While they have their obvious differences, toddlers and pets are more alike than we admit. They both need lots of love and attention, are kept on a feeding and bathroom schedule, have temper tantrums, and can find a way to get into almost anything.

We love our pets just as much as our children, so we want them to be safe. Parents child-proof their homes, so there is no reason to avoid pet-proofing your home when you decide to bring a new living creature into it. Some of it is just as easy as child proofing your home, but there are certain things unique to pets you should be aware of.

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If you’re thinking of bringing a new family member home, here are things you should do to protect everyone in the household.

1. Put Locks on Closets and Cupboards With Toxins

OK, this one’s obvious, but sometimes overlooked. Pets may not have the hands and fingers to open cupboards, but they have determination, force, and the smarts to figure out a way. There are so many ordinary household items that are dangerous to pets, from toxic cleaners to sharp utensils. The safest bet is to buy childproof items to put on doors, drawers and more to protect your pet.

2. Keep Your Trash Contained

When there’s any sort of food around, whatever you think will happen, will happen. And then some. Animals are more clever than we give them credit for, and if they catch a whiff of anything delightful (to them, not us) in the trash, they’re going to find a way to get to it. And as we know, the trash is no good place for an animal to get into. Keep your pet safe by purchasing a trash can with a latch or putting it in a cupboard with a lock on it. These are two very simple things you can do that will immediately ensure the safety of your best bud.

3. Be Mindful of House Plants

There are tons of plants that are harmful to animals – many are even your everyday houseplants. Just because it’s safe to be in your house, doesn’t mean it’s safe for every member of your family. If you have plants in your home, research which plants are safe for animals and which ones are not. If you have any that are the least bit toxic to animals, it’s time to say goodbye.

4. Safeguard Your Valuables

Even if you have the teeniest hesitation about leaving something out, put it away. Never assume the possessions you value are safe, as animals know way more than we think they know. Important paperwork should be filed away in a safe place instead of on counters. Shoes and dirty clothes should be put away – better yet, behind closed doors. (Even the best laundry baskets aren’t enough to ward off a dog with a love for underwear.) If a possession in your household means something to you, put it away.

5. Create a Special Play Room Just for Your Pet

If you have the space, give your pet a room that they can go nuts in. Fill it with toys and bedding to use while you are away. This can be a spare bedroom or your basement that they know is their “playtime” space. If your pet has their own room to play and in and spend time with their human, it will help with mental stimulation, so they won’t be as likely to get into things around the house. Prioritize playing with your pet in their “room” every day so they associate the room with positivity.

6. Put Away Small Objects

Just like a toddler – animals like to put everything in their mouths. This includes small objects they can easily choke on or get caught in their intestines. These can range anywhere from bobby pins to socks, travel-sized items and more. Socks and small pieces of fabric are especially important to put away because socks get tangled easily in intestines, which can be life threatening to your animal. Even if your pet comes through healthy, surgery for this sort of accident can start at $1,000 and is oftentimes much higher.

Taking care of a pet is a big responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and pet-proofing your home is just one part of making your pet happy, healthy and safe. If you love your pet, then taking these steps is all worth it for them.

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Image source: Anna Hoychuk/Shutterstock