What They Could Bite, Chew, Eat, Swallow

Electrical cords can be fatal and are one of the household hazards pets face
Electrical cords can be fatal and are one of the household hazards pets face

While most of us believe the outdoors is a more harmful environment, we often overlook the household hazards pets face. And this leads to another comment that remains a complete mystery to me. Adults who have young children are very focused on keeping them out of harm’s way. In contrast, though, when it comes to the companion animals in their life, their safety is regarded in a rather different light.

What I’m focusing on here is animal safety issues indoors where there are definitely areas of concern that need attention. Think for a moment about human food waste, medications, indoor plants, and so on. These are just some examples. And, there are quite a few more to consider when we share our home with dogs and cats.

Hazards Inside Your Home

Other hazards facing pets at home are related to destructive chewing. Dogs love to chew (and swallow) all kinds of stuff, especially when they are ignored or left alone for extended periods. In addition, they typically get into mischief when they become bored. They will ingest children’s socks, the filling inside pet beds, small pieces of jewelry, hand soap (deadly)…

Canines are usually highly food-motivated and if anything edible is within reach, they are unlikely to resist the temptation. They will go where their nose leads them. Rip open a packet in a storage shelf and binge, take what’s on a table, surf the kitchen counter, even dip into the waste food bin. It may smell appetizing but it could be very toxic, for example, chocolate.

Felines are naturally curious and find weird hiding places they frequently get stuck in. Many are attracted to feathers and tinsel as well as plants and flowers, and nibbling any part of them must definitely be discouraged. In addition, some cats are extremely adept at opening drawers and cabinets and can also binge on food and treats.

So, as we continue to the next part of this article, you’ll see tips on what to be aware of and how to act. Because our four-legged companions don’t realize the consequences, it is up to us to prevent all types of indoor-related animal safety issues.  Especially when they are unaccompanied. 

Watch Out, Take Action

Chew, rip open and possibly ingest: this behavior can cause intestinal obstruction. If whatever it is cannot be removed by induced vomiting or elimination via the rear end, surgery may be necessary.

  • discard all soft, stuffed toys that have been ripped open
  • throw away all rubber, plastic and bone items that have had bits chewed off
  • remove all bedding that has been split open leaving the stuffing exposed
  • put away toys with feathers and tinsel after supervised use 

A seasonal note: Given the chance, some cats will play havoc with Christmas trees and decorations, so be prepared!

Chew: electrical cords. They can cause a fatal electrical shock.

  • wrap the cord with tape or aluminum foil to discourage your pet it if has shown a tendency towards this type of behavior

Eat: indoor plants and flowers in a vase. Cats seem to be attracted to them but beware as some are toxic.

  • put them in an area of the home where your kitty doesn’t have access

To Sum Up

Both indoors and outdoors, we are responsible for our pets’ wellbeing. And with the examples I just laid out, it just makes good sense to expect the unexpected!

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe! 

If you’re concerned about your pet’s reaction to a specific incident, here are the American Red Cross norms for temperature, pulse and respiration:


Hopefully these two dogs also have microchips since one pet ID isn’t enough to get them back home
Hopefully these two dogs also have microchips since one pet ID isn’t enough to get them back home

Did you know that one pet ID isn’t enough when you face the odds of never being reunited with your dog or cat if it gets lost? Yes, it’s true. Here’s some of the data which will probably shock you.

First it shows that an estimated one in every three pets will go missing at some point in their lifetime. Then it gets worse. Less than 20% of dogs and 2% of cats will ever be reunited with their human family. Did you expect to read this or were you surprised?

Now let’s analyze what steps pet parents can take so that the chances improve.

One Identification Option

The first stop that most “owners” of a new puppy, kitten, adult dog or adult cat make is their local pet supply store. They want a visible identification for their recently acquired companion. So they buy a blank ID tag and use the retailer’s engraving machine. The instructions are really easy to follow. You type in the pet’s name, a contact phone number and anything else of importance.

That, of course, is a start, but what’s better than one pet ID? Two pet IDs! And here’s why. Let me ask all you pet parents this. Does your pet wear its collar and tag all the time? By that I mean all the time it is outdoors AND all the time it is indoors? Possibly not. For that very reason, the point I’m trying to get across is that a dog or a cat can “escape,” run off and go missing from any location, including the home.

A Second Pet ID

As I just mentioned, if your pet has a collar and ID tag but isn’t wearing it, one pet ID isn’t going to be enough to get him home. So now let’s look at microchips and scanning.

In recent years, the practice of microchipping pets has seen a significant surge because of one indisputable fact. Pet guardians now realize they have a far better chance of finding their pet if it has a chip rather than solely relying on one visible ID tag. Collars often get pulled off and tags can become detached. 

Remember, microchip databases can be accessed 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Furthermore, it is usually possible to have a pet scanned at any time by going to an animal hospital during regular office hours. Also, emergency animal clinics are open at night-time, weekends and on holidays.

To Sum Up

Very obvious but often forgotten, it’s important to keep all ID information updated, particularly after moving to a new address.

