As beloved members of our families, our pets bring joy, companionship, and sometimes a bit of mischief into our lives. Pet-proofing your home is a strong way to protect them while preserving the value of your home.
This post will explore practical tips and strategies to help you create a pet-friendly space that minimizes potential hazards and promotes harmony between your furry (or scaly or feathery) friends and your home environment.
How to pet-proof the inside of your home
Since your pet spends a lot of time inside your home, these indoor pet-proofing tips are very important.
Secure each room
Take a close look at each room in your home and do your best to remove or hide potential hazards.
In the kitchen, add childproof latches to keep your pet from opening the cabinets. Store chemicals and laundry detergent on high shelves if your pet has access to the laundry room.
Remember to cover any cords, like extensions and lamp cords, with protectors and provide your pet with safe chewing toys instead. Also, if you have knick-knacks or small objects lying around, make sure they're stored in pet-proof containers.
You should also secure a room with regard to the size of your pet. For example, if they’re a small critter, close off any tight spaces they may get into – such as under a couch or bookshelf.
Set up gates to prevent your pet from entering rooms they shouldn't.
Protect the furniture
Wear and tear on your furniture is normal, especially when a pet climbs all over it. Protect items with furniture covers and throws to prevent scratching and peeling. When you’re in the market for new pieces, opt for durable materials and stain-proof fabrics, like distressed leather or microfiber, as they’re easy to clean and even known to ward off odors. Avoid silk and suede furniture that’s flimsy and easy to stain or to snag on claws.
Secure any bookshelves, lamps, or other decor with anti-tipping kits to prevent your pet from knocking over or destroying them. Doing so will also keep any furry friends from being injured. If you have a feathered friend who likes to fly around, be sure to fasten elevated items like fans or towers.
Consider carving out space for your pet in areas you spend a lot of time in; you can include pet-specific furniture like a dog bed, cat tree, or scratching post. Such items can fulfill their instincts to lay down, climb, or scratch, keeping them away from your furniture.
Swap for pet-friendly alternatives
Plants can significantly impact your pet's behavior and well-being. Some can act as stimulates or even lower stress and anxiety levels, while others can be toxic and lead to digestive problems. If you enjoy keeping fresh plants and flowers in your home, it's important to research and buy pet-friendly plants.
For example, lilies are toxic to canine and cat companions, but spiderplants are not. You can visit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) database for more information on which plants are suitable for your pets and which ones to avoid.
When you want to paint the rooms in your home, be mindful of the products you choose, as some are better for pets than others. Since fumes from conventional paints are harmful to most animal friends, look for eco-friendly paints made of natural ingredients and free of synthetic chemicals. Pet-friendly paint should contain minimal to no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). VOCs often lead to lingering smells and emit gasses that can be dangerous for your pet.
Once you're ready to paint, keep your pet out of the room. When done, clean up and store away any paint products you used. If your pet gets ahold of your paint somehow and ends up eating it, contact your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately.
If you don't intend to paint soon but are unsure whether your walls have pet-friendly paint, keep an eye on areas your pet can access. Regularly access for chipping or peeling to ensure they won't ingest any.
The best flooring options for pets are scratch-resistant, easy to clean, water and stain-resistant, and offer good traction. Tile checks off all these boxes and is a popular option among pet owners. Other pet-friendly floors include luxury vinyl, laminate, bamboo, engineered hardwood, and cork.
Cork and bamboo are your best bet if your furry friend has allergies, as they limit VOCs and naturally resist allergy-causing substances like mold and mildew. As a bonus, they look great and can take any room to the next level.
If you want to protect your home's current flooring, consider leveraging carpets and throw rugs. It's important to note some carpets and rugs are made with harsh chemicals and easily trap dirt, which can cause respiratory issues for your pet. When buying carpets and rugs, choose a more natural option like wool.
How to pet-proof the outside of your home
Your yard may be your pet’s favorite place. After all, it’s where they can run, explore, and enjoy the fresh air. These tips can help you pet-proof the outside of your home and give you greater peace of mind when they’re hanging out in the grass, on your deck, or anywhere else
Strengthen fencing and boundaries
With a durable wooden, metal, vinyl, or chain-link fence, you can give your dog or cat more freedom and reduce their risk of running away. For cats, you may wish to consider a screened-in option like a catio instead of free access to the backyard. Additionally, you should section off any outdoor hazards you may have, like balconies, swimming pools, and HVAC systems. Your goal should be to ensure your pet cannot access hazard zones independently.
If you have a deck, make sure the balustrades or railings are sturdy, or add a cover to the railings for extra protection. For a pool, install a mesh pool fence to prevent pets from accidentally falling in when unsupervised. Stay away from floating covers as they can increase the risk of drowning.
Creating safe outdoor play areas for your pets can redirect their attention and keep them from wandering far; add fun features like a sandbox, tunnels, and obstacle courses. Adding a sprinkler system or splash pad is a relatively low lift if your pet likes water. Ideally, these areas will be shaded to keep them comfortable on hot days.
Adopt low-maintenance landscaping
Low maintenance, pet-friendly backyard designs are a lifeline for any pet owner with an adventurous furry friend. Such landscaping options reduce the need for constant upkeep and involve more durable plants and materials.
If you use mulch, opt for pine or cedar mulch, as these options are non-toxic and won’t harm your pet if they ingest it. Regarding fertilizers or weed killers, look for natural, pet-friendly products.
For pest control options, consider natural options, including organic fertilizers and companion planting, which involves planting certain crops close together so they can stimulate growth and repel pests.
Low-maintenance landscapes can help you maintain a beautiful outdoor area that can withstand attention from your furry friend.
Minimize outdoor hazards
Take a close look at your yard and identify any hazards that may be present. If you notice any large sticks or piles of leaves, for example, mow the lawn and clear your yard. This way, you can reduce the risk of fleas and ticks, which can be detrimental to your pet.
Regularly empty or replace any kiddie pools, bird baths, and other places with standing water that can bring mosquitos and, in turn, harmful diseases to your pets. Remove any tools or child toys that are lying around and can be dangerous for your pet. Store them in your shed or garage. If you have insecticides, fertilizers, and other hazardous substances for pets in easy-to-reach areas outside, store them in a secure cabinet or storage area. Finally, section off any outdoor firepits or kitchens to prevent accidents.
Pet-proofing is essential to protect your home and ensure the well-being of your beloved furry, feathered, or scaled friend. Following the tips above, you can help your pet lead the healthy, happy life they deserve while protecting a vital investment — your home.