The year-end holiday whirlwind is finally over, and life can get back to normal. But let’s reflect for a moment. A lot of pet parents discover too late that the additional chaos and trappings of the holidays cause their beloved and otherwise-model-citizen pets to veer out of control. Tearing into ribbon and wrapping paper makes a big mess. But did you know these things can be dangerous, too?
From candy to candles, the holidays can pose all sorts of threats to pets. However, pet-proofing your flat isn’t something you should think about only during the holidays.
You were thrilled to find lovely, pet-friendly housing in London, but that doesn’t mean the interior of your flat is automatically safe for your precious four-legged companion. And if you acquired a new puppy or kitten over the holidays, now is definitely the time to make your home the safest, most welcoming haven for them.
What should you do?
American Humane offers a room-by-room checklist you can use to pet-proof your home, and we’re pretty sure the RSPCA would concur on their recommendations. Here are some highlights:
- Think Small
If your furry companion is, indeed, very small, the first thing you’ll want to do is inspect every square inch of your flat looking for tiny spaces your little explorer might get stuck in. Kittens, in particular, can fit into amazingly tight spaces. So look for holes (including heating vents) and spaces behind appliances, and so on, then plug them.
- Consider Chewables
Curiosity isn’t only for cats, of course, so chewing is also a concern. Puppies and kittens are notorious chewers, but adult dogs and cats investigate with their mouths, too. (Some also chew due to boredom or anxiety.) Finding your favorite shoes terminally gnawed will be annoying, so keep your clothing and laundry in the closet, with the door closed. Electrical cords, on the other hand, are truly dangerous. Tempting, though, so bundle them together and secure them along the baseboards.
What else is fun to play with but should be off limits to pets? Sewing notions such as needles and thread, yarn and knitting needles, glues and other crafts supplies, and anything small enough to fit in your pet’s mouth.
- Go High
Household cleaning products are often toxic, but they also smell intriguing to dogs and cats. They must be stored either on shelves high enough to be out of reach, or in closed cabinets. Behind closed doors is definitely the choice for cats, because their acrobatic talents can easily carry them onto shelves.
Along that same line, does your feline like to snooze atop the refrigerator, or on some other higher-up perch? Make doubly sure there’s nothing up there that could hurt her when she jumps up – or get broken if it falls.
If your flat comes with a garage and you use it to store products such as antifreeze, be aware that even the tiniest amount of this stuff can kill your pet. Securing it is critical, as is immediately cleaning up any spills.
- Use Child-Proofing Tools
Cats tend to have better dexterity than dogs, but either may be motivated to open cabinet doors. If simply closing the door won’t keep them out, ask your landlord if you can install child-proof latches. You might also consider little covers for electrical outlets not in use. Baby gates or pet-specific gates are a great way to close off a room. If your pup is big enough to hop over a barrier like that, consider crate-training him for times when you want him confined. (Note that this is not an all-day-every-day option.)
- Lavish Your Pet with Safe Alternatives
Pet-proofing your flat is a necessity, but so is choosing toys for your pet pooch or moggy that are safe as well as fun. London is replete with excellent pet shopping options, so that should be no problem. A fun cat tree and scratching post and an assortment of fun, chewy toys will keep your furry friend’s mind active and focused on good things rather than terrorizing your flat.
Once you’ve pet-proofed your flat, you can get on to other, more fun, things – like exploring all that London has to offer. It’s quite pet-friendly. And remember this: the more exercise your dog or cat gets, the more tired he will be. And a tired pet is less likely to get into trouble around the house.