PICTURE THIS FAMILIAR SCENE: You walk into the living room and find your dog chewing on something (again). You ask him what he has in his mouth (like he’s going to answer you!). On most days, he’s chewing on your favorite pair of shoes. But this time, an electrical cord is in his mouth. Being cute and cuddly won’t help him now. He may have put himself in danger of injury or death and created a shock or fire hazard in your home.
Spending a little time petproofing your home will help you avoid a pet-related accident. If you have a pet, check out these tips to protect your furry friend from electrical hazards:
Try to block access to exposed electrical cords by placing furniture so pets can’t gnaw on cords. If you can’t do that, consider wrapping or encasing cords; most hardware stores sell flexible safety cables and PVC. If the pet is interested in electrical cords, check the cords frequently for fraying and replace any damaged cords immediately.
Electrical shock is not the only issue with wires; your pet might get tangled up and injured in multiple cables that are close to one another.
Discourage chewing by coating electrical cords with a pet deterrent spray. Make sure pets have plenty of toys to play with to distract them.
Do not allow your pet to hide or sleep behind your computer or TV equipment where numerous electrical connections are housed.
Make sure pets don’t play around lamps with exposed bulbs, which can become hot or cause a fire hazard if knocked over.
Appliances near sinks and bathtubs should only be plugged into outlets equipped with ground fault circuit interrupter protection in case an active pet knocks an electrical appliance into the water.
Invest the time in training. You can train a dog to stop chewing the couch, you can train a cat to keep off the counters, and you can train your pet to stay away from wires.
Outdoors, if you have a fenced area for your dog, make sure any underground electrical or cable lines there are buried at appropriate depths, especially if your dog likes to dig.
If you think your pet has been shocked, approach him cautiously to avoid further stressing and startling him—and to keep yourself safe if the wire is still live. Visit a veterinarian immediately. Electrical shocks are life- threatening and should be treated as emergencies. Some symptoms aren’t easy to detect just by looking at your pet.
THOMAS NICHOLS is Safety Director at Jackson Energy.