Animal Proofing Your Home, Room by Room:

Room: Kitchen

Prime potential hazards: Food, cleaning supplies and sharp utensils. Toxic food for pets includes chocolate, avocados, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic and coffee.

Proactive steps:

  • Keep food out of reach and/or covered.
  • Begin composting rather than throwing out food scraps; it’s a safe move for your pet and good for the environment at the same time.
  • Purchase a garbage can with a secure cover so that your pet cannot nudge it open for food; even food packaging can be a choking hazard.
  • Store cleaning supplies in tall cabinets and secure them with childproof latches.

Room: Bathrooms

Prime potential hazards: Medications and water (which pose a drowning hazard). Even vitamins and dental floss can be harmful if a pet swallows them.

Proactive steps:

  • Confine medications to a medicine cabinet or locked cabinet; do not store them on a counter next to the sink.
  • Keep the shower door and toilet lid closed at all times.
  • Reconsider keeping a trash can in the bathroom; it’s a too-easy target.

Room: Living and Family Room

Prime potential hazards: Cords, wires and plants.

Proactive steps:

  • Bundle and conceal cords and wires. A pet who chews on a plugged-in electronic device can be electrocuted.
  • Elevate poisonous plants.
  • Install covers over air vents to reduce the risk of an accident.
  • Be vigilant about small toys and pieces from board games, which could be a choking hazard.
  • Reduce clutter – and reduce the number of chewing opportunities at the same time.

Room: Bedrooms

Prime potential hazards: Medications, wires and cords, jewelry, hair clips and shoes.

Proactive steps:

  • Consider keeping bedroom doors closed when you’re not home to supervise your pet. The number of potential chewing hazards are innumerable, and he or she may feel more adventurous and daring when you’re not around.
  • Keep small objects out of reach, and not just at ground level; pets are happy to leap-frog and jump if they’re in hot pursuit of something that intrigues them.
  • Abstain from using mothballs – or, if you must, keep this toxin safely out of reach.

Room: Basement and Garage

Prime potential hazards: Chemicals (from pesticides and fertilizer) and tools. Even mulch can make a pet ill if he or she consumes it.

Proactive steps:

  • Lock all chemicals in a storage cabinet.
  • Unplug tools and keep large ones (especially saws) covered at all times.
  • Confine small items – nuts, bolts, screws and nails – to storage bins that close.

There may be no such thing as truly “animal proofing” your home but you can eliminate or minimize many hazards by using these proactive steps.