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How to pet-proof your house

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They say that curiosity killed the cat, so take measures to protect your pets from harm around your house. Here are tips for pet-proofing your home.

Kitchen and bathroom
Try looking at your house from your pet's level to determine what kinds of temptations and dangers are lurking.

Place potentially dangerous items like medications, cleaners, laundry supplies and chemicals on high shelves or in cabinets with childproof locks. Other hazardous items include rat poison, mothballs and fabric softener sheets. Food should be kept out of reach, even if you don't think it will do your pet any harm. Petfinder.com warns that coffee grinds, chocolate and cigarettes can also be poisonous for your pets.

Make sure you keep your trash can covered or stowed away in a latched cabinet both in the kitchen and in the bathroom. Keep the toilet lid closed and the toilet paper rolled up. If you have a kitten, check the dryer before you turn it on to make sure it didn't leap in when you weren't looking.

Sandy Robins, a pet lifestyle expert and author, warns against lighting candles, especially when they are on top of table clothes.

"A cat may attempt to climb up the tablecloth and bring the burning candles to the floor, creating a fire hazard for the entire household," Robins says. "A dog can do this too."

Living room and bedroom
The American Humane Association advises keeping all dangling wires, whether they are from telephones, televisions or electrical wires, out of reach so your pet does not pull or chew on them. Don't forget about the cords connected to curtains and blinds.

Keep toys, games and shopping bags off the floor. Thread, string and the like can be very dangerous for pets. Don't leave craft supplies, clothes or shoes out in the open. Buttons can cause serious harm if swallowed. Heating and air vents should also be covered at all times. Do not keep out lotions or cosmetics in your bedroom on surfaces that your pet can reach. 

Be mindful of where you put hanging and potted household plants. Check out the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website to see lists of toxic and nontoxic plants.

Outside and in the garage
Aimee Gilbreath, the executive director of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit the Found Animals Foundation, says to keep your yard and garage free of items, like sharp tools and nails, that may harm your pet.

"Even items that look harmless to a human may cause injury to your pet," she says.

Also make sure you check for oil, gas and other liquids that may leak from yard equipment or your car. Gilbreath says antifreeze in particular may be tempting to your pet because it is sweet-tasting, but even the smallest amount can be lethal.

Keep your pet out of the yard for at least 24-hours after any kind of chemical treatment, Gilbreath adds.

Look around your garage for small spaces where your pet could hide or get stuck and block them off. Be aware that your pet may find a place to hide inside or under your car.

Petco has a checklist for dog-proofing and tips for cat-proofing your house to help you make sure you have covered all of your bases so you can keep your pet safe.