News Item | PAWS Chicago

Protect your pet Avoid these common household risks

by Amy Williams Bernstein | Jul 13, 2015

Cats and dogs are naturally curious, which can lead to trouble. “As you animal-proof your home, remember that their sense of smell is so much better than ours,” cautions Dr. Barbara Royal, veterinarian at Royal Treatment Veterinary Center. Here’s a room-by-room guide to making your home safe for your pets.



Some toothpastes contain xylitol, which is extremely toxic to cats and dogs. Xylitol is also used in some sugar-free gums and candies. Be sure to keep these where pets can’t get to them.


Don’t leave medicines out. Clean up any spilled medicines immediately.

Toilet paper

Some pets eat toilet paper and other cotton products, which can cause an obstruction in the intestines. If you can’t keep these products away from your pets, keep bathroom doors closed to keep pets out.



Tie up long cords on window drapes or blinds. Puppies and cats are especially at risk of getting tangled up and strangled.


Protect electrical cords from being chewed to prevent electrocution or burns. Consider flexible protective cord covers that keep cats away from the cord.

Living Room


Make sure your house plants and flower arrangements aren’t toxic. You can find a list of dangerous plants by going to

Remote controls

Put remote controls away. “We touch food and then we touch the remote, and we don’t realize it might smell good,” says Dr. Royal. Dogs who chew on these can ingest small plastic parts or be exposed to battery acid.



Some people foods are toxic to pets, including onions (especially for cats), chocolate, coffee, grapes and raisins. To avoid accidentally giving your pets food that will harm them, clean up food spills immediately and don’t feed them table scraps.

Trash cans

Invest in covered trash cans and recycle bins. “People say, ‘But my dog never gets into the trash,’” says Dr. Royal. “But there could be that one time that there’s bacon grease on top of coffee grounds.”


Cats that like to jump on counters should be trained to avoid the stove and oven. Use a spray bottle to discourage them from exploring those areas.


Keep cleaning products stored away and use natural surface cleaners. “Cats and dogs lick the pads of their feet, so they can ingest the chemicals,” says Dr. Royal.

Learn more about your pet, PAWS Chicago news and the No Kill movement in PAWS Chicago Magazine.