Similar to child proofing a home before a baby starts crawling, it’s very important to ensure that all safety hazards are addressed around the house before allowing a pet to free roam. Pet-proofing the house should even be done if they are only let out temporarily in supervised areas. This applies to all types of pets, from the usual indoor cats and dogs, to the more exotic ones, like parrots and ferrets. Some of the most common hazards include cleaning supplies that are left down, toxic plants and standing bodies of water. However, there’s an everyday necessity that poses an even bigger threat to our pets that often lurks undetected around our homes because it’s easy to overlook.

Common Causes

In 2008, 47% of electrical fires that occurred in residential buildings were related to the wiring inside the building. We use electricity to power the bulk of our household appliances, from our stoves to our refrigerators. Unfortunately, the heat generated from our appliances, dangling wires and open outlets are a very real threat to our pets. For example, the cords that go to the TV, and all related devices, are very tempting for a cat to chew on – regardless of its age. If your pet is able to chew through the wire, then they will be at risk for severe burns or even electrocution. In addition to posing an electrical hazard, a pet can easy strangle themselves if they get tangled up in a mess of multiple cables. Additionally, if a pet can squeeze behind the refrigerator or stove, they can easily partially dislodge the cord from the outlet, causing damage to both appliance and themselves in the process.

One approach is to try removing all of your electronics out of the room. This will require you to wire all of your electronics together with cables that are hidden behind the wall, out of the reach of your pets. When moving your AV equipment to a closet, you will probably need an IR extender so you can continue controlling your electronics which are now in a different room. When extending HDMI cables, remember HDMI is guaranteed to only go 15ft. An HDMI repeater will help you push the signal to go up to 100ft farther.

Wire and cord management technology has really reached new highs. One popular way now to wire your house is to use ultra flat cable with adhesive backing. One popular iteration of this is the adhesive speaker wire which can deliver all of your sound through flat wires that can be discreetly painted over or hidden under a carpet or floor board. Even regular cables have protection now. Critter Cords offer a sweet-scented, protective cover for your cables which deters pets from chewing them.

Safety Precautions

It’s very important to be aware of all the electrical hazards inside the home, for both your pet’s sake and your own. If a pet is allowed to damage any of the wiring or cables around the house, they can potentially start an electrical fire. One of the easiest ways to pet-proof a house from electrical hazards is to start by gathering all loose, exposed wires together with a twist tie so that they aren’t as tempting to play with. After they have been gathered together, exposed cords, cables and wires can be placed inside of an appropriately sized piece of PVC pipe to further minimize the allure of playing with them. In addition to making sure there aren’t any wires and cords left exposed, it’s also very important to frequently check for bite marks on all cables around the house so that damaged ones can be discarded and replaced before they create a further hazard.

Another way to make sure harmful materials stay out of the reach of your pets is be implementing some kind of cable organization system. For instance, Banana plugs are a great way to make sure your speaker wire is terminated and securely connected to your speakers and receiver equipment.

Teaching Your Pet

In conjunction with concealing wires, cords and cables so that they aren’t enticing to play with, it’s also important to take the time to train your pet not to play with them. For example, positive reinforcement training is very effective in this scenario. Additionally, bitter sprays and deterrents can be applied to the surfaces that you don’t want your pet to go near. In the case of cats, a citrus based spray is usually enough to keep them from chewing on something. If a small animal, like a bunny, ferret or guinea pig, is going to be allowed to roam in an area that has cords, making a loud noise if they go near the cables is usually enough of a deterrent to teach them that it’s off limits. One of the best ways to help prevent a pet from chewing on wires is to make sure they always have an appropriate toy to play with at all times.

Emergency Aid

On average, the bill to treat an animal for electrical shock will cost between $500-3,000. If a pet does get a cord wrapped around their neck, it’s important to remember that they will be very scared. Consider having another adult help hold the animal down while the cord is unwrapped so that they don’t create further injuries to themselves by struggling. Any electrical injuries, like burns on the mouth from chewing through a cord, should be immediately treated by a veterinarian. All wires need to be carefully moved away before touching an animal that has received an electrical burn; these should not be directly touched. Instead, use something wooden to move them away.

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