Pets are an important part of every family, so give them the protection they need with a checklist of household items to avoid.

Is your pet part of the family? If your answer is yes, you probably won’t be surprised that you are in the majority, but you might be surprised at the size of that majority. According to a 2011 Harris poll, 91 percent of pet owners consider their pet part of the family. With every passing year, our pets are gaining status as critical components in the makeup of our households. But are those households safe for our pets? Use our PUT UP checklist to be sure!

Potential choking hazards should be inaccessible to pets.

Put away anything small enough for your pet to choke on or small enough to swallow, but too large to pass through the digestive system. Items that can be ripped into pieces, such as stuffed toys and tennis balls, should be picked up when you are not present to supervise.

Unsanitary practices should be discouraged.

No matter how much you clean, it just isn’t a good idea to let your pet drink out of the toilet bowl. Get into the habit of keeping the lid closed. Likewise, litter pans should be kept out of the reach of other house pets.

Toxic items must be stored in areas that are inaccessible to your pets.

These include dangerous plants, chemicals, medications and harmful foods. Assume that everything your pet can reach, no matter how unappetizing it might be to you, may end up in your pets mouth. The ASPCA website ( has a comprehensive list of those items commonly found in homes that are poisonous to pets.

Unsafe items for mouthing or chewing such as electrical cords should be inaccessible to pets.

Home improvement stores sell inexpensive covers for cords that can easily be painted to match your decor. However, some decorative covers like those made of cloth will not provide adequate protection for your pet, so opt for heavy plastic or metal covers that are not easily chewed.

Personal items should be kept out of your pets reach.

Of all the dangers that pets face, the times we become too distracted to continue caring for them are by far the most lethal. Since pets can find great comfort in chewing on things that hold the scent of a loved one, such as shoes, glasses, remote controls and even underwear, it is our responsibility to keep that from happening by storing those items safely out of our pets reach.

Pets can find great comfort in chewing on things that hold the scent of a loved one.

Once you have completed the PUT UP checklist, not only will your home be safer for your pet, it will be tidier as well, providing yet another reason why having a companion animal is good for us!

Jennifer Arnold is The New York Times best-selling author of Through a Dogs Eyes and In a Dogs Heart. She is the Founder of Canine Assistants, a nonprofit organization that teaches service dogs to assist children and adults who have physical disabilities, seizure conditions, or other special needs. For more information on Arnold and Canine Assistants, please visit or