A house is
not a home without a pet. As we enjoy the companionship of our
pets, we should ask ourselves if our home is a safe haven for
Even pets who spend most of their time indoors may be exposed
to a number of potential hazards. Cleaning solutions such as disinfectants,
drain cleaners, and detergents are among the many household chemicals
which may prove toxic to a pet. They should be stored in tightly
closed containers and secured cabinets where pets cannot reach
them. Medicines should also be stored out of the reach of pets.
Sharp objects such as knives and forks, paper clips, carpet tacks,
pins should be kept out of a pet's reach. Children's toys and
small objects may attract a playful pet and become lodged in its
mouth or swallowed. Yarn as well as thread and twine could cause
serious damage to the intestinal tract.
According to the National Safety Council, as many as 5,000 house
fires a year can be attributed to pets as a result of their chewing
electric cords. To help prevent this hazard, do your best to keep
electric wiring out of the pet's sight and reach. Exposed lamp
cords and other wires should be kept as short as possible. If
extension cords are used, tack them against a baseboard or run
them under a carpet so they cannot be played with or chewed.
If you live in an apartment, If the window screens are not securely
fastened, a dog may fall from a window and suffer serious injuries.
Dogs are sometimes at risk on a high-rise balcony. A lively dog
could squeeze through the bars and fall, leading to injury or
Maintaining a "fresh air policy" in your home protects
your pet as well as family members from being adversely affected
by continued exposure to indoor air pollutants. Among common air
pollutants are nitrogen dioxide from gas appliances, wood-burning
stoves and unvented kerosene heaters.
Other health-threatening pollutants are radon, fumes from household
products such as cleaning agents, pesticides, paints and varnishes,
microbial and fungal agents found in air conditioners, air ducts,
filters and humidifiers. Gas appliances should be properly functioning.
Always use great care with kerosene heaters and follow the manufacturer's
instructions. Gas stoves, and kerosene heaters or stoves should
be vented to the outside of the house.
Smoke alarms, carbon dioxide monitors and regular maintenance
of one's furnace are all things we can do to improve the home
environment for ourselves and our pets.
Cars should never be left running inside a garage. This can be
lethal if the garage is ever used to house a pet.
According to the Center for Disease control, 74 percent of homes
in the United States built prior to 1980 contain hazardous amounts
of lead paint. Paint should be removed with extreme caution. Clean-up
should be prompt and thorough. Other items containing lead accessible
to pets include lead base paint, linoleum, and caulking compounds.
Pets either ingest or inhale lead. Its harmful effects may not
show up until weeks later. Signs of lead poisoning include vomiting,
diarrhea or constipation, loss of appetite, loss of muscle coordination,
blindness and seizures. Veterinary treatment is essential.
Outdoor dangers that are often kept in a garage or basement include
windshield cleaners, weed killers, insecticides, used motor oil
and antifreeze. Many pets are attracted to the sweet taste of
antifreeze containing the chemical ethylene glycol which is highly
toxic to dogs and cats. If it is spilled on the ground or not
properly stored, many pets lap it up. Make certain your pets are
not in the vicinity when antifreeze is being drained. Dispose
of used material promptly. New anti-freeze products have been
introduced that claim to be non-toxic to pets. However, I believe
in the adage, "better safe than sorry." Clean up any
spilled product and safely store the remainder.
A final thought: If you have children, many of the safety measures
needed for pets are probably already in place. If not, take a
safety audit of your house to ensure that it's home, safe home,
for your pet.