Dogs and cats alike can be chewers. The reasons pets gnaw on things such as electrical cords can be as different as, well, dogs and cats. Reasons can include stress, boredom or favor for the texture of the rubberized cord between their teeth. Some cats attack power cords as if they're prey. You could eliminate the danger of this potentially deadly habit by unplugging cords when appliances and electronics aren't in use -- but that's not terribly convenient. Practical solutions include making the cords inaccessible, making them less appealing, giving your pets an unpleasant association with electrical cords, and providing alternatives to chew on.
Prevent pets from chewing on electrical cords by eliminating or reducing access to them. Covering cords with cord protectors can be helpful, but they don't typically cover the full length of a cord. The better alternative are ones made specifically to protect cords from pets. They're made from stiff, thick medical tubing that's been treated with a pet-safe product that tastes awful. Covering cords with tape may or may not work. Consider running cords through PVC pipe or cardboard tubing. Dr. Bob Sharp advises readers of Country Living to make cords inaccessible for chewing by wrapping them in tin foil, bubble wrap or double-sided tape. You can buy wall-mount clips that hold power cords of pets' reach.
Smart critters that they are, dogs and cats usually need only one taste of something nasty to keep them from putting it in their mouths again. Coat your electrical cords with something unpleasant such as lemon juice, mouthwash or a bitter spray made especially for the purpose of repelling pets. Sometimes just a whiff of the deterrent is all that's necessary to deter chewing. Until they dry, liquids can get on anything the power cord rests on, so place a paper towel or rag under the cord when you apply a deterrent to keep the deterrent from transferring to other items.
Startling your pet when you see him heading for his favorite cord will distract him and will create a negative association with chewing on the cord. Start out with loud verbal warnings such as shouting "No!" or "Aaaack!" If that doesn't work, move up to blowing a whistle or shaking a can half-full of coins or rocks. A quick blast of cold water from a spray bottle or squirt gun will do the trick, too, as might lobbing a stuffed toy or throw pillow toward your pet's general direction, not directly at him.
In addition to discouraging your pet from chewing on cords, give him an alternative object to chew on. Doing so will redirect his chewing behavior to something safe to chew on and will help relieve boredom, if boredom is the root of the problem. Rubber toys made specifically for dogs or cats have a similar texture to electrical cords and should give them the same satisfaction without the risk of danger. If your pet is reluctant to transfer his chewing obsession to a toy, try ones that hide a treat, or smear them with something tasty such as peanut butter or tuna juice.
- The Humane Society of the United States: Stop Your Cat From Chewing Electrical Cords
- The Humane Society of the United States: Cat-Proof Your Home in 12 Easy Steps
- Country Living: How Do You Stop Cats from Chewing Wires?
- DogChannel.com: Ways to Redirect Problem Chewing by Your Dog
- CablesTiesandMore.com: Chewsafe Cord Protectors