9 Easy Ways to Pet-Proof Your Home

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You've been waiting for this day for what feels like decades: your new puppy or kitten is finally coming home. Congratulations — but now you're responsible for their welfare. No need to panic. Keeping a pet safe and healthy isn't terribly difficult, but it does require consciously pet-proofing your space. Walk through your home with these nine tips in mind, looking out for ways to make your space safer and more enjoyable for the newest and furriest member of your family.

1. Inventory your house plants.

Dogs and cats are curious creatures — so make sure an investigative nibble won't send Fido to the animal ER. Check the ASPCA's list to see if any of your gorgeous potted plants are poisonous to animals. If so, consider donating your greenery to a pet-free home or hang them from the ceiling. Just keep in mind, cats love climbing tall bookcases.

2. Ditch the candles.

Okay, fine: You can keep super pretty candles — but you'll need to keep a close eye on the flame. Or, consider treating your nostrils with a non-toxic (free from VOCs, phosphates, phthalates, and dyes) room spray instead.

3. Clean up electrical cables.

What's worse than your new tiny kitten chewing on a poisonous plant? When she digs her teeth into your television cable. Not only can strong currents electrocute your precious pets, but they can ruin your expensive electronics. Save a life (and your wallet) by tucking those cords out of sight.

4. Hide cleaning supplies.

You want to clean your bathroom — not your dog's intestines. Hide your cleaning supplies from curious explorers. Don't forget to make sure the cabinet doors are tightly closed. If your pet can wriggle the door open, consider using a heavy-duty magnetic door catch.

5. Check your doors and windows.

Don't let your puppy run free. Before bringing your new pet home, check all of your doors and windows. Do you see any opportunities for an accidental escape? Replace any broken glass, torn screens, and fix any fiddly doorknobs.

6. Set up a designated space.

Everyone deserves a spot of their own — even your animals. To prevent them from wreaking havoc on your carefully curated space, create a designated pet-friendly area. Add a fluffy bed and lots of toys to keep them cozy and entertained. Consider defining it even further with a baby gate.

7. Close the toilet lid.

What is it about toilet water that makes pets so deliriously happy? It can also make them deliriously sick: Drinking from the loo puts pets at risk of bacterial contamination or giardia. So put the lid down when the toilet isn't actively in use.

8. Hunt for choking hazards.

Scour your space for itsy-bitsy toys or home decor that your pet could potentially mistake for food. The list of potential choking hazards is long, but keep an eye out for batteries, decorative pebbles, and kids' toys with small bits and bobs.

9. Buy a new trash can.

If you already have a closed-lid trash can, you can skip this step. But replacing your open-top bin with a lidded model — especially in the bathroom — can save your dog's stomach and your sanity. Pets love nothing more than ripping through your refuse, and cleaning up their mess can be a disgusting affair.

Jamie is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado, who writes about real estate and interior design.

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