Dog on couch

Pet-proofing your home: keeping your furry friend safe and secure

Monday , 28 August 2023 by Jonathan Zouch

Pet owners up and down the country have been making claims for hundreds of thousands of dollars due to dogs and cats swallowing fishhooks, Nerf gun pellets and delicious-for-humans-but-toxic-to-dogs raisins. So, Southern Cross Pet Insurance is calling for pet owners to make their homes safe and secure for furry friends, in much the same way parents do for their young children.

Pet-proofing your home is essential to prevent accidents and keep your pet healthy and happy. This includes anything from locking away poisonous substances, which for pets can include every day human foods, to preventing access to sharp objects, electrical cords, and more.

The process also gives you peace of mind knowing your home is a safe and secure environment for your furry friend, whether you’re at home or not.

Former vet nurse and now Sales Manager at Southern Cross Pet Insurance Kerri Murray said, "last year Southern Cross Pet Insurance saw over 800 claims, totalling more than $850,000, resulting from pet’s ingestion of a foreign object, or in other words, getting their paws on something they shouldn’t”.

"By identifying and addressing potential hazards and risks, you can create a safe and secure environment for your pet to thrive in.”

Some close calls where pet insurance came in handy

Finnegan the Wheaten Terrier gave his family a fright when his appetite got the best of him one Christmas. Finnegan discovered his Granny’s famous Christmas cake on a side table and ate the whole thing, prompting a frantic trip to an emergency vet. Raisins are toxic to dogs and can cause multiple organ failure. Luckily, the vets were able to induce vomiting and Finnegan brought up three dozen of the booze-soaked fruits. The visit cost the family $380, making for a particularly expensive Christmas that year.

Meanwhile, Mia the Whippet managed to defy all odds in retrieving a chocolate bar her owner thought was stowed away safely. The handbag where the chocolate was stored proved no match for little Mia, as she was rushed to the vet requiring charcoal and fluid to flush out her system. Most of us know how toxic chocolate can be for dogs, especially those the size of Mia.

Then there’s Baxter the Burmese who took an inordinate interest in Nerf gun pellets, nicking them from the neighbour, not once but twice, with his ‘Mum and Dad’ ending up with two vet bills totalling $5,000. While it’s probably a bit much to expect your neighbours to protect their belongings from your pets, it’s still a good thing to look out for in your own home.

Tips for pet-proofing your home

Secure hazardous items: Store items such as cleaning supplies, medications, and chemicals in a locked cabinet or out of your pet's reach.

Cover electrical cords: Cover or hide electrical cords to prevent your pet from chewing on them and risking electrocution.

PawsOff! the human food: While many New Zealanders are aware chocolate is toxic to pets, a survey by Southern Cross Pet Insurance showed 40 per cent of New Zealanders do not know that raisins, currants and sultanas are also unsafe. Likewise, 30 per cent are unaware walnuts and macadamias are unsafe, and over 50 per cent have no idea avocados represent a threat. ‘Avo’ toast should be off the menu. Southern Cross Pet Insurance teamed up with the New Zealand Veterinary Association to launch the very first PawsOff! food safety label to help owners understand what’s not safe to share with your little furry one, so if you are unsure check out the website

Keep rubbish secured: Keep rubbish secured with a lid to prevent your pet from eating spoiled or toxic foods (as mentioned above). It will also prevent your pets from getting into rubbish that could choke or poison your pet!

Check for choking hazards: Remove small objects that your pet could swallow and choke on, including toys, jewellery, and rubber bands. Ensure that these items are put out of reach, that includes the bench hoppers who try pick up any last crumb left on the kitchen bench.

Protect your furniture: Cover sharp edges and corners on furniture to prevent injury to your pet. A safe trick to stop puppies chewing on wooden furniture is to dab clove oil, which you can get from any pharmacy, on potentially affected parts of chairs and tables. It will discourage them and makes for a nicely fragranced house for a while!