Got some four-legged friends at home? Many people don’t think about their pets when designing or refurbishing their homes, but there are some simple things you can do to make your home more comfortable for them as well as for you. The more your home is pet-friendly, the happier your animal friends will be.
Here are some tips so that you and your new friends can make the most of your moments together.
Take a dog’s eye view
Go around your house to check for potential hazards for your four-legged friends. One of the best ways to do this is to look at everything from their perspective. You don’t have to crawl all over your house. However, you can look around at what’s close to the ground to check for the following:
Potential choking, suffocation, or electrocution hazards. This could be things like uncovered wires and electrical cords, window treatment cords, etc. Keep wires covered and cords unplugged when not in use.
Poisonous substances or harmful foods. Don’t leave your food (especially chocolate, which is toxic to dogs) or medications within reach of your pets. Anything hazardous to your pets should be in a locked cupboard or at enough of a height that they can’t reach. And remember that intelligent pets can use just about anything as a ‘ladder’ if they know where the treats are kept!
Trash. Keep trash in pedal-operated or hidden bins, so curious pets don’t go foraging for goodies. You can also keep food odors down by sprinkling a bit of baking soda into the trash and using a lid that fits tightly.
Plants. Many common plants are poisonous to dogs and cats. The most common houseplants to avoid are poinsettias, philodendron, and mistletoe.
Check this list of the most poisonous household products from the RSPCA.
Some of the most dangerous foods for pets are:
- chicken bones (they can be chewed into shards)
- fruit seeds and cores (choking hazard, plus some seeds contain cyanide)
- grapes and raisins (can cause kidney failure)
- coffee grinds and chocolate (caffeine is toxic to pets)
- gum or other foods containing xylitol (can cause liver failure)
- nutmeg (can cause damage to the central nervous system)
Give your pets their own space
Pets are creatures of habit, and they appreciate having their own space where they can feel safe and take ownership and comfort.
If you have an elderly pet, he or she will appreciate a space on the ground floor. If your pet needs to access areas that are up steps, consider putting in a Chasing Tails ramp for easy access.
Place litter boxes away from food areas and in a place that is private but not too isolated. Cats enjoy litter box cabinets, which help keep your house cleaner and afford them some privacy.
Consider giving them a pet fountain with fresh water readily accessible.
A comfortable bed is also essential. You can put a t-shirt or other clothing item that has your smell in the bed for your pet to feel your presence.
If you have a dog that loves going outdoors (and what dog doesn’t?), you could create a ‘dog mudroom.’ Use an existing mudroom, laundry room, or entryway to keep supplies for your dog. And if you can, incorporate a dog shower to clean that mud off before it hits the rest of the house!
Consider their well-being when you’re not there
If you’re not home for most of the day, you’ll want to do what you can to make sure your pet is comfortable and secure.
Leave your pet with sturdy toys that won’t break or can’t be chewed into small pieces that could be a choking hazard.
If you know that your pet is curious, consider blocking off a safe area with a baby gate.
Make sure you leave windows shut. Cats fall out of windows more often than you might think (vets call this High-Rise Syndrome). If you need your windows open, make sure you have screens that are securely fitted. Window guards are not enough, as cats can easily fit through the bars.
You’ll also want to keep your toilet lid closed. Not only does this prevent possible poisoning, but toilets are a potential drowning hazard.
Some pets get anxious when their people are out all day. Try having soft, gentle music playing to help calm them.
These tips should hopefully enable you to make the most of your four-legged friends!