Congratulations on your newest bundle of fluffy joy.
It makes no difference if you adopted, rescued, or purchased, and whether they are young or old. If it has been awhile since a new pet has entered your household, look at your home through the eyes of a pet unfamiliar with its layout and boundaries.
INSIDE THE HOME
As this pet is unaware of the confines of your property, fearful, or just wants to go for a run, ensure there are no escape routes available to them. Exterior doors, sliders, and windows should be closed. Window and door screens are not a deterrent. Second floor windows can be deadly if the pet tries to make a break for it. I always open windows from the top pane downwards rather than the bottom pane upwards, Although, that may not prevent a cat, bird, or ferret from getting out. Ferrets are notorious for getting into the walls of a home. Look for holes and repair immediately.
Collars and harnesses should fit properly. If it is too loose, a scared dog can back out of them. The front attaching harnesses and martingale collars are more secure and you will have better control of them. Breakaway collars are a must for cats as they are far more agile than dogs and while leaping about, may catch the collar on something. If the collar does not breakaway, the cat may hang itself.
Look at your home from their eye level. See what they see. Licking or sticking a nose into an electrical outlet or chewing on cords can cause heart attacks. Small children’s toys left lying around can pose a choking hazard if ingested.
Pets are attracted to the saltiness of empty snack bags. These bags are slick on the inside. Once they get their head in it, they may not be able to remove it and will suffocate.
Store poisonous substances such as pesticides, fertilizers, cleaning supplies, pool chemicals, antifreeze, bleach, motor oil, and similar products stored in the laundry room or garage out of the pet’s reach. In addition, smaller mammals like to hide in laundry baskets. Use caution when loading the washing machine or dryer.
Secure the garbagecan in the kitchen and remove food from tables within their reach to prevent marauding. Many of our foods are not poisonous to pets, but can cause choking as well as intestinal damage. Stovetops can burn paws. Removing the knobs can prevent a pet from accidently turning on a gas stove.
OUTSIDE THE HOME
Know what plants and shrubs are deadly to your pets before planting. Your local nursery, as well as www.petpoisonhelpline is a good resource. Metal edgings and other lawn decorations may have sharp edges that can slice paws and ears. Non-organic mulch is treated with dyes and chemicals. If ingested, mulch can cause choking and intestinal damage.
Dangerous local wildlife in the local area includes coyotes, hawks, and snakes. Coyotes hunt in packs and can take down a large dog. Larger hawks can carry off pets in the 30-pound range. All snakebites are dangerous. While copperheads are the most common poisonous snakes in these parts, we also have rattlesnakes and cottonmouths.
Pets can drown in pools if they are unable to get out. There are ramps designed to attach to your pool so your pet has an easy way out.
Bar-B-Q’s are hot and a temptation for dogs. That attraction can cause burns, choking, and intestinal damage.
Keep outside gates latched, as well as look for damage or holes in fencing. Lightening can short circuit electronic fences. Always test the line after a storm and periodically check the batteries.
Bringing a new pet into a different environment can be stressful. Set the mood with diffused calming essential oils, playing soothing music, and add crystals throughout the house.
**Important note about essential oils and cats and birds** Cats cannot metabolize most essential oils and birds cannot metabolize any.
Rather than processed out from their bodies, essential oils are stored causing long-term health problems. However, you can diffuse essential oils in the air if the cat is healthy. Good choices for crystals include Rose Quartz for love, Tiger Eye for grounding, and Blue Lace Agate for calming. Place stones out of reach of pets’ as they can be a choking hazard.
You may need the services of a dog trainer. Choose one that uses positive reinforcement as their primary tool for training as opposed to aversive or punishment training. Since dog training is not a regulated profession it's important to always interview your trainer prior to hiring. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior offers some good guidelines for choosing a dog trainer.
According to Donna Gleason CPDT, CDBC, “When training our pets, it is imbedded in research that positive reinforcement is the fastest and most effective way. Focusing on rewarding your pet when he/she is acting appropriately lends to a more well adjusted animal and increases the bond you have with your pet.”
Microchip them before coming home and supply the microchip company with a photo and current phone numbers, including a cell number. Collar tags should be new. Older ID tags become worn and unreadable, as well as not have current phone number on them.
Nick Trout sums up the joys of pet ownership perfectly.
“It may be a cat, a bird, a ferret, or a guinea pig, but the chances are high that when someone close to you dies, a pet will be there to pick up the slack. Pets devour the loneliness. They give us purpose, responsibility, a reason for getting up in the morning, and a reason to look to the future. They ground us, help us escape the grief, make us laugh, and take full advantage of our weakness by exploiting our furniture, our beds, and our refrigerator. We wouldn't have it any other way. Pets are our seat belts on the emotional roller coaster of life--they can be trusted, they keep us safe, and they sure do smooth out the ride.”
For all the joy, love, and companionship they offer us, taking a little time to make sure their home and environment is as safe as can be, is the least we can do.
©2015 Mary Oquendo www.maryoquendo.com