Whether it's a dog, cat, bird, or even a guinea pig, keeping a new pet safe in your house can take a backseat to all the excitement of bringing them home. But loving a new addition to your family means more than giving them food and plenty of attention. As animal ownership increases — according to the Insurance Information Institute 68 percent of U.S. households now own pets — pet safety is an even bigger priority for more of us. Try these tips to get started.
Focus on living space first
Where will your new pet spend the most time? Probably in the same rooms you are in. Take a look at everything from a pet's perspective: For example, non-threatening household items — air fresheners, glassware, houseplants, and game board pieces — can pose pet safety risks. Keep storage closed with childproof cabinet locks and check that plants are safe for cats, dogs, and any other animals that might have freedom to roam.
Do a bathroom check
Keep toilet bowls securely latched to protect birds, dogs, cats, and other animals from drowning or potential poisoning. And limit the cleaning or beauty products that you keep unsecured under the sink or on your vanity; they can be harmful if ingested.
Scan the kitchen
Cats and birds can easily get to food even on the uppermost shelves, so watch for choking hazards. Seal open snack bags in storage containers, make sure lids shut securely, and close cabinet doors to prevent unwanted rummaging. (Install childproof cabinet locks as needed.) In addition, try to keep counters and sinks free of dirty dishes or food, which can also attract pets.
Check personal spaces
Bedroom, office, or laundry room shouldn't be overlooked. Declutter any clothing, shoes, or accessories that you store outside of a closet. Do a daily check-in to limit the number of trinkets and laundry items that are lying around — they present choking or intestinal hazards.
Learn what your pet needs
Part of being a pet owner is anticipating what run-ins your dog, cat, or other animal might have with things in your home. And those hazards might change from season to season — such as the need to cat-proof a Christmas tree. Minimize the downsides as you can, with protection for furniture, rugs, and more. If you minimize damage, you'll minimize repair and keep your home or rental in better shape, too.