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How to prepare your home for a new pet

Getting a new pet is an exciting time for you and your family. Here are some important steps to take to get your home ready.

Kittens and puppies can be mischievous, so it’s important to check that your home is safe before you bring them home.

Pets indoors: You are what you eat

Puppies like to chew things. Just like toddlers, they chew as a way to alleviate the pain of teething. Make sure you supervise them to stop them chewing wires or your furniture. Try and keep chewable items such as socks and shoes out of reach – it’s common for puppies to swallow large pieces of chewed up items, which can then become stuck in their intestines. When you’re out, it’s worth leaving your puppy in a crate, so they can be kept safe when you’re not there to watch them.
Kittens love playing with wool and string. However, swallowing long pieces can cause the intestines to bunch up, resulting in a lengthy and potentially dangerous operation. Make sure there are no sewing kits left around, and your kitten can’t pull on any loose curtain threads.
Investing in a good supply of puppy toys or cat toys is a good idea – it gives your new pet something safe to chew on and play with.
Make sure all food items are secured away in a cupboard. Onions, grapes, sultanas, and chocolate can be toxic to animals. Clear away kitchen scraps quickly and make sure your pet can’t access the rubbish bin. Cooked chicken bones can be tempting but can also be very dangerous if swallowed.
Household cleaners and insecticides should also be placed well out of reach of your pet.


Pets in the garden: venturing outside

If your new pet has access to a garden, make sure it’s safe - it only takes a small hole for a puppy to squeeze through. You should never leave your pet unattended in the garden – puppies will chew on anything they can find. If you notice them chewing stones, limit their access to gravelled areas.
There are a number of things commonly found in gardens that can be toxic for pets:
  • Daffodil bulbs – make sure these aren’t dug up and chewed.
  • Lilies – these are extremely toxic to cats and can result in kidney failure.
  • Rat or slug bait – make sure this is well out of the way. If in doubt, don’t use them.

Pet safety: getting into a tight spot

Puppies and kittens are inquisitive and like to explore. Always keep the doors to the fridge, washing machine, and tumble dryer shut. Kittens like to curl up inside the washing machine and fall asleep. Keep the toilet seat down as well – kittens can easily fall in and get stuck. Pet beds are important – they give your pet somewhere safe to sleep.

Pet discipline: establishing boundaries

Although your new pet is adorable, you need to establish boundaries right from the start. If you don’t want them to chew something, say ‘no’ in a stern voice and give them a toy instead – your consistency will soon pay off. If your cat starts scratching the furniture, invest in a cat scratching post. You might also want to try Feliway for cats – a Feliway plug in can help to calm and settle your feline.
It’s also a good idea to limit access to all rooms until your puppy is house trained and your kitten can be trusted. You can use baby gates to help with this. Your pet will soon learn that they don’t have the right to roam freely in your house, and will wait to be asked before entering a room. Not only does this result in a polite and well-mannered pet, it also prevents any noses and tails being trapped in doors.