By Teresa Traverse
You and your pets spend the majority of your time at home. And although your house might be comfortable and well decorated, there are likely dangers—ranging from accessible poisons to exposed electrical cords— lurking for dogs and cats. We reached out to some top pet safety experts for simple solutions. From carpeting the stairs to using childproof locks, here are nine home hacks that will make your home a safer place for your pet.
Any dog parent knows that knocking over a water bowl or having your dogs spill water all over the floor is one of the most common annoyances of dog ownership. But slippery, wet floors could cause injury to both pets and humans.
To combat this, try placing the dog bowl in a larger plastic container to catch what might spill over, suggests Penny Layne, national certified professional dog trainer and a pet safety expert based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Boot trays with raised edges or storage containers with low sides can also contain the mess.
Purses and bags often contain items that can be dangerous to dogs, such as sugar-free gum or personal medications. Purses left on the floor or furniture may be an easy target for curious dogs. The solution? Hang hooks so you can keep your purses and belongings out of your dog’s reach.
“You shouldn’t have to worry about what’s in your purse,” says Melanie Monteiro, a dog safety and lifestyle expert and author of “The Safe Dog Handbook.”
One of the more dangerous household items pets can get into? Cords and wires. To prevent your pet from chewing or even tripping over these, gather the cords together with a cord protector or consider bundling the cords and placing them inside PVC pipe, says Layne, who uses this method in her own home.
To prevent your pet from opening cabinets containing potentially dangerous cleaning supplies, food, or medicine, try adding child-proof locks in the kitchen and bathroom, advises Layne. She explains that most locks are designed so pets cannot press a button necessary to open the door. And several of these child-proof lock options fit inside doors and aren’t visible from the outside.
As the temperatures rise during the summer, you’ll want to ensure your dog has a cool place to rest on your deck so he or she doesn’t overheat or burn his or her paws on the hot wood.
“Make a little Shangri-La out there,” says Monteiro.
She recommends setting up umbrellas, yoga mats or even a regular mat to provide your dog with a cool chill-out spot and a path into and out of your home.
If you allow your dog up on a couch or bed, consider adding a small set of dog steps to help your furry friend get to the top.
“If you have a higher bed, you definitely want to have pet steps and teach your dog to use them using treats,” says Monteiro. Without stairs, pets may struggle to reach their favorite resting place and injure themselves when they are forced to jump off.
If you have a bed that sits low to the ground and the bed is on a slick floor surface, Monteiro recommends using a bath mat or rug so your dog is less likely to slip when jumping on or off the furniture.
Dog gates are useful tools for many pet owners. Monteiro suggests placing them in front of the staircase to prevent your dog from accidentally tumbling the stairs. This is particularly important if your pet has a neurologic or musculoskeletal problem that affects his or her mobility.
Layne also advises using gates to keep your dog away from the front door so he or she won’t escape when you’re greeting guests. Likewise, you can always use them if you need your dog to stay out of a certain area of the house.
If your home has slick wood stairs, consider carpeting the steps to make it easier for your dog to get up and down.
“Carpeting the steps is a really great thing,” says Monteiro. “It’s not practical for a lot of people to do a full carpet runner, but there are definitely less expensive things you can do.”
She recommends the following if a full carpet runner isn’t in the budget: no-slip strips, stair treads, or even just buying carpet squares and using double-sided carpet tape to lay them down. Anything that can be securely attached to the stairs, doesn’t present a tripping hazard, and makes the floor surface less slick will do.