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Pet safety guide: Watch out for these common house hazards

It never hurts to be proactive and vigilant -- especially when it comes to your furry companion.

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Soju plotting her next dangerous adventure. 

Macy Meyer/CNET

I adopted my cat, Soju, during the pandemic -- and I've already started to feel apprehensive about leaving her as I head back to the office. It's understandable: We've spent almost 24 hours per day together for over a year.

People have adopted a record number of pets since the pandemic began, and as pandemic restrictions start to loosen across the country, new pet owners are leaving their furry family members at home for most of the day for what is likely the first time. This transition will certainly be an adjustment for both pet and parent, and worrying about the well-being of your dogs or cats is natural. With these handy tips and safety measures, we can all head back to our favorite out-of-house locations with confidence. 

Common house hazards 

From foods that can make your pet sick to dangerous plants, your house is packed with potential hazards. Following these safety checklists will make each and every room safe and secure.

Kitchen:

  • Keep cleaners, chemicals and detergents on high shelves or in cabinets locked with a child lock.
  • Don't leave any heavy cookware or sharp utensils on the counter to avoid having it fall on your pet or cutting its paw.
  • Keep all food enclosed and away. While most human foods are perfectly safe for pets, chocolate, avocado, tomatoes and other tasty snacks can be harmful to your dog or cat. Wrap up food after eating and consider keeping your produce in a cabinet. 
  • Keep trash bins locked or secure in a cabinet. We've all seen the movies (looking at you, Marley and Me) when the dog goes on a rampage through the trash. And while it makes for an entertaining film scene, it can be a nightmare to clean up in reality. 

Read more: Here's how much it costs to own a dog or cat in 2021

Living room and bedroom:

  • Keep all dangling wires from lamps, TVs, stereos and phones out of reach. Put laptop and phone charging cords in a drawer. Cats especially have a knack for turning any household item into their new favorite toy. 
  • Put away kids' toys and other small objects. Again, your pet will likely lose interest in the toys you actually bought for them at the store to opt for your jewelry and socks (and anything else they decide is theirs for the taking), so be mindful of what you're leaving around to avoid a mess or choking-hazard. 
  • Move house plants and flowers out of reach. While house plants can add some much-needed greenery and color to a room, they may be poisonous to your cat or dog if eaten. Make sure you research pet-safe flora like spider plants and orchids to prevent your pet from eating toxic plants. 
  • Latch the doors to your washer and dryer
  • Make sure all heating or air vents have secured covers. 
  • Check that you don't close your pet -- especially notoriously elusive cats -- inside closets or cabinets. I know it might sound improbable, but I once spent close to an hour running around my 800-square-foot apartment trying to find my cat... only to find her napping inside one of my kitchen cabinets. 

Read more: The best pet insurance for 2021

Bathroom:

  • Keep the toilet lid closed to prevent your pet from drinking from or taking an unwanted dive in the basin. 
  • Keep medications, cleaning supplies, cosmetics and other products in a drawer or cabinet that can't easily be nudged open.  
  • Keep all hair bands and pins secured. While your cat might love playing with a spare hair tie (I know mine does) and it's always hard to ruin the fun when you eventually take away the newfound toy, the vet fees will be even less fun if your pet swallows something they shouldn't.

Although many of these hazards may seem relatively low-risk, it never hurts to be proactive and vigilant -- especially when it comes to your companion. 

The bottom line

Nothing makes pet owners more assured than knowing their pet is safe and happy no matter how far away. These home safety tips and measures meant specifically for your dog or cat will help them stay healthy and will help you feel secure enough to leave for work again with confidence. Whether you're already going back to work or just planning ahead, your pet will no doubt appreciate these safety precautions. And remember, whenever you leave and wherever you go, your pet will miss you, too. 

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