It is estimated that more than 60% of homes in the United States alone have one or more pets. And one of the best things you can do for a pet is to eliminate as many hazards as possible. Here are 5 things you can do to make your home safer.

Secure the garbage. Trash can be hazardous to pets. And some pets are able to raid the can better than others. Things such as jagged or tiny bones and other sharp items can puncture and tear vital organs as they make their way through the digestive tract. Other items that are hazardous such as chocolate, coffee and tea bags, discarded medication can all be deadly.

Storing the trash inside a cabinet in a container that has a lid is a good idea. Lightweight containers that can be overturned by bigger animals should be avoided. If you avoid feeding your dog table scraps there is a chance that they may never be interested. But admittedly this is easier said than done. And once they’ve had a taste of people food, there’s no turning back.

Establish toilet etiquette. As gross as this sounds, for those of us who are pet owners (particularly dogs), you know that some animals just like to go there. If you have a pet who likes toilet water, make sure that everyone who uses it always flushes until the water is clean.

It’s also important that if this is your pet’s only water source, that everyone (guests included) is reminded to leave the top up and the door open. Forgetting do this can mean your pet is left without water and that should be avoided at all costs.

Clear the table. We had my parents over one evening and left a cheese ball covered with nuts on the table while we let them out. When we returned to clear the table the cheese was gone. I called and asked if they had carried it home with them. They had not. We discovered that our Golden Retriever had eaten the entire thing when we saw the little walnuts that had settled to the bottom of the toilet.

While this is a funny story that I have continued to tell, you can easily see that this could have been disaster with chocolate or some other unforgiving food. The best thing to do is either secure your pet when you don’t have time to clear the table, or take the time to put all the food in a place that makes it unavailable to your pet.

Eliminate choking hazards. If you have small children at home this can be a continuing concern. But explaining the importance of keeping small objects off the floor can help children feel that they are doing their part to take care of the family pet too.

These hazards can also be normal household items such as toothpicks, safety and straight pins, nails, screws, coins and a ton of other things. You can also let your pet know in a gentle but firm way that these items are off limits.

Provide secure outside space. This is an important one. Having a fenced area that other people and animals cannot enter without your permission and/or knowledge is great. An unsecured yard is a heartbreak waiting to happen.

Electric fences are great visually, but they won’t keep your pet from being taken or attacked by another animal. This is food for thought as you decide what’s best for your situation.

Establish routine for opening doors. Pets running out of an open door and getting hit by a car, or wandering off and getting lost are probably 2 of the most painful ways to lose a pet. Having everyone on board about what happens when the door to the outside is opened is a routine that should be established early with humans and animals. This can help keep your pet safe and allow you to enjoy a happy life together for a long time.

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