More than 43 million homes have at least one dog in residence, and 37.7 million have at least one cat, according to the Los Angeles Times. What’s more, nearly all pet owners — or between 72% and 90% — consider Fido or Fluffy fully part of the family. Another third regularly let their pet sleep in their bed, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) reveals.
Even so, many of us do not necessarily think about our pets’ comfort when it comes time to remodel. Remodeling with pets and doing it without subjecting them to undue stress is entirely and completely possible with some planning and careful consideration.
That means before tackling home improvement projects — before scheduling an appointment with roofing contractors, for example — it is wise to do a little preparation first. Familiarize yourself with these tips and tricks to keep your pets safe and at ease.
1. Board Especially Anxious Pets
First and foremost, consider your pet’s temperament and do it honestly. Avoid assuming that he or she will be fine, only to have to call several different places in order to board them the same day.
Remember, home roof repair will likely entail a lot of noise. Contractors will be walking back and forth on the roof. There will be a lot of noise, and a lot of noise coming from an unfamiliar source. Chances are, your pet is not accustomed to hearing any clamor of disruptions coming from your roof.
Weigh the pros and cons. Will your pet be more stressed out if you board them or if roofers are walking in and out of your home?
If renovations will take days or even a full week, it may be wise to board animals during the process. Remember that there are all kinds of facilities to accommodate boarding needs when remodeling with pets. Having pets stay overnight does not have to mean keeping them in a cold cage or crate all day.
Doggy daycare, for example, typically comes with a fair share of amenities. Staff walk dogs several times per day. Plus, dogs may have a play area or playground, a dog park to roam, a pool, and a cozy bed to temporarily call their own. Depending on the facility, you may have even more options. Some doggy daycare centers offer puppy training or obedience lessons for the duration of your pup’s stay. Others give your dog a gourmet, nighttime treat and read them a bed story. Really.
Rest assured, many boarding facilities spoil cats, too! These upscale boarding facilities offer cages with calm lighting, working TVs, and miniature sofas to keep cats calm and entertained.
2. Ensure Proper Cleanup
Whether you are just putting in new plumbing or renovating an entire room, it is essential to prioritize cleanliness when remodeling with pets. Items and debris that may not strike you as hazards can be very dangerous to dogs and cats.
Dust, nails, screws, wood, splinters, and wet paint are just a few things to look out for. If possible, make sure to keep pets in a separate room until paint is completely dry. That will prevent cats from rubbing up against surfaces with wet paint and keep dogs from licking paint before it dries. Section off areas while contractors are working and sweep and vacuum thoroughly after they leave. Sweep stray nails and screws to prevent choking hazards, and vacuum dust to prevent inhalation.
If you have any large pieces of metal, jagged wood boards, or any other awkward or oversized debris remaining from your remodel, contact a disposal service about bulk or special pickup. With adequate notice, most will pick these items up right from your curb.
3. If You Keep Pets Home, Be On The Look Out For Signs Of Stress
If you choose to skip boarding your pet for the duration of home improvement projects, keep an eye out for any signs that your pet is unduly distressed.
First, remodeling with pets can be a challenge as it is sometimes difficult to predict noise levels and the likely disturbance from any given project or repair. For example, all burnishing tools are not created equal. Some are just about completely silent, and others make a considerable amount of racket. If circumstances end up being wildly different than you imagined, reassess the situation before proceeding.
If you are confident that your experience remodeling with pets can go smoothly with your pet or pets at home, keep an eye out for any of the following signs of stress. If you see any of these red flags, take action to calm your pup’s or feline’s nerves.
If your cat is hiding, refusing to eat, going to the bathroom outside of the litterbox, showing unusual signs of aggression, being excessively vocal, or grooming near-constantly, he or she may not be handling the stress of the situation particularly well. Panting, rapid breathing, flattened ears, and shaking may also be signs of trouble.
Watch for these telltale signs that your dog is stressed. A dog who is feeling exceptionally stressed out will avoid people and self-isolate, skip meals, become uncharacteristically aggressive, experience digestive issues, and/or sleep markedly more than usual. They may also refuse treats, pant heavily, tremble, or continually lick their nose and paws.
To help mitigate stress in cats during remodeling, keep their water bowls, food bowls, and litterbox or litterboxes in the same room as usual if at all possible. If that isn’t an option, move the items one at a time, several hours before contractors arrive. This will give your cat time to adjust to the change before introducing strangers and loud noises into the mix as well. Make sure your favorite feline has plenty of spots to hide if he or she wishes. If there are no suitable spaces around, get some cardboard boxes to put in the room. Finally, if your kitty is particularly prone to stress, consider purchasing a special diffuser to help keep them at ease. These diffusers are available at most vets and contain a natural, safe, and synthetic feline pheromone that soothes and calms them.
To keep dogs calm, make sure they have a favorite item with a familiar scent — a favorite toy or a security blanket will work