A recent Harris poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans consider their pet to be a part of the family. And just as parents child-proof their homes when their little one reaches the age of a toddler, they'll need to prepare their homes for their dog or cat as soon as they bring it home.

With this in mind, here are some basic ways homeowners can go about the home inspection process so that they can pet-proof their residence.

One of the good things about having a young child at home to care for in addition to a playful pet is that some of the same resources they use to keep their son or daughter safe they can use for their cat or dog. For example, dogs will often scratch at doors in an attempt to get outside or make their presence known. But childproof gates can solve this problem, shielding doors from a cat or dog's claws.

The kitchen is full of items that pets won't think twice about rifling through. Waste baskets and rubbish containers are usually in this part of the house, and they're often loaded with pieces of paper, leftover food and toiletries that four-legged friends love. Be sure to keep these cans and baskets covered with something so that they can't find their way inside. Baskets that have a top - one where it can be open and closed by stepping on a pedal - are particularly useful.

Keep electrical cords hidden

The living room and family room has its own variety of belongings that pets view as toys. DVD players, high-definition television sets and stereo system may be used by humans for the what they produce, but pets like the individual parts that they're made up of, especially those that provide them with electricity. Ensure that all cords are bundled together and aren't hanging out, enabling pets to paw at them or bite through them.

Plants may be great to enhance the overall appeal and look of a home, but they, too, can serve as another way for pets to get into trouble. If possible, either remove plants from the home while they're young or remove them from the floor where they can be accessed. Pet care experts say to be especially mindful during the holiday season when poinsettias become available. These can be deadly to pets, so it's wise not to purchase them.

According to the American Pet Products Association, nearly 65 percent of households in the U.S. have at least one pet. Dog and cat lovers can ensure that their favorite pooch or feline is safe by keeping their homes by eliminating potential sources of danger.