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Families are funny things. They come in many forms — all different shapes and sizes. Different personalities, different generations, different values, different dreams all living together under one roof.
And sometimes, different species too.
A lot of us consider our dogs and cats (and lizards and birds and frogs) to be part of our families, and with good reason. Pets are excellent companions. Anyone who lives with one knows they have their own little personalities and quirks and are fully capable of giving and receiving love in their own ways.
It makes sense, then, that you want to keep your furry friends safe and happy in your home. So let’s explore how to do that, exactly. We’ll give you our expert opinion on how you can best care for your pets and what dangers you should be looking out for.
Pets are a lot like people. They need nutritious food, fresh water, and proper shelter in order to thrive. They also require exercise and stimulation as well as a clean place to use the bathroom regularly. You’ll also want to ensure they’re getting regular check-ups and taking any medications they require.1
Pets are also a lot like people in that each one is unique, and they have very different needs when it comes to things like nutrition, enrichment, security, and safety. When caring for a pet, make sure you’re getting expert, species- and breed-specific advice to make sure your friend is living their best life.
Pro Tip: It’s estimated that 38.4 percent of U.S. households own dogs and 25.4 percent own cats. More specifically, that translates to 76,811,305 dogs and 58,385,725 cats in our homes!2
There are a few universal dangers, though, that you need to be aware of if you’re bringing a new pet into your home, or if you’re worried your home might hold unseen or unknown threats for your current pet. Let’s talk about those now.
Before a baby starts to grow and explore its environment, one of the first things most parents do is baby-proof their home. It’s a good idea to do the same thing when you bring a new pet home, or if you’re looking to better protect the pet you already have.3 Let’s look at some indoor problem areas:
That about covers the major indoor hazards, so let’s move on to the areas outside your home where your pet might find themselves.
Pro Tip: Looking to shore up your home security but worried about your big dog tripping the motion sensor when you’re away? If so, check out our roundup of the best home security systems for pets.
Some folks choose a more laissez-faire approach to pet rearing, allowing them to spend time or live outdoors. Be aware, though, that there are many dangers out there — even in your own backyard.4 These might include:
So that takes care of indoor and outdoor threats. Let’s take a look at one last category that’s a cause for concern among every pet owner.
If you’re a pet owner, you know they love to eat. And by that, we mean eat everything. The bad news is that your pet isn’t going to instinctively know if a particular food is dangerous for them. That’s why you need to prevent them from accessing items that might be delicious for humans, but harmful for them.5 This includes:
Pro Tip: Your dog may love peanut butter, but make sure what you’re feeding him doesn’t contain the sweetener xylitol, as it’s toxic for dogs, even in small amounts.7
Now a lot of these hazards make sense to pet owners, but there are a few threats that you might not even know you were exposing your furry friend to. Let’s cover those next.
No one wants to put their loved one — two-legged or four-legged — in harm's way. But there are a few activities well-meaning pet owners engage in that they might not be aware are dangerous.8 Let’s take a look at those now.
Now a lot of these dangers we’ve laid out can be applied to dogs and cats alike, but let’s break it down even further and talk about each type of animal individually.
Dogs are man’s best friend for a reason. They’re loyal, they’re friendly, and they’re a joy to be around. With that in mind, though, there are several dog-specific household dangers we want to highlight. Some of these were touched on above, but we want to go into more detail here.
That about does it on dog and cat safety, but we have some final thoughts before we go.
Dogs and cats alike are exceptional companions, and we want to do everything we can for our animal friends’ protection. By taking everything in this guide into account, you’re going to be well on your way to creating a safe home for your favorite animals.
With that in mind, though, you can never anticipate every danger, and despite your best efforts, your pet might still run into trouble. If your pet is acting strange or seems off, always seek the guidance of medical professionals.
Chocolate contains two chemicals — caffeine and theobromine — that dogs cannot metabolize well. These substances build up in their bodies and can cause serious health complications.
Dogs are not wild animals; they have been domesticated. This means they are reliant on humans for certain things, one of those being shelter from the elements. Dogs overheat much faster than we do, meaning that if they are going to be outside, they need ample shade and water.
There are many dangers for animals in your home, but be particularly cautious with bathrooms, basements, garbage areas, and places where household cleaners and chemicals are stored.
Yes and no. There are plenty of houseplants that are perfectly safe for pets and just as many that can be harmful or fatal if ingested. Make sure you research any plants you want to have in your home, and make sure they’re safe if your pets can access them.
The Animal Foundation. (2018). The Basic Necessities of Proper Pet Care.
AVMA. (2018). U.S. pet ownership statistics.
Animal Behavior College. (2022). Dangerous Places in Your Home for Pets.
ASPCA. (2022). 8 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Dog Safe Outdoors.
ASPCA. (2022). Household Pet Dangers.
ASPCA. (2022). Poisonous Plants.
VCA. (2022). Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs.
Insider. (2020). Veterinarians share 10 things you should never do to your dog.
Dogs Naturally. (2022). The Dangers Of Mold Exposure In Dogs.
VCA. (2022). Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs.
ASPCA. (2022). Hot Weather Safety Tips.
cathealth.com. (2022). How to Keep Your Cat from Chewing on Houseplants.
Petco. (2022). Protect Your Cat From Common Household Dangers.