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12 smart tips to keep your pet safe

Our pets are our family. Just like anyone with that bond, we cherish our cats, dogs, and smaller animal friends and we want to protect them from accidents and harm. So, we’ve gathered tips for how to reduce dangerous situations for you and your furry family member. Here are BCAA’s top 12 things you need to know to keep your pet safe.

1. Toss out old, cracked pet toys

Broken and jagged old pet toys can be quite a threat to your pet’s safety. So regularly check your pet’s toys to look for wear and tear. If you see a toy that’s ragged, cracked, or splintered, throw it away, so it doesn’t cut your pet’s mouth or become a choking hazard.

2. Do an all-fours inspection of your home

To understand what can be dangerous to your pet, take a pet’s-eye-view of your home. Think like your pet—and get down on all fours—to have a look around. See what areas your pet can access by climbing or jumping. Here are some hazards you can prevent:

  • Watch for hazards like choking, strangulation, electrocution, or suffocation. Keep window blinds cords short, cut through cord loops, and unplug or cover your electrical wires and cords.
  • Don't leave human foods and medications where pets can get into them.
  • Latch cupboards shut to keep your pet away from fertilizers, pesticides, antifreeze, and pest traps.
  • Ensure your indoor plants are pet-safe, e.g., lilies can cause kidney failure in cats, and other toxic plants for cats are aloe vera, amaryllis, mums, and poinsettia. Here are poisonous plants for cats and poisonous plants for dogs. Before you bring a new plant home, consult the ASPCA's list of Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants. You can also try hanging these plants from ceiling hooks away from shelves or counters that your cat could jump from.
  • Keep your toilet lid down, especially if you use automatic bowl cleaners, which are poisonous to animals. A closed lid also eliminates the risk of drowning.
  • If you live in a high rise, be sure you install sturdy window screens.
  • Store plastic bags well out of reach.
  • Always close your appliance doors.
  • Make sure all your kitchen and bathroom bins have closable lids that are paw-proof.
  • Give them their own space so they won’t crawl into open dryers.
  • Check out This Old House’s tips for how to make your home pet friendly and Purina’s tips for cat-proofing your home, which recommends you keep your cat’s litter box as clean as possible to avoid transmitting toxoplasmosis disease.

3. Curtains

Cats like to climb, so watch the kinds of curtains you hang. Your cat’s claws can get snagged in a loose weave and make them injure their muscles as they try to free themself. For maximum safety, use vertical blinds. Just make sure the pull cord isn’t a loop. Cut it to make two strings, so your cat won’t get it caught around its neck.

4. Plastic bags and buckets

Cats sure like to sleep inside baskets, buckets, bags, and cardboard boxes. Keep lids on all your buckets to keep your cat from climbing inside. And never leave open plastic bags where your cat could get trapped and suffocate.

A cockapoo puppy looks up patiently at his owner

5. Train your dog with basic commands and obedience

Wherever you take your dog, distractions and dangers can occur. To ensure your dog is a good citizen and keep them out of harm’s way, teach them to obey specific basic commands. Here are 21 essential dog commands to keep your puppy safe.

6. Keep your dog leashed in public

Even if your dog is well-trained and shows no signs of bolting or aggression, always keep them leashed when you’re out for a walk. A leashed dog is safe from speeding cars, sudden noises, and squirrel distractions that could cause you to lose control. With your dog firmly leashed, you can keep them away from people (or other animals), who may be afraid of dogs. Here’s how to choose the right lease for your dog.

7. Protect your pooch with a GPS tracker

More than one million pets go missing every year in Canada. If your pet runs or walks away from home, it’s incredibly stressful for you, your family, and your pet. Fortunately, there are two ways to quickly find your pet if it gets separated from its home. First step: register your pet with the BC Pet Registry via a microchip/tattoo (your vet can do this for you). It’s the best way to identify your pet if it ends up in a shelter.

Secondly, get a wearable GPS tracker that you attach to your pet’s collar. A GPS tracker lets you locate your four-legged friends in a web browser or your smartphone. Here are the best pet trackers and GPS collars for your beloved pet.

