If you own a pet, you know how essential it is to learn how to pet proof your apartment.
We love our pets. Our pets love us. Even when the cat looks you right in the eye and knocks that nail polish bottle off of your dresser. Even when your dog chews your brand new shoes. They love us and we love them.
The benefits of having a pet are immeasurable. Pets enhance our lives and it’s been proven that they improve our health. Pets not only boost our mood, but they can also improve our blood pressure and lower our cholesterol. Amazingly, pet owners are less likely to die of any cardiac disease, including heart failure, than those who don’t own a pet.
That’s the upside. There is a price to be paid for every benefit. Pets can be mischievous, curious and downright destructive. It’s not their fault. They are only exploring their environment and perhaps acting out a bit if they feel like their needs aren’t met. It is your job to make sure that the home you share with your fur baby is safe and secure, physically as well as emotionally. Let’s go room by room and take a look at some tips for how to pet proof your apartment.
We can’t be sure what sort of thoughts run through a dog or cat’s brain, but we can be sure that “food” is never far from their minds. Unsecured food is one of the biggest threats to your pet. Not only does it create a mess when they get into it, but seemingly innocuous foods, like grapes, raisins, garlic, onions, and coffee — can be deadly to your doggo. This infographic can help highlight the food that is most dangerous for dogs.
All food should be secured and/or out of reach. You may want to install child-safe latches or locks on any cupboards that contain food, chemicals or cleaning products.
A baby gate can be a great way to keep your pet out of the kitchen when you are cooking, or to keep them in the kitchen when you are not home. If your pup does make a mess, kitchen floors are usually made of tile or laminate so they are easier to clean.
Take a look around your living room. You may want to get down on all fours and see your home from your pet’s perspective. What can your pet reach? There are many common houseplants that are toxic for cats and for dogs. Are there any choking hazards? Small items Fido could chew on? Make sure all electrical cords and chargers are out of reach or protected with a cord cover. A good rule to follow is “if you don’t want it chewed on, don’t leave it out”.
A pet’s urge to chew is a tough habit to break. Rather than try and beat nature, give your pet plenty of chew toys they can sink their teeth into so they don’t take a bite out of your furniture. If chewing becomes a serious (and expensive) problem, there are naturally bitter “no chew sprays” you may want to try.
The bathroom is another minefield of potential trouble for your pet to get into. Make certain that all cleansers, soaps, detergents, medications and even dental floss is safely stored away. Dogs may even try to chew, and even swallow, small towels. Keep toilet lids closed, especially after you’ve cleaned them, to avoid Fido dipping in to quench their thirst.
If you have a cat and a dog — you may sometimes feel like you are attempting to override the natural order of things — you may also have learned that dogs will eat your kitty’s “deposits” right out of the litter box. It’s a good thing pet love is unconditional. Make sure the cat box is physically off limits to the dog.
The bedroom is often the sanctuary of the home. Your sanctuary may contain fewer pet dangers than other rooms, but it’s probably not perfectly safe. A stray sock can be swallowed and lead to gastrointestinal trouble. Make sure all your clothing and laundry is stored away, including your shoes. If you use mothballs in your drawers or closets, know that they are toxic and must never be reachable by your pet. Also keep hair elastics, pins, hair clips, scrunchies and any other small, loose, swallowable objects tucked away and out of sight.
If your dog gets upset when you leave, or you come home to lots of messes and chew damage, your dog may be experiencing separation anxiety. This can cause your dog to bark excessively, which will likely cause anxiety with your neighbours. Your dog isn’t trying to punish you, these behaviours are part of their anxiety and panic response.
To tackle mild separation anxiety don’t make a big deal around your comings and goings. Ignore your pet for the first few minutes before calmly and reassuringly petting them. You may want to establish a signal — a word or action — that you use every time you leave that lets them know you will return.
Your dog should have a designated space that is theirs. It can be a corner of the room where their bed, toys and crate are kept. Try leaving behind some recently worn item of clothing (one that is too big to chew and swallow) that has your scent on it. There are even calming sprays for dogs and cats that can help alleviate anxiety.
When all else fails
Accept that even if you do everything you can, things can still go wrong. It doesn’t make you a bad pet parent. What makes you a good pet parent is keeping the number of your vet, as well as any nearby 24-hour emergency animal hospital, on speed dial.
We hope these tips for how to pet proof your apartment help to make your life with your pet as perfect as it can be.