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Pet Proofing for the First-Time Pet Owner

If you’re planning to adopt your first kitten or puppy, you likely have many questions regarding pet-proofing your home. In addition to the training, love, and attention your pet will definitely need, creating a safe home environment is important – both for the safety of your new furry friend and all of the beloved items in your home. Today, we’re sharing a comprehensive guide to pet-proofing for the first-time pet owner.

1.) Create a Safe Space

When your pet first arrives home, they will likely feel stressed and overwhelmed by the sudden change of environment. This rule is doubly true for a pet that has been through any sort of trauma prior to adoption. To help them settle in, arrange a secluded, safe space within a bathroom, laundry room, or small bedroom. Keep noise and foot traffic to a minimum during the first few days, and make sure to avoid leaving your pet in a carpeted area. Assuming there will be accidents (there almost always are!) keeping your new pet on floors that are simple to clean and sanitize will minimize the damage.

2.) Crate or Cage Train Your Companion

To provide your pet with a safe space on a permanent basis, we recommend crate training a puppy. Cats can be provided with a large kennel-type cage. Keep comfort at the forefront of your mind; you want your pet to enjoy their safe space. Provide puppies with a cushy bed and beloved toy, and make sure they have enough room to stand up and turn around comfortably. Cats tend to love high retreats, toys, and enclosed boxes within their spacious cages.

3.) Pet-Proof Windows and Balconies

Every year, cats and dogs suffer tragic falls from high windows and balconies. Either ensure your pet cannot reach any windows or balconies or install pet-proof screens to guarantee that they are always safe.

4.) Optimize Your Home Organization

One of the easiest ways to pet-proof your home is to spend a few weeks simplifying your possessions and getting organized. Knick-knacks should be donated or stored, cables should be kept off the floor, and all clothing should be safely put away – out of reach.

5.) Choose Secure Hampers and Garbage Cans

Your puppy or kitten must be kept out of your laundry and the garbage. However, many pets will work hard to access these forbidden zones! To make your life easier, invest in locking hampers and garbage cans that your pet cannot access.

6.) Lock Up Cleaners and Chemicals

Common household cleaners and chemical compounds (like herbicides and antifreeze) are highly dangerous to your pet. Make sure to place them in locked cabinets, or in a free-standing locker.

Alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis, chocolate, coffee, and supplements are all highly dangerous to pets and must be kept out of reach at all times.

7.) Research Pet-Safe Foods

While it’s true that many pet owners never feed their dog or cat anything but commercial pet food, others enjoy supplementing this staple diet with a selection of healthy foods. If you plan to take the latter approach, take the time to research every type of food you want to feed before you offer anything to your pet.

There are some surprisingly deadly foods in most homes. For example, dogs can suffer lethal complications if they ingest grapes or raisins.

8.) Research Your House Plants

Many popular houseplants are harmful or lethal to cats and dogs. Before you bring your new pet home, ensure that your houseplants are safe for your furry friend. If they aren’t, consider gifting them to a friend or loved one and replacing them with pet-safe selections.

9.) Think Like Your Pet

Get down to your pet’s eye level and imagine the world as your pet will view it. Are there any dangers or temptations from this perspective? If so, take the time to remedy them ahead of time. Cover outlets, raise belongings off the floor, temporarily remove long curtains, and protect your furniture from sharp little claws and teeth.

10.) Restrict Garage and Outdoor Access

While cats should be kept indoors, some cat owners do like to let their felines out onto enclosed porches. If this will be your approach, make sure there’s no way for your cat to get loose. If your dog will have backyard access, ensure that you’re there to supervise until you understand your dog’s behavior, and do your best to puppy-proof gates and fences now. 

Neither dogs nor cats should be permitted to spend time in garages due to the multiple safety concerns that exist there.

11.) Be a Cautious Crafter

Yarn, thread, string, needles, nails, wood shavings, glue, and paint are all highly dangerous to your pets. Keep a close eye on your pet while you’re crafting, clean up after yourself, and keep your crafting supplies locked away where your pet can’t access them.

We want you to have many wonderful years with your new pet, and we hope this list has been helpful. If you are an experienced pet owner, and you remember the early days of danger avoidance, we would love to hear from you in the comments below. Please leave your recommendations, tips, and encouragement for Middle Tennessee’s newest pet owners!

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