9 Quick, Easy Ways to Pet-Proof Your Home

Updated: Jan. 30, 2024

Here are the most common hazards pets face in the home—plus, ways to pet-proof your way out of every one of them.

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Now we know who has eaten sausage.
Shutterstock / Igor Normann

Keep Dangerous Foods Hidden

Human food does not equal animal food! There are a surprising number of common foods that are poisonous to pets, including onions and chocolate. Check out our list of harmful foods for Fido. Even if the food itself isn’t toxic, your pet could choke on the packaging. So keep all foods out of reach of your pets, or behind closed cabinet doors. Feeling guilty? Here are some dog-friendly recipes so your pet doesn’t feel left out.

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Seven weeks old adorable little beagle puppy exploring a garbage can
Shutterstock / Anneka

Secure Your Garbage Can

Does your pet consider the trash to be its personal feast? The mess is not only annoying to clean up, it can also be very dangerous for your pet. Glass, chicken bones and poisonous foods can all be lurking in your trash can. Try keeping your garbage tucked away in a closed closet or child-proofed cabinet. Or, you could invest in a garbage can that opens with foot pedals, and is heavy enough that your pet can’t knock it over.

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Cat near overturned house plant on light carpet
Shutterstock / Africa Studio

Be Aware of Poisonous Plants

Did you know some of the most popular types of houseplants are extremely poisonous to pets if ingested? Philodendrons, pothos ivy and several types of lilies can cause serious health problems in your pet. Keep dangerous plants out of reach of your pets—especially cats with a tendency to climb—if not removing them completely.

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White medicine pills spilling out of bottle on wooden floor with blurred cute Shih tzu dog background
Shutterstock / Orawan Pattarawimonchai

Move Chemicals and Medications out of Reach

Pets can sense a lot, but they don’t always know what can hurt them. Make sure you store any hazardous chemicals, cleaning supplies and medications in a secure area. Move items to a high shelf where your pet can’t reach them, or consider installing child-proof locks on cabinets where supplies are kept.

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White and grey cat drinking in the toilet bowl in a bathroom
Shutterstock / Olivia Lorot

Make Sure Your Toilet Lid Is Closed

Besides being pretty gross, drinking out of the toilet is a huge health risk for your pets. Cleaning chemicals used inside your toilet can cause life-threatening problems if ingested. Keep the toilet lid closed, and if your clever pet figures out how to get the lid open, get a toilet lock.

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Worker cleaning driveway with gasoline high pressure washer splashing the dirt
Shutterstock / sbw18

Clean up Toxic Spills on Your Driveway

If your pet spends time in the garage or driveway, it’s vital that you make sure the pavement is clear of antifreeze or oil spills, as just a few licks could be fatal. To remove spills, spray the affected area with water and then sprinkle with powdered laundry detergent. Cover the spill with newspaper, and lightly dampen the newspaper with more water. Let the newspaper stand and soak for three hours. Remove and scrub the area to lift off any remaining stains. Here’s how to get grease off the most common kitchen surfaces.

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black cat in white laundry basket with clean clothing
Shutterstock / Maria Dryfhout

Watch out for Choking Hazards

Shoelaces, loose buttons, small toys and string all pose choking and digestive hazards to your pets. Make sure laundry is in the hamper or behind closed doors. Double check under furniture for any loose string—while the pieces may be hard to reach for humans, your kitten will certainly find a way. Finally, keep shoes tucked away in a safe place, and it could benefit the health of your whole family to exile shoes from your house entirely.

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red cat on the window
Shutterstock / Irina Bg

Get Rid of Dangerous Hiding Spots

Depending on the size of your pet, they can find all sorts of small places to get into trouble. Make sure any holes behind your washer and dryer are plugged up, and keep covers on your heating and A/C vents. Don’t leave windows uncovered—install screens if you need some fresh air, or keep windows closed altogether. Finally, always double check rooms, closets, washing machines and dryers, and even dresser drawers before closing them to make sure your pet isn’t inside.

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Golden retriever dog puppy playing with toy while lying on den

Tuck Away Dangling Wires

Pets love to chew on anything and everything. Not only is it a bummer to come home to a destroyed laptop charger, electrical cords pose a huge danger to your pet. Keep all cords tucked away. And don’t forget to provide your pet with plenty of safe, alternative chew toys to keep them occupied and away from wires and other chewing hazards.