Feeding the cat

8. People foods you shouldn’t feed to your pet

There’s a reason that human food is for people, as many human foods are toxic for our pets. The ASPCA has prepared this extensive list of foods you should never feed your pet. The banned-foods-for-pets list includes: alcohol, candy, chocolate, coffee, milk, avocado (bad for birds, rabbits, and goats), grapes/raisins (they can cause kidney failure in dogs), nuts, onions, garlic, yeast dough, salty snacks (no potato chips!), sugar substitute Xylitol, and raw/undercooked meat, eggs, and bones.

In addition to bad-for-cats-foods like grapes, onions, garlic, and chocolate, keep your beloved cat away from Aspirin and Tylenol.

Veterinarian examining dog in office

9. Your pet needs dental care, too

Just like people, pets can suffer from gum disease, tooth decay/disease, and tooth loss. And just like humans, regular brushing keeps your pet’s teeth healthy. We recommend regular dental cleanings from your veterinarian and regular teeth brushing at home. Your pet’s oral care includes brushing their teeth (they won’t do it themselves), mouth rinses, and giving them dental treats (here are four great dental chews for dogs and some of the best dental cat treats). Your vet is a good source of information about brushing techniques and dental care.

10. Prepare a pet First Aid kit

Be prepared for injuries by assembling a First Aid kit for your pet. You can even buy a ready-made Pet First Aid Kit from our pet-loving friends at the BC SPCA. Get their complete kit, or their smaller, easy-to-carry Pocket Kit for walks and hikes.

Retriever at peak of A-frame

11. Mental health is important, too

Dogs need mental and physical stimulation every day to stay fit and healthy. For maximum health, dogs benefit from two exercise sessions a day. And don’t forget mental stimulation! Teach your dog tricks, commands, and agility exercises. Short training sessions are best, mixed with play, rest, and rewards.

If your pooch could use a healing holiday (just like you), check out our ideas for great spring pet getaway activities. Once you’re back in town and returning to your office, here’s how to prepare your dog for going back to work.

cat receiving head scratches

12. Protect them with BCAA Pet Insurance

Our pets give us love, laughter, companionship, and so much more. Protect their health and well-being and get peace of mind with BCAA’s Pet Insurance in partnership with Pets Plus Us.

Our plans cover your pet for injuries like broken bones, accidents, and illnesses like diabetes or cancer. You’ll get services like:

  • Coverage for pet hospitalizations, consultations, exams, and medications
  • Emergency 24-hour poison control hotline
  • Alternative therapies and holistic treatments like hydrotherapy and naturopathy
  • Medical devices
  • Behavioural therapy for diagnosing and treating abnormal behavioural problems in your pet

Better yet, BCAA Members get 12% off pet insurance*, so get a quote on BCAA’s Pet Insurance in partnership with Pets Plus Us today.

*BCAA Members with a Basic, Plus or Premier Membership plan receive a preferred rate of 12% off. BCAA GO Members and Non-Members receive a preferred rate of 7% off. For full details, please visit
All pet insurance plans have limitations and exclusions. Specific products, features, rates, and discounts may vary by province and territory, eligibility, and are subject to change. Medical Conditions that are noted, symptomatic or diagnosed prior to enrollment, or during a waiting period are pre-existing to Coverage and not eligible for reimbursement. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. This advertisement is an outline only; policy terms and conditions 'User Guide' will prevail. For all terms and conditions visit: BCAA trademarks are owned by, and use is authorized by, the Canadian Automobile Association. Pet insurance is sold and administered (including with respect to claims) by PTZ Insurance Services Ltd. (PTZ), a licensed insurance agency and is underwritten by Northbridge General Insurance Corporation (Northbridge). The insurance transaction is between the customer and Northbridge. B.C.A.A. Holdings Ltd., dba BCAA Insurance Agency, receives commissions from PTZ for referrals of potential customers for pet insurance. PTZ receives fees and commissions from Northbridge for sales and administration of pet insurance. © 2022 All rights reserved. Pets Plus Us®, Pets Plus Us & Design and related words and logos are trademarks and the property of PTZ Insurance Services Ltd.