America is the land of pets. According to the American Pet Products Association, nearly 70 percent of U.S. households—85 million families—own a pet. That is up from 56 percent in the late 1980s.
Chances are, if you own a pet, that pet spends a lot of time indoors. After all, more than 60 percent of American families own a dog, while almost 50 percent own a cat.
Keeping them safe indoors is of paramount importance. Here are 10 tips to keep in mind:
- Stick to “room temperature.” Your home should be cooled or heated to about 70 degrees. Drastic swings in temperature—whether too cold or too hot—make pets uncomfortable, and more susceptible to sickness.
- Don’t forget the food and water. This goes without saying, but pets are living beings. They need to be fed and hydrated multiple times a day. “Forgetting” to stock up on food or allowing the water to run dry leads to malnourishment.
- Keep electrical hardware out of sight. Pets enjoy chewing on electrical cords and other hardware, but that leaves them susceptible to burns and shocks. Potentially dangerous hardware needs to be hidden, so they’re not easily tempted.
- Choose the right houseplants. Speaking of chewing, it’s common for pets to have a taste of leaves or bark. Even licking or rubbing against a houseplant can expose pets to harmful plant oils, which can be fatal in high doses. Pick the right one, like a Boston fern or a spider plant.
- Store your chemicals safely. Aerosol cleaners and antifreeze, for example, can pique a pet’s curiosity, but they’re not safe! Store them away, and don’t forget to crack the windows when you’re done. Proper ventilation makes any pet feel better.
- The same goes for medications. Do not leave loose pills scattered around the house. They may help you, but pets have no need for unprescribed medications. It can make them sick, or worse.
- Drink responsibly. Obviously, you shouldn’t give alcohol to a pet. But you shouldn’t leave empty glassware lying around either. If that glass breaks, it can be hazardous to a pet sniffing for booze.
- Smoke responsibly too. Store away your empty glassware and your cigarette butts. The same goes for cigars. You may be a smoker, but you shouldn’t expose a pet to such substances—even if they’re not lit. Dispose safely and efficiently.
- Dogs and chocolate don’t mix. One of the key components of chocolate is theobromine, which can be toxic to dogs. While we easily metabolize theobromine, dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system.
- Neither do cats and string. It’s no secret: Cats enjoy playing with string. But don’t let them do it unmonitored. They can easily get tangled up, and what was once harmless playing can lead to suffocation.