And, to summarize, be responsible and take precautions. Protect your pet by using BOTH a visible ID AND a microchip ID. Because now we know that one type of identification alone just isn’t enough.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

More must-read articles in this category:

All the steps to find a missing pet

Pet guardians forget that dogs have wild instincts and can easily run off

Chip scan 24/7/365 to get a missing pet back home

Also, if you’d like to read about the safety concerns of domesticated cats that are allowed to roam, please visit


Whether water comes from a bowl or drinking fountain, well-hydrated pets definitely stay healthier. Photo credit: TrainSimFan
Whether water comes from a bowl or drinking fountain, well-hydrated pets definitely stay healthier. Photo credit: TrainSimFan

As we all know, without water there is no life!  Besides, we can then logically conclude that well-hydrated pets stay healthier. In fact, just like us, our companion animals need it not only to stay alive, but must consume this precious liquid in the right amount. That’s because adequate hydration is an absolute necessity to help protect against illness and disease.

Hydrating Naturally

Water is a vital commodity that regulates body temperature, transports nutrients via the bloodstream, and eliminates waste and toxins. It also supports the organs (including the skin) and assists in every single one of the body’s complex functions.

In the wild, animals need water to maintain their basic body functions and stay strong to survive. They obtain it mostly from the different kinds of foods that they eat. In the case of carnivores, this comes from their prey.

Similarly, adequate hydration boosts pet health. Certainly, the dogs and cats that share our lives should be hydrated to a large extent by the food we give them. However, very often they are not. A diet of dark meat, chicken and fish has an abundance of moisture whereas it is obviously lacking in dry food.

How Much Water To Drink?

In order to be well-hydrated, most dogs should drink between half an ounce and 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight daily.

And when it comes to cats of average size and weight, adequate hydration translates to between 5 and 10 ounces of water per day.

However, there are exceptions. Some pets require greater quantities than these.

  • puppies and kittens
  • toy breed dogs 
  • brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds of dogs and cats
  • senior dogs and cats
  • pets with certain medical conditions

Kitties Are A Little Different. But Who Knew!

When they are thirsty enough, kitties will drink from a water bowl. However, take another look at the photo at the top of this page. As you can tell, felines much prefer the constant trickle of this vital liquid when it comes from a pet water fountain.

To Sum Up

Pets that are well-hydrated generally stay healthier longer. So, if you are drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, then kudos to you. Now, you need to ensure that your companion animals are getting the amount that’s best for them, too.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

For more must-read articles on drinking water, check these out.

Water for pets, and water for us:

The best water bowls:


If you don’t know why retractable leashes aren’t safe, you might want to read this article
If you don’t know why retractable leashes aren’t safe, you might want to read this article

When I mention to a new client that I do not use them, they wonder why retractable leashes aren’t safe. So I tell the pet parent that they are misused, they can break and, in fact, they may cause serious injury. 

The bottom line is that, 99% of the time, handlers are clueless of the risks involved when they use these “flexi” leashes to go walkies. So, it’s hardly surprising that one of my major pet peeves is that too few pet guardians use leashes that are unretractable.

To learn more about this topic, please take a look at the examples and explanations below.


Any leash that has a reach of around 30 feet is not meant for regular dog walking. And it is especially inappropriate if used where there is traffic, no matter how light. The person involved just doesn’t have proper control and is allowing a potential safety incident to occur. So, in situations like these, yes, retractable leashes are harmful.

Nevertheless, on a positive note, this kind of leash can be a very good tool for obedience training in a wide open space. In fact, that was the only purpose for creating them in the first place. Most people don’t know that.


Anyone who has been using a retractable leash for a number of years will tell you that the spring mechanism can malfunction. When that happens, it will either not extend or not retract. Now think about this for a moment. If the thin cord or the flat nylon strip snaps, you have a dog on the loose. And, not only that, the leash can boomerang back to hit the person holding the plastic handle.


Another reason why retractable leashes aren’t safe is because of injury. If any part of the leash gets wrapped around the human’s leg, it can cause burns or cuts. Also, the dog on this particular leash, as well as other dogs, may be at risk of injury, too, if they become entangled.

Another harmful scenario is when the human suddenly prevents the leash from extending. Or when it is allowed to spool out totally and the moving canine suddenly stops in its tracks. This frequently results in neck wounds and throat injuries as well as damage to the spine.

The 99 Percent

In my experience, 99% of “flexi” leash dog walkers are clueless risk takers. When not used for their original intention, retractable leashes have harmful consequences. Here are some examples which, unfortunately, I have seen with my own eyes.

  • A dog that has not be trained to walk correctly will pull because it knows it will always be given more leeway.
  • The plastic case is bulky, you bend over to pick up his business, you fumble, and you drop the leash. It’s dragged along the ground and makes a noise which scares the dog as it runs faster to get away from the noise, totally traumatized.
  • You’re distracted and forget to click the spool tight. Your dog sees a squirrel and takes off…
  • Still distracted, you’re still talking on your phone. However, this time your dog is walking 12 feet behind you, and you have no idea what he’s up to.
  • Your dog is 6 feet ahead of you, turns the corner and comes face-to-face with an unfriendly canine. An altercation begins, and you’re unable to control your dog.

To Sum Up

By all means, go ahead and use a sturdy, well-constructed retractable leash when you are training your pup. Otherwise, stay away from them altogether and stick to the safer option, an unretractable leash. And, do make sure that it is appropriate for the breed and size of your four-legged companion.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

Would you like to read about head collars, also known as gentle leaders? If so, click here