Do you have a home filled with dogs, cats, and maybe some other non-human domestic companions? Gosh, that sounds like a friendly home! Is it a pet friendly home, though?
If there are pets in your home, we hope you've already taken precautions to keep them safe, both inside and outside.
We suspect that some of these precautions were ones you had to learn the hard way.
In the following paragraphs, we'll make suggestions and help you figure out what other measures you might take to keep your furry (feathered? scaly?) housemates away from harm.
Pets Chew, Claw, Dig, and Otherwise Destroy Stuff
Deal with it!
Any good pet person knows better than to get too attached to personal possessions, especially furniture and footwear. Not being attached to possessions doesn't mean you shouldn't protect your pets from these habits and train them not to do them, though.
A leather shoe, for example, has been treated with toxic leather-conditioning chemicals and various dyes. Making it a habit to put your shoes and slippers on an unreachable shelf or in a closed closet can save your dog as well as your footwear.
Cats scratching your expensive couch or the carpeting on your stairs is probably harmless for them and might actually be beneficial since it helps cats shed the dead layers of their claws and "mark their turf."
It doesn't benefit your home, though, so you need to provide alternatives such as tall scratching posts or cat trees and teach them to use these for scratching instead of your home furnishings. Catnip spray on the scratching objects can help.
These are a few examples of ways to make your home pet friendly. Let's start getting systematic now.
Want a Pet Friendly Home? Think Like Your Pets
They say that, for millennials, their dogs can drive home-buying decisions. So, the need for pet friendly homes should only increase from this point.
As one pet expert puts it, "Over half of all homes have pets living in them, but animals are still an afterthought when it comes to home improvements." It's not just home improvements, either. It's about how you set up your home as it is.
If you're an experienced pet caregiver, you're probably already familiar with your pets' behavior. You know that a dog, cat, or even a smaller pet can choke on or be electrocuted by an appliance cord that's within easy reach.
You surely also have experience with pets eating things that should be off-limits, such as medications or small objects. Did you know, though, that grapes, onions, and garlic, and several other "human" foods are toxic to cats and dogs?
They don't know this, though — and most of these foods look and smell pretty tasty to your pets. A hungry cat or dog might climb onto the kitchen counter, pry open cabinets, dig through the trash, or anything else that gets them to the food they want.
What You Should Do to Keep Your Pets Out of Harm's Way
Quick answer: think like a pet to make it impossible for your pets to get to items they aren't permitted to have.
You will need to:
- Install child locks on your kitchen cabinets and don't leave dangerous foods or medications on the counter.
- Keep your trash in a pull-out drawer, the garage, or any other place where your pets absolutely can't get to it.
- Keep electrical cords inaccessible by wrapping any extra length. You should place the appliance flush against a wall if possible, with the wrapped cord affixed to the back. If the appliance is movable, store it in a closet.
- Keep any small items that a pet could swallow in secured drawers.
We're pretty sure our list doesn't include a lot of risky things pets do. So you should be sure to add your own pet's (or pets') unique thrill-seeking behaviors to it.
Create Appealing Items and Spaces for Your Cats and Dogs
Pets, especially cats and smaller animals love to have their "retreat" spaces. If you don't create these for them, they'll discover them on their own in places like inside the clothes dryer, a heating duct, a sink, or some other place that feels comfortable.
You could think of creating spaces and distractions for your pets as small DIY projects—maybe using available or inexpensive materials. Others might be medium-sized projects, such as building a climate-friendly doghouse in your yard.
Simple DIY Projects
Here are some possibilities that use found or recycled materials. You probably have some of the materials in your home already.
- A bed made from an empty cardboard box with the top cut out (the kind that doubles as a display case in a store) with used pillows inside
- A cat-scratching board or post made from scrap lumber and carpet remnants or fibrous rope
- Lots of homemade toys to keep pets busy, such as string toys and catnip-filled socks or scrap fabric for cats or fetch toys for dogs
- An old side table (legs shortened as appropriate) with bowl-sized holes cut out of the top—for an older dog or to protect cats' food from a hungry dog
There's really a lot you can do to renovate your home on a budget.
Projects on a Grander Scale
A "big" pet friendly home-remodeling project can involve a lot of time, effort, and resources. Are you ready? If so, keep reading
One pet friendly home remodeling project is assigning a room or part of a room to be the "pet room," in whatever way you might conceive it. For example, you might create a pet play and feeding room, with a sink for freshwater and quick clean-up.
If you want your pets to sleep there, make sure it is well-heated and has plenty of soft bedding for everyone. A pet-accessible toy box is a good idea, too, as long as you're prepared to keep putting toys back inside.
This room might also have shelves for climbing or an elaborate playscape for cats to climb and hang out on.
Along with the doghouse, a practical and necessary outdoor project for a dog household is fencing the yard and making sure to seal any gaps under the fence or that you've placed a barrier at the top to keep larger dogs from jumping over.
The projects you undertake depend on your creativity, familiarity with your pets, insight, and budget.
Small Indoor Pets
So far, we've mainly discussed dogs and cats. They are, after all, the most common household pets. There are other types of pets, too, though—often with very different needs than cats and dogs. In this section, we'll discuss some of these species.
Rabbits are cute pets, and many people choose them over cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals. Rabbits need a lot of care and attention, though. Among other things, like puppies, they'll chew everything in sight.
You need to create a space exclusively for your rabbit — whether that means a dog crate or pen or an entire room. If you have other pets, we'd recommend a separate room if you can manage it. Your other pets might frighten the rabbit.
Your rabbit will also need mental stimulation. You might consider making a cardboard castle for it to play in and chew on. What could make a bunny happier than this!
Rodents include rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, chinchillas, squirrels, and several other small furry animals people have as pets.
With these pets, the first order is to care for your own safety. One reason many rodents are considered pests rather than pets is that they carry germs and can make you sick if you don't take proper precautions when handling them.
You also need to keep them in appropriate enclosures, so they don't get lost inside your house. And if you have cats, remember what their instincts tell them to do with rodents in the house.
While birds can be fun to watch and play with, they're also fairly delicate creatures. You need to keep them away from numerous objects and substances that might poison or injure them. A lot of birds can fly around your house if they aren't caged!
Birds also like heat and humidity, so you probably will need to adjust your comfort level a bit. Plus, it goes without saying that you need to keep your bird(s) out of harm's way if you have other pets.
Fish are pretty easy to care for, except for the occasional tank cleaning, which can be a headache. If your tank is covered, you and your other pets can sit, watch, and be mesmerized by them for hours on end.
After reading about these small pets, you probably can think of reasons why dogs and cats are so much more popular as pets. They're just easier to care for!
Time to Play With Our Pets
Wow, there's a lot of home rearranging, remodeling, and general upkeep involved in having pets and maintaining a pet friendly home, isn't there? The smarter and more agile the pets are, the more we need to protect them from some of their own antics.
When it comes to pets' wear and tear on your home furnishings, you need to remember that you can always replace those. The love of your pets is invaluable, so gently encourage them to try new pastimes, but never get angry with them for following their instincts.
We hope you've enjoyed reading this. If you're in one of the metro areas we serve, let us know when you're ready to buy or sell a home. We're prepared to help you every paw step of the way!