How to Make Your Apartment Safe for Your Pet

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How to Make Your Apartment Safe for Your Pet

aptsherpa · Aug 9, 2006

kitty in apartment

Pets are people too—well, maybe not, but they’re still important parts of your life. And since they’re not people, they have a hard time watching out for themselves. This means you have to do some work in order to protect your pets from potential dangers. Here’s a list of possible dangers lurking in your apartment, and steps you can take to protect your pets from them.

Danger: Poisoning

So many things lying around your house could be dangerous to your pets. In fact, many seemingly harmless substances can be dangerous for animals. Let’s look at just a few:

Foods that Poison Pets

Ever wonder why people restrict the human food they give their pets? Well, these ones are important to note, as they can be seriously harmful.

Chocolate is notoriously toxic to dogs (and cats), so prevent pets from having access to the stuff. The substance that makes chocolate dangerous is theobromine. Because animals cannot metabolize this chemical as well as humans can, it’s not safe for them to consume it. Onions, garlic, and avocado can also be harmful to animals due to a chemical called sodium thiosulphate, so keep these items safe in high, hard-to-reach cupboards or carefully sealed in plastic containers. Apricots, apples, and almonds have seeds (nuts) that are dangerous for animals, and some varieties of mushrooms can be toxic to animals—so it’s a good idea to avoid feeding them to your pets at all.

In general, it’s a good idea to avoid giving your animal any “people food”; if you feel you must give treats, check with your vet to make sure the types of items you toss to Fido won’t cause him any damage. Also note that tobacco is dangerous for animals, so keep your cigarettes or other tobacco products inaccessible to animals.

Household Products

In addition to food items, many other ingestible substances can harmful to animals, including medicines and some common household items. Both human and pet medications should be kept out of reach of animals and children.

Antifreeze is a particularly dangerous household item because its sweet taste encourages animals to drink it, but the substance itself is highly toxic. Household cleaners are often harmful if ingested (both to humans and animals), so you should always make sure items of this nature are carefully locked up, and take care to keep pets out of the way when cleaning (keeping them out of the way will help you clean more efficiently, too). Be especially careful with scented cleaners, since a sweet smell could entice your pet to drink the substance.

Baits or sprays for pests like rodents and insects are harmful to pets. Since baits or traps are made to be attractive to the pests they’re meant to kill, they may be tempting to your pets as well, so you’ll want to avoid using them in areas your pets can access. Refraining from using baits at all may be your safest bet. If you use sprays, keep your animals away from the area you spray, if possible. In addition, invest in a “locking” plastic trunk in which to store your household cleaning items and insecticides; even if your pets manage to open the cabinet where this trunk is stored, they shouldn’t be able to get inside and expose themselves to danger.

Plants

There are too many plants potentially toxic to animals to list them all here, but check out these major offenders, do research online, and/or ask your vet about plants that should concern you. Calla lilies, English ivy, azaleas, poinsettia, tulips, amaryllis, and philodendrons are some common indoor ornamental plants that are harmful to pets if ingested. It’s best to avoid having plants of this type in your home at all; if you just can’t live without them, hang them up high where your pet can’t reach and ensure that the leaves don’t fall to the ground. Better yet, keep these plants outside on your balcony and prevent your pet from going on the balcony at all.

Commons Signs of Pet Poisoning

Signs of poisoning can include muscle tremors, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation (drooling or foaming), change in mood (animal appears unusually depressed or excitable), bleeding, swelling, ulceration, blisters, pawing at the mouth, unusual licking, or change in body temperature. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect poisoning, and be prepared to disclose information about what substance your pet may have ingested.

If you’re not sure whether your pet has been poisoned or is just acting strangely, contact your vet anyway—better safe than sorry.

Danger: Choking

dog eating off chicken bone

Although bones are often given to animals, particularly dogs, to gnaw on, chicken bones can fracture and cause choking in animals. Give your animal rawhide bones to ensure safe tooth and jaw development and exercise.

String and ribbons may be useful, but they can also be dangerous for animals, who may accidentally ingest them while playing. If you tease your cat with string, make sure to take it away and store it in a safe place when finished. If wrapping presents at Christmas time or creating a big stack of gifts for a birthday party, do so in an area not accessible to your pets.

Be aware that string-like items such as dental floss or yarn can also be dangerous if ingested. It may be wise to invest in covered trash cans for all rooms where pets may wander, and keep your knitting or crocheting projects in a closed bag.

All in all, poisoning and choking can pose serious dangers to your pet. As long as you keep potentially dangerous items properly concealed and enclosed you and your pet should be well on your way to a safe and happy apartment living experience.

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