If ever there is an opportunity to confirm the validity of Murphy’s Law, it is when a new pet is brought into a home. When an animal – be it a gerbil, a cat, a dog, or whatever – is introduced to a new environment, it will want to become familiar with its surroundings as soon as possible. It is normal and necessary for the animal to investigate everything. There are however, potential hazards in all households that the curious creatures must be protected against. Puppies, kittens, and other small animals are most at risk, but precautions should be taken to insure the safety of even adult cats and dogs.
Pet-proofing a home is much like child-proofing one. Begin by trying to put yourself in your pet’s place. Look around the premises while keeping in mind the animal’s desire to discover and check out all the nooks, crannies, and every object in the house. Keep Murphy’s Law in mind; whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. If the animal can climb, be sure you look up as well as around and down.
The list of possible problems includes, but is not limited to:
- Plastic bags of all kinds – especially those which have contained food; these often attract and then suffocate animals, as can containers where little heads might get stuck.
- Any utensil, string, or container which has food, or even the smell of food on it, is an attraction.
- Cords of every variety; electrical ones can deliver a lethal shock, and all (telephone, drapery, Venetian blinds, appliance, etc.) can strangle an animal.
- Open commodes, mop buckets, bathtubs, swimming and wading pools; many pets drown or are poisoned by chemicals used in the water.
- Any object smaller than the animal’s mouth; paperclips, thumbtacks, rubber bands, needles and thread, buttons, staples, erasers, jewelry, marbles, fish-hooks, etc. to name just a few of these items.
- Heavy objects on the edges of counters, shelves, or tables which can fall or be pulled down by a cord.
- Fireplaces, lighted candles, humidifiers, space hearers, barbecue grills, open ovens, and stovetops; all are trouble spots.
- Open doors on washers, dryers, cabinets, and even refrigerators; all are particularly inviting to cats.
- Unscreened windows and balconies; many pets fall from these and die each year.
Electrical outlets, running appliances, fans motorized tools, and automatic garage doors.
- Poorly made toys which can be torn into pieces, have small parts that come off, or elastic string which breaks off.
- Potential poisons from a variety of sources that abound in a typical house and yard.
With a little common sense and imagination, the problem areas can be identified and corrected. Taking this small amount of trouble ahead of time can prevent a ton of trouble and grief for you and your pet in the future.