Pet-proofing your home

Just as you prepare a home for a newborn baby, you need to ready yourself for the arrival of a new pet, says Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

“Puppies and kittens are adorable little mess monsters that just want to explore their new surroundings. But, beyond the possible damage they might cause to your home, their careless wanderings might also land them in some seriously dangerous predicaments,” he says.

“Responsible pet owners will make sure that they have readied their homes against possible accidents long before their new pet arrives. Apart from dreadful plastic covered sofas and child-proof gates, there are many ways to pet-proof your home that do not transform the space into a mausoleum for your fur-ball friends.”

For starters, trash cans – or toy baskets in the eyes of your pet – need to be cleverly stowed away if you want to avoid an emergency run to the vet to get the plastic bottle cap out of poor Spot’s throat.

A built-in trash cupboard is an inexpensive and easy way to protect your pet against the temptation of trash diving, but also to help you sell your home faster if you do ever decide to sell, says Goslett.

Next on your pet’s list of sinful temptations are your shoes and slippers. An hour feels like a lifetime to your pet, so they will seek out anything that has your scent on it when you are not around just so that they can feel closer to you. To make sure shoes and slippers stay out of reach, consider installing a shoe rack in your wardrobe, or buy a free-standing shoe locker for your entryway. Having a specific spot for your shoes lessens the temptation to scatter them around the house for your pet to snack on later.

Electric cords are another thing you need to protect your pet against. While there are many anti-chew sprays on the market, it is advisable rather to organise cables in such a way that your pets cannot reach them.

“Messy wiring is also a deterrent when trying to sell your home. There are many creative ways to hide the wiring in your home, from wiring covers to customised cabinets that have been specifically designed to fit your house’s wiring,” Goslett says.

In the garden, there may be plants that can be toxic to your pets so you will need to remove these to keep your pet out of harm’s way. Some common outdoor plants like azaleas, hydrangeas and daffodils can cause harm to your pet’s sensitive digestive system. It is best to do an internet search or to ask an expert at your local gardening emporium for advice.

Fences and boundary walls also need to be properly maintained and reinforced before you add a pet to your outdoor space. Whether large or small, all pets will find the gap and escape to catch the squirrel or mailman or whatever else they think might have been taunting them on the other side. Your job as a responsible pet-owner is to make sure this never happens.

“Ultimately, you want to create a space that is safe, secure and pleasant to live in – for your pets and also for your family,” Goslett concludes.