Pet Proofing Your Home

Make sure your home has been adequately pet-proofed. Providing a safe, pet-friendly environment for your new cat or dog is the first step to being a responsible pet-owner of a safe and happy animal.

Are you ready to bring home a new furry friend from the animal shelter? Before you do, make sure your home is pet-proofed for their safety and happiness. From toxic plants to sharp objects, there are many hazards to watch out for.

Bonus: pet-proofing also leads to a tidier home! With this guide, you can ensure your pet’s safety and enjoy their company with peace of mind.

We break it all down in these sections:


Protect Your Pet by Pet-Proofing Your Bedrooms

Does your furry friend wander around your home freely? If so, you should consider pet-proofing your rooms including the bedrooms.

Be mindful of potential hazards and keep your pet safe with these tips:

Close Doors & Drawers – Store clothes and accessories behind closed doors or in a dresser to prevent choking hazards. Protect your pet from toxic substances like medicines, cosmetics, and lotions by storing them out of reach.

Cords – Keep electrical cords or wires out of reach to avoid your pets chewing on them.

“Swallowable” Items – Small items such as jewelry and hair ties can be dangerous if swallowed, so keep them away from your pets.

Mothballs – Be extra careful if you use mothballs in your closets or dresser drawers since these can be toxic and can endanger your pet’s health.

Take the necessary precautions to keep your pet protected, even when they are exploring your bedrooms.

Living Room

Some items in your living room or family room can be a danger to your pets.

Welcome to your pet-friendly living room! Just keep in mind that a few common household items can pose a danger to your furry friends.

Here are some tips to make sure your pets stay safe and relaxed in the living space you share.

Cords – Firstly, keep cords out of reach to avoid any electrical shock hazards. Secure heating/air vent grates too, to prevent injuries.

Plants – Plants can brighten up a space, but they could also be toxic for your pet. Consider opting for some pet-friendly houseplant options, or place them high up out of reach.

See our list of hazardous plants below.

Small Things – Clear away any small, breakable items your pet could easily knock over. Toys with small pieces should also be put away to avoid choking hazards.

Be sure to check for any dangerous items that the vacuum cleaner can’t reach. Clean up any potential hazards that may have fallen behind furniture or into crevices.

Fireplace – Fireplaces are cozy, but they can be dangerous for pets. Consider adding a simple screen to ensure their safety.

Fire-starter sticks are another commonly overlooked danger. Keep them far away from your pets.

Screens – And lastly, make sure to secure your screens if you open your windows or doors. Letting in fresh air is great, just not at the expense of your pet’s safety.

Bathroom & Laundry Room

Keep medications stored in a high cabinet

While it may be tempting to completely close off these areas, they can also provide a safe haven for your furry friend during times of stress.

Cleaning Supplies – Be sure to take the necessary steps to pet-proof these spaces, including safely storing away cleaning supplies, detergents, medications, and other potential hazards. Even simple everyday items like dental floss and small products can be choking hazards for pets.

Clothing – Dogs are especially prone to chewing on old shoes, socks, towels, and fabrics, which can cause serious gastrointestinal problems if swallowed.

Toilets – t’s also important to keep the lids of toilets closed, as chemical cleansers and standing water in sinks and bathtubs can be dangerous for pets.

Washer & Dryer – To prevent your cat from getting trapped in the washer or dryer while you’re doing laundry, always keep the doors to these appliances shut.

Cabinets – Finally, be sure to put child-safety locks on all cabinets your pet may try to open. By taking these precautions, you can help keep your pet safe and happy in your home.


Pets should be kept out of refrigerators and pantries to prevent exposure to dangerous foods

Beware! Your kitchen could be a potential danger zone for your furry friend who loves to spend time there. Unfortunately, food is the primary culprit for causing illness and sometimes even death among pets.

To ensure the safety of your beloved companion, keep a watchful eye and make sure harmful foods are out of reach.

