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Why it's important to pet-proof your home

Before bringing a pet home, take some safety measures to prevent accidents and provide a secure living space

Kittens, driven by their natural inclination to scratch and play, benefit from toys and scratching posts.
Kittens, driven by their natural inclination to scratch and play, benefit from toys and scratching posts. (iStockphoto)

Musafir, my golden retriever, was four months old when we brought him home. Within a week, while I was having breakfast, he wandered into the kitchen and came out with a knife in his mouth. My heart skipped a beat. As a veterinarian, my immediate response was to assess potential risks and scenarios. Thankfully, Musafir didn’t sustain any injuries, but the incident prompted me to recognise the importance of pet-proofing my home. Since then, I have taken measures to remove potential hazards. This experience underscores the need for proactive pet-proofing to prevent accidents and provide a secure living space for our furry companions.

Puppies and kittens, being naturally curious, may chew on items, potentially leading to injuries. That’s why it’s crucial to pet-proof your home before adopting them. Pets may not grasp the value of your possessions, so pet-proofing also entails securing items like shoes, clothing and household plants that could be enticing or pose a threat.

Identify and eliminate obvious hazards within reach. Clear the area of small objects or household items that could be chewed or swallowed. If you have a particularly food-motivated puppy, make sure your trash cans have secure, tight-fitting lids to prevent them from exploring the contents. Puppies have a penchant for chewing, and electrical cords can be attractive targets. Utilise cord organisers or protective coverings to safeguard cords. To minimise the risk of electrical shocks, install outlet covers.

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Securely store common household items that are toxic to pets, such as cleaning supplies, medications, and certain foods. Exercise caution with human foods, including chocolate, onions, and grapes, which can be harmful to them. Identify and remove plants that could pose a threat to your pet. Opt for safe alternatives or place plants out of reach to discourage nibbling.

Kittens, known for their exploration skills, may venture into small spaces with potential risks. Block access to vents or other areas where your kitten might become stuck or encounter hazards. Ensure toilet lids are closed to prevent curious kittens from falling in. Secure bathroom cabinets containing toiletries and medication.

Cats enjoy perching on windowsills, but it’s crucial to guarantee their safety. Consider the installation of window screens or mesh nets to prevent accidental falls. If you have a balcony or an outdoor space, check for gaps or openings that could lead to slips, and supervise outdoor playtime.

Conduct a thorough inspection of your backyard for potential escape routes or hazardous materials. Ensure that the fencing is secure and tall enough to discourage your puppy from attempting to jump over it.

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Create a dedicated area for your puppy or kitten. For puppies, a cosy and secure space like a crate or a gated room works well. This designated space fosters a sense of security and prevents them from venturing into potentially risky areas. For kittens, ensure the area is calm and provide a comfortable bed, water bowl and toys to keep them entertained.

Offer your puppy an array of durable and safe chew toys to shift their chewing behaviour away from furniture and personal items. Ensure the toy is larger than your puppy’s head and lacks any detachable parts that could be swallowed. Kittens, driven by their natural inclination to scratch and play, benefit from toys and scratching posts. These items satisfy their instincts and redirect their energy away from household furniture.

Pet-proofing also plays a crucial role in behavioural training. It establishes clear boundaries for pets, redirecting their focus toward appropriate toys, scratching posts or designated play areas. A pet-proofed home fosters a stress-free environment for both pets and owners.

Nameeta Nadkarni is a practising veterinary soft tissue surgeon and pet blogger from Mumbai.

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