Pets and your home
Thinking of welcoming a four-legged friend into your family? Here's how you can pet-proof your house and provide the best and safest home for your companion.
For those looking at moving house, or perhaps buying their first home, there’s one conversation that often comes up along the way: pets. Whether you’re a first-time buyer looking to start off your family with a furry friend, or you’re moving into a larger space which finally has room for the pet you’ve always wanted, buying or re-homing a pet is a huge decision that should not be taken lightly.
It’s true what they say – a pet really is a new family member, and the amount of time, love, patience and responsibility that comes with owning a pet should never be underestimated.
So, following International Pet Day on 20th February, we’re focusing on how you can make your new home not only perfect for you, but also for any four-legged friends you plan on welcoming. Whether your heart is set on loving a dog, a cat, a rabbit, a guinea pig, a hamster, or something more exotic, here are some simple yet essential steps for pet-proofing your home.
Above all else, your home must be a safe and secure environment for your pet.
- Dangerous items such as chemicals, small items that present a choking hazard, or foods that are harmful to pets, must be kept well out of reach. If you’re worried about your pet sticking their wet nose where they shouldn’t, put latches on cupboards containing these and always keep countertops clear when you’re not around.
- Keep windows closed when you’re not in the room, especially if your room is above ground floor. Curtain and blind cords should also be tied up and out of the way.
- To avoid the unthinkable, always keep your washing machine door closed and check inside before you put a wash on – a pile of clothes can be a tempting nest for a sleepy animal.
- Certain types of houseplants can be toxic to animals. Aloe vera, dracaena and sago palms are all popular houseplants that are dangerous to dogs when ingested, so do your research before buying a new plant if you have a pet.
- If you have an animal that can roam the house freely, give them at least two designated areas – such as a comfy bed, cosy corner or a crate - where they can go to relax and get away from the humans from time to time.
- Housecats will need litter trays that are regularly cleaned and located in a quiet part of the house, along with a couple of scratching posts.
- If there are any areas you don’t want your pets to have access to, establish these boundaries early on. If you have a dog, babygates are good for blocking off unsafe areas and when housetraining. On the flip side, do make sure your pet has plenty of space and access to several rooms.
- If you have a small animal that lives predominantly in a cage, such as a hamster, place the cage in a quiet room (rodents need their beauty sleep) at a constant temperature where they won’t be bothered by dust or chemicals.
No pet should be left alone for long periods of time, but for the times you do leave them you’ll need to know they’ll be happy on their own (and not wreaking havoc on your house!).
- Start by gradually increasing the time they’ll be alone and do this on a regular basis to help them adjust.
- Make sure they have everything they’ll need when you’re gone – plenty of water, food or a long-lasting treat, somewhere comfortable, some toys, and a temperature they will be comfortable in.
- Avoid any accidents in the house by walking dogs before you leave, and providing housecats with a clean litter tray.
- Dogs in particular can suffer from separation anxiety. There are many training practices to help with this, but a good place to start is giving them something to keep them occupied while you’re out, not making a big fuss when you leave and return, and rewarding them when they stay calm.
- If you want your house to stay clean, keep your pet clean! Regular grooming and the occasional bath (depending on the animal) will go a long way towards reducing shedding and transfer of dirt.
- Let’s be honest, a white suede sofa might not be the best idea if you have a dog. If you want a pet, bear this in mind when you’re shopping for furniture. Some fabrics are easier to clean, and won’t act like stain and hair magnets from the moment your pet sets eyes on them.
- Invest in some easy-to-wash lightweight throws for your sofas and chairs. Faux fleece does the trick perfectly - choose one that can go in the washing machine, and have a spare.
- Likewise, a cream carpet won’t stay pristine for long with animals around. With our Finishing Touches you can select a floor that’s easy to clean and won’t leave you tearing your hair out while you attempt to vacuum up theirs.
- For dogs, a designated cleaning station can be invaluable. Keep old towels by the back door or utility room so you can pounce as soon as they come in. And, if you don’t have one, consider installing an outside tap so you can hose down those muddy paws before they make it inside.
- Some types of animals will also need garden access, so do a thorough check to ensure your garden is completely secure and escape-proof before you bring your pet home.
- As with houseplants, certain types of garden plants and flowers can be toxic to animals, so do your homework and make sure there’s nothing that could make your pet poorly when ingested. Keep thorny plants to a minimum, too.
- For the sake of your pets and your lovingly tended garden, fence off any flower beds that you don’t want trampled and ponds that you don’t want them getting into.
- While it may not be for everyone, artificial grass is an increasingly popular choice in new homes and many types are pet-friendly. It’s also relatively easy to clean with disinfectant and water – another reason to invest in an outside tap. Check with the manufacturer beforehand to see whether it would be compatible with your new companion.
While these are some basic tips, be sure to carry out thorough research from trusted organisations such as the below before you bring a new pet into your home.
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