List of Foods to Keep from Pets

If you suspect that your pet has consumed any of the following foods, it is crucial to contact your veterinarian immediately and provide them with information regarding the quantity ingested. It’s a good practice to keep the contact details of your regular veterinarian and an emergency 24-hour vet readily available.

Alcohol – Under no circumstances should you give alcohol to your pet. Alcoholic beverages or food containing alcohol can lead to various health issues, including diarrhea, vomiting, central nervous system depression, tremors, breathing difficulties, coordination problems, and abnormal blood activity. In severe cases, alcohol can cause coma or death.

Avocado – While avocados are generally safe for dogs and cats, it is best to avoid serving them freshly sliced avocados. Avocado consumption poses cardiovascular risks for birds, which can result in fatality. It can also cause swelling in the head and neck of horses, goats, and other ruminants. Moreover, the large seed of avocados poses a danger to pets. It is advisable to refrain from giving avocados to your pets altogether.

Caffeine and Chocolate – Foods and beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee and chocolate, contain methylxanthine. This substance, found in cacao seeds used to make chocolate and nut extracts used in some sodas, can be toxic to pets. Ingesting methylxanthines may cause vomiting, panting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, excessive thirst and urination, tremors, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, or even death.

It’s important to note that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is more hazardous than milk chocolate. Baking chocolate contains the highest levels of methylxanthines, while white chocolate has the lowest levels.

Citrus – Citrus fruits, in various amounts, contain citric acid. Small doses are unlikely to cause more than minor stomach upset in pets. However, larger quantities can lead to irritation and potential central nervous system depression. It is best to avoid giving any form of citrus to your dogs or cats.

Coconut & Coconut Oil – The milk and flesh of coconuts contain oils that may upset your pet’s stomach, resulting in diarrhea or loose stools. In small amounts, coconut is generally not highly hazardous. However, caution should be exercised when offering these products to your pets. It is important to note that coconut water, due to its high potassium content, should not be given to pets.

Grapes & Raisins – The toxic substances in grapes and raisins are not well understood, but they can cause kidney failure in pets. Ensure that these fruits are stored out of your pet’s reach.

Macadamia Nuts – Macadamia nuts can induce depression, weakness, tremors, hyperthermia, and vomiting in pets. Symptoms typically last one to two days and manifest within twelve hours of ingestion.

Milk and Dairy – Contrary to popular belief, dogs and cats should not consume milk or dairy products. While cats may have a particular affinity for milk, their bodies lack significant amounts of lactase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose in milk. Ingesting milk or dairy products can result in diarrhea and other digestive issues for your pets.

Nuts – All nuts, including macadamia nuts, should be avoided in your pet’s diet. Walnuts, almonds, and pecans, in particular, contain high levels of fats and oils, which can lead to diarrhea and vomiting. In some cases, they can even cause pancreatitis.

Chives, Onions, and Garlic – These herbs and vegetables can cause gastrointestinal problems and damage red blood cells in pets. Cats are more susceptible to complications from these products, but dogs can also experience issues if they consume a large enough quantity.

Undercooked/Raw Meat, Bones, and Eggs – Raw eggs and meat may contain harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, which can be detrimental to pets. Additionally, raw eggs contain avidin, an enzyme that hinders biotin absorption, potentially causing skin and coat problems. While it might seem natural to give leftover bones to pets, they can pose choking hazards or lead to injuries if the bones splinter.

Salty Foods – Large amounts of salt can result in excessive thirst, urination, and sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs of excessive salt consumption include vomiting, depression, tremors, diarrhea, seizures, elevated body temperature, and, in severe cases, death. Keep all salty snacks like pretzels, popcorn, and potato chips out of your pet’s reach.

Xylitol – Xylitol, a sweetener found in various products like candy, gum, and toothpaste, can induce insulin release, potentially causing liver failure in pets. Early signs of xylitol toxicity include lethargy, vomiting, loss of coordination, and it can progress to seizures and liver failure within a few days.

Yeast Dough – Dough containing yeast expands in the digestive system, leading to gas accumulation and bloating in pets. This can cause severe discomfort and, in some cases, a twisted stomach, which may be fatal for your pet.

While food poses the most significant kitchen-related hazard for pets, it’s important to store dangerous foods where your pets cannot access them. Additionally, be mindful of sharp utensils, cleaning supplies, and small choking hazards like twist ties.


Protect Your Pet from Outdoor Hazards

Your garage, basement, porch, and backyard can each pose a number of hidden dangers to your furry friend. Luckily, there are simple steps you can take to keep them safe.


Regularly clean your garage floor to ensure chemicals and other hazards are not accessible to your pet. Some chemicals can be deadly.

Store chemicals, tools, and sharp objects in closets, sealed containers, or high shelves where your pet cannot access them.


Keep your garden safe for pets by checking the toxicity level of plants. Some plants can be poisonous to animals, even deadly.

Plants That Can Harm Pets

  • Autumn Crocus
  • Azalea
  • Cyclamen
  • Kalanchoe
  • Lily
  • Oleander
  • Daffodils
  • Aloe Vera
  • Baby’s Breath
  • Amaryllis
  • Begonia
  • Carnation
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Gladeola
  • Milkweed
  • Poinsettia
  • Tulip
  • Morning Glory


Check your fence for any holes or spaces your dog or cat might be able to fit through. Patch these areas immediately to prevent an escape.

Ensure that lattice work around your porch is intact and in good shape so that pets won’t get stuck or crawl into an area where they shouldn’t be.


Before starting your car, bang on the hood and check the wheel wells to ensure your kitten or neighborhood cat has not curled up inside for a warm nap.


Don’t assume that pets that can swim won’t drown in a hot tub or pool. Keep them separated from these areas with covers or fencing.

By taking these simple, preventive measures, you can help keep your pets healthy, safe, and free from harm.

Emergencies & Disasters

Don’t Leave Your Furry Family Behind

Natural disasters can happen anywhere and it’s crucial to have a safety plan for you and your pets. Never leave your pets behind in an emergency evacuation as they could get lost, hurt, or even worse.

Rescue Stickers – Prepare a rescue alert sticker that indicates the number and types of pets in your home and place them on all doors. If you are able to evacuate with your pets, be sure to indicate that on the sticker. You can buy a safety pack from the ASPCA.

Away From Home – If you’re away from home when disaster strikes, inform someone that your pet is at home and needs to be taken to safety. Make prior arrangements by finding hotels that allow pets, making a list of animal shelters, boarding facilities, friends, or family who can take care of your pet in an emergency.

Conduct evacuation drills for your family, including your pets, to get them used to the routine.

Emergency Kits – Prepare an emergency kit with pet essentials such as their medication, food, collar, leash, medical records, and current photos. Make sure your pets have all their vaccinations, a microchip, and up-to-date identification on their collars.

Remember, pet safety during a natural disaster is essential. Don’t leave your furry family behind and evacuate as early as possible to reduce the risk of stress and ensure the whole evacuation process is carried out safely and calmly.

Other Animals

Don’t forget about other pets in emergency situations! Here’s how to keep horses, birds, reptiles, and small animals safe.


  • Keep stables and pastures clean and free from hazardous materials
  • Enforce no smoking and avoid using machinery in barns
  • Practice loading your horse into a trailer quickly and inspect the trailer’s condition
  • Familiarize your horse with strangers and emergency responders


  • Always transport birds in a carrier and moisten their feathers in warm weather
  • Keep leg bands on at all times for identification purposes
  • Use a timed feeder to maintain regular feeding schedules
  • Keep recent photos of your bird and a blanket over the carrier in colder weather


  • Transport snakes in a pillowcase and ensure they’re properly secured
  • Bring a bowl for soaking and a heating pad or hot water bottle
  • Treat lizards like birds for transportation purposes

Small animals:

  • Transport in secure carriers with bedding and food bowls
  • Bring extra water, salt lick, and bedding for a week

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