Keep pets safe from household dangers

Keep pets safe from household dangers

Most responsible pet owners are aware that we need to keep our dogs and cats away from certain dangers in our home. We know to keep them from chewing on electrical cords, drinking toilet water that contains self-cleaning chemicals, staying away from antifreeze and other chemicals, and staying out of the recliner. But our homes also present many other dangers to our feline and canine companions that we must consider and take steps to avoid poisoning or accidental injury, possibly even death.

paper shredders

Most paper shredders have an on/off switch and auto feed buttons. Motors can get hot with use and cats are known to love warm places and will walk on anything. It offers the cat a cozy place to sleep, and its fur may get caught in the crushed teeth. Cases of dogs getting their tongues stuck in the shredder have also been reported. Turn off your shredder when not in use and never leave the auto feed button on. Better yet, unplug the shredder until you need it.

Sand for cats

Avoid clumping cat litter, especially with kittens. The kittens have died after licking this litter off their paws. It will swell in your intestine, causing a blockage. Deodorized cat litters are chemically based. If your dog has the unfortunate habit of eating in the cat’s box, the litter can poison him. Stick with basic clay litters.

Washing machines and drying machines

Cats and kittens love warm, enclosed places. Keep the lid of your washing machine closed when not in use and make sure the kittens aren’t curled up in the laundry basket before adding the load. When loading the dryer, keep an eye out that Fluffy doesn’t decide to jump in and get comfortable.


Pets can get caught in wheel spokes whether the chairs are in use or not. Store wheelchairs in a room or closet away from pets when not in use.

wire boxes

Tags and collars can get caught on the bars. Make sure the flooring fits properly and covers the bottom of the wire bars. The pet must have a well-fitting collar and the tags must not dangle too much. If the pet will be left alone in the crate, remove the collar when you leave and put it back on immediately when you let it out. Do not place the collar on top of the box where it can be reached and chewed on.

Power strips and sockets

Put safety covers on any open exits to prevent your pet from licking the exit or driving a nail into it.

homemade plasticine

Children love play dough and the pieces can fall off the table onto the floor. Homemade play dough is high in salt and can cause salt poisoning in pets, which can be fatal.

Cigarettes and Tobacco Products

Nicotine can be fatal to dogs. Keep all cigarettes, pipes and tobacco, chewing tobacco, and all other tobacco products out of the reach of pets. Empty ashtrays frequently.

plastic food wrap

Pets can ingest pieces of plastic wrap when licking up food residue, and the pieces can cause choking or intestinal obstruction.

floor vents

Your pet’s tags or paws can get caught in the vents and pin them to the hot surface. Cover all vents by wrapping layers of netting and pushing the vent firmly against the floor. They can still catch a nail, but the netting will help protect them from burning their feet.


Dogs love to chew rawhide, but small pieces can break off and lodge in the throat, causing the animal to choke or create a blockage in the stomach or intestines. Rawhide chews can also harbor salmonella, infecting the dog and family members, and some unregulated manufacturers may use toxic chemicals in the production of rawhide treats.


Even if you don’t use continuous cleaning products on your toilet, keep the lid closed or the bathroom door closed. Small and curious pets can fall head over heels.

Christmas ornaments

They may look like toys for your pet. Broken glass shards can cut your pet’s legs, and any decorations can cause a life-threatening emergency if the shards are eaten. Tinsel and ribbon are cat magnets and can cause intestinal blockages if your cat ingests them.

Swimming pools

Do not allow your dog to access the pools without supervision. Most dogs cannot climb stairs. Put steps in your pool and teach your dog how to get out.


Cats especially (and some dogs) may find liquid potpourri tasty, but it’s caustic and will burn their esophageal linings or even poison them.


Heavy doors can quickly close on a puppy or small cat and crush them, or insult the paws or tail of larger dogs.

trash cans

Dogs love to rummage through the trash can, but there’s plenty of kitchen and household waste that can hurt your dog or make him sick, even poison him. The seeds and pits of apples, apricots, cherries, and plums contain a chemical that can cause cyanide poisoning. Onions and garlic can cause anemia in dogs. Coffee grounds and tea bags contain caffeine and tannin, which are toxic to dogs. Cats love string, rubber bands, ribbons, and threads, which can cause intestinal blockages if swallowed. Soda bottle caps and bread labels are choking hazards. The edges of food cans and lids that are removed with a can opener can severely cut their tongues if they try to lick the rest of the food off, or cut their feet if they step on them. Keep the trash can covered with a tight-fitting lid or store it under a counter with a child-safe latch (clever pets can open doors that don’t latch!).


Your children’s plastic toys that have small parts that can be removed and stuffed toys with eyes that can be chewed on are also potential choking hazards for your pet. When buying toys for your pet, make sure they are well made and do not have parts that cannot break off. When toys start to wear or get chewed up, or the stuffing starts to come out, throw them away and replace them.

Avoid tragedy by pet-proofing your home. Treat your dog or cat like a curious child, ready to get into everything. Take steps to protect them from their own inquisitive nature and have pet-safe toys they can play with to keep them entertained and out of mischief.

Copyright © 2007, Ian White Access 2000 Pty Ltd

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