it will be $50 well spent.
Cover the other can.
Pets like toilets. We all know this. And since most of us are cleaning our toilets with a substantial cleaner, putting the toilet lid down and closing the bathroom door are the two best ways to ensure that your pet isn’t licking a toilet bowl full of chemical residue.
Mind the messes.
Dogs will eat all kinds of things — and I mean eat, not chew. Dogs will eat things like pesticides and laundry detergent, and the ingestion of those things do not make for amusing anecdotes later. Make sure your cleaners, pesticides, detergents, etc. are safely out of reach. Similarly, make sure that items such as kids toys, stockings, jewelry, and underwear are also stored safely away, since these are things that dogs can mistake for toys/treats–these items can become lodged in the animal’s intestines. Jewelry is especially enticing to cats because it’s shiny and small. This works in your favor too — who wants to fish their favorite hoop earring out of the toilet? In college I had to call a plumber out to fix my toilet because it was clogged. He told me I didn’t need to flush Q-tips–well, duh. Turns out my roommate’s cat was sneaking in and batting them off of the counter into the toilet.
See what I mean about these pet safety tweaks? They all seem ridiculously easy, because they are. These things just require a little extra attention, and surely your home and pet(s) are worth that much, right?
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