Thinking about getting a pet? You wouldn’t be the only one. The BC SPCA is literally running out of dogs as thousands of people turn to pet adoption for comfort during the COVID-19 pandemic. And while pets can be a source of great comfort and love (not to mention a great reason to get outside every day), sharing your home with them is a whole other story. Your new roommate is basically a confident toddler, ready to swallow, lick, or poop on any available surface.
Here are our best tips to get started making your home safe for your pet and maintaining your own sanity.
6 tips for pet proofing your apartment
1. Raise your plants
Did you know a lot of houseplants (even the low-maintenance ones) are actually poisonous to pets? Plus, many varieties of succulents are encased in thin needles and spiky bits that could injure your pet.
But, while you may want to get rid of any toxic plants included on this list, having a pet doesn’t mean you can’t have any plants at all. You just have to keep them out of your pet’s reach—typically, the higher up the better. Perhaps even hanging from the ceiling, away from shelving that could serve as a climbing apparatus for particularly acrobatic cats.
Also, consider keeping your plants in a space in the house that is off limits to your pets.
2. Gate off-limits areas
Speaking of “off limits,” you may wish to keep your pet out of some areas of your apartment all together, like your bathroom (medication, toilet bowl water, cleaning products) or your home office (electrical equipment, knick knacks, tools), or your kitchen while you’re cooking (knives, hot oil, general chaos). While you can use anything to erect a barrier to entry to these rooms, baby gates work particularly well, as your pet can still keep an eye on you from a distance. As in all relationships, it’s good to set boundaries.
On the flip side, you could also create an area that’s just for your pet, kind of like a play pen, that they could stay in while you are distracted with other tasks.
3. Use child-proof latches on cupboards
They say that pets are not the same as children, but when it comes to locking up your medicine…they really are. Child-proof latches are going to come in handy for all the cupboards in your apartment because basically anything you’d put in a cupboard is something you would not want your pet to eat: batteries, medication, alcohol, chocolate, cleaning products, detergent, sharp tools, etc.
And yes, you could train them to simply not open cupboards, but better to be safe than sorry.
PS: If you can’t get a hold of child proof latches, it also helps to have cupboards with no handles. How are you going to figure that one out Princess?
4. Tie up cords and wires
Dogs love to chew on cords. Unfortunately they are quite uneducated on the topic of how electricity works, so they are likely to chew a cord that is plugged in. Just thinking about a dog entering my home office right now, which is basically a single desk and a giant pile of loose cords under said desk, is giving me an anxiety attack.
Luckily it’s relatively easy to get your loose cords out of site and out of mind. Tie them up and store them out of your pet’s reach, and/or encase them in a plastic cord protector. Bonus: doing this will probably lengthen the life of your cords as well.
5. Use a trash can with a lid
Pets love trash. And while having a doggo dig through and spread your trash all over your apartment is not ideal, it can also be dangerous. Think about what you throw in your garbage on a daily basis…it’s probably nothing that’s going to make your pet feel better if they ingest it. Better to keep a lid on all your garbage receptacles. And that goes for recycling and compost bins too.
Bonus: lids also keep stinky garbage from smelling up your apartment.
6. Keep clutter minimal
Your apartment will probably never be 100% pet proof (How are cats so smart, honestly? It’s creepy and they need to stop.), but opting for a minimalist aesthetic is one easy way to reduce the risk of your pet injuring themselves and/or damaging things you love. With less clutter around, your pet will have less temptation to chew, swallow, or bump into dangerous things.
If there are any hazards in your apartment, like a fallen wire or puddle of bleach, they’ll stand out immediately in a clear, open space, and you’ll be able to clean them up before your pet finds them. It’ll also be easier to see when it’s time to vacuum.