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Safety Guidance for the Inside Pet

 by petbucket on 23 Oct 2015 |
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Pets are often compared to children, with affectionate names like "my babies" or "my fur-children." To be sure, there is nothing quite like a fuzzy companion (or even a scaly or feathery one!) to warm hearts and make a house truly a home. That said, like children, pets require a lot of supervision and attention. Any cat owner knows drinks should not be left unattended, nor chords left uncovered, lest a curious paw, nose, or tooth get into places it shouldn't. Similarly, parents of puppies become aware very quickly that no food is safe, not even that meatloaf on the counter -- especially not that meatloaf on the counter.
   But there are other dangers every pet owner needs to look out for, far more threatening than damage to precious snacks or electronics. Animals are by nature exploratory and tenacious, making them excellent candidates for a dozen or more close-calls: open dryers, unattended chocolate, sharp pork pones, and doors left open just a crack are only some of the anxieties pet owners are up against.
    If your animal is strictly an "inside" dog or cat, and is not allowed to go outside off leash or harness, you have already avoided several potentially deadly risks, such as traffic, wild animals, and, unfortunately, unfriendly neighbors. You also avoid your pet getting lost, or injured on fences, broken glass, or other human-made hazards. Gone are many of the chances for your baby to find poisonous snacks outside and gobble them down, or for them to contract diseases from contact with other wandering animals.
    But it is by no means safe to assume that simply bubble-wrapping your pet up cozily inside your home is enough to keep the stubborn pet from getting into mischief. There are plenty of health risks in the average home that need to be monitored in order to keep your fur-baby safe, happy, and healthy.
    One such potential problem is your kitchen garbage. Most pet owners have experienced their pet robbing the garbage for treats at least once, and often the main frustration is in the mess created, or perhaps a tummy ache for the offending animal. But did you know that these incidents are cause for concern based on more than simple bad table manners? We humans throw away a lot of hazardous materials, all things considered. What may seem to us to be merely a bunch of gone-by grapes can be a rush to the vet for a curious canine, and a tempting pork-bone can become a sharp splinter of bone lodged in an unsuspecting animal's throat or stomach.
     If you plan on discarding bad leftovers, or disposing of chicken bones or other byproducts from your meals, it is vital to practice awareness. What are you putting in the can? Is it accessible to sneaky pets? A garbage can lid can go a long way in preventing cats from rolling in the leftovers, but more stability may be needed to disuade stubborn ones, or larger animals such as dogs. Consider acquiring a large, sturdy box to keep your can in, or a heavier metallic can with a tight-sealing lid to conceal tempting odors. It is also wise to keep your garbage can in a cupboard, or even behind a pet-proof door, such as in the laundry room or a closet.
     In the vein of edible dangers, table-scraps given directly to your animal can also have harmful effects. Even if you don't feed your pets human food, it's important to be aware of who in your household might. If you have animal-loving guests over, young children, or anyone vulnerable to puppy eyes, take a moment to let them know how important it is that nothing unusual is given to your pet to eat. Preventing your dog or cat from being fed raisins, chocolate-chip cookies, or a "taste" of coffee or beer can go a long way in protecting their health. Looking up lists of seemingly innocent human foods that can hurt your animals is a wise choice. Consider sharing your findings with family and friends as well, for the safety of your own animals, as well as theirs.
     Another common complaint of many owners is the destruction of electrical chords, if not the entire gadget its attached to. Of course this behavior is annoying, and can damage your belongings, but it can also damage a playful kitten or puppy. Electrocution should always warrant precautions.
     One simple but effective way of keeping your pets from taking too much interest in the tempting, dangling, swinging and chewy chords around your home is to take away their most interesting features to "hunting" kittens or puppies: tape them down. This won't get rid of the fun chewy texture, but it will keep them from swinging in the animals' faces when in use, causing an incredible need to tackle in most cats.
      You may also wish to consider purchasing a cord sorter. There are several kinds available on the market, many of which only help humans to differentiate one cord from another for easy device hooking up and unplugging. But soft wrap-around protectors can also be bought, which keep the cords from tangling with each other, and, most importantly, with any kitten claws or puppy teeth. This tactic removes the texture temptation, as well as making them heavier, and less fun to bat around or pull on.
       If you live alone, this next risk is minimal, but will still apply from time to time when guests are over. Those pet owners who share space with other humans have a risk that's ever-present, but rarely discussed: handling by others. If you have animals small enough to pick up, it is vital that everyone who has a chance of doing so is aware of the correct way to handle your pet. If someone wants to hold your animal, ensure that they first are shown how to lift, hold, and pet your animal. Households with small children have special challenges in helping the young ones to learn the best ways to touch a pet without hurting it. Enforce gentle petting only, with removal of the animal from the child's reach if the rule cannot be followed properly.
       Don't leave your young child alone with a dog or cat, even if they are always kind to it. A well-meaning child may accidentally "love" an animal too hard, pulling ears, pinching, squishing, or poking. This can effect both the physical well-being and the animal's ability to feel safe. Likewise, it is always smart not to leave an animal and small child alone lest the child get hurt, whether from a bite, scratch, or something as simple as getting knocked over during play.
       Finally, temperature can be crucial for the well-being of all animals, though perhaps particularly non-furry ones. If you notice your animal shivering, and you feel chilly yourself, try cuddling with the pet, or constructing a blanket nest for them. If they are panting excessively, or lying splayed out on the kitchen floor in the summer, they are likely too hot, and may appreciate a cool, damp towel to lie on, a bowl of fresh water, or an electric fan blowing gently on them. Don't leave your pet home alone in extreme weather of any kind. At best, they may be frightened by stormy weather, at worst they can become overheated or chilled, which can lead to illness.
      While it is true that outside, or outside-inside animals (those who spend time both outdoors and in the home) are subjected to more risks than their strictly inside cousins, it is vital to remember that having four walls around your pet does not promise they will not find danger. Keep an eye on your little ones, and remember that a good rule of thumb is: if you wouldn't allow your baby to live in the environment your home creates, it's time to baby-proof. Lock away the cleaning supplies, remove all access to human food unsupervised (even for creative trash-burglars), and don't give opportunity to play with toys that are not meant for them.
      Being a parent, whether of a human child, or a furry friend, is a full time job, riddled with worry, and with joy. Every pet parent needs to do their part to ensure the longest, happiest time together a furry baby and their parent can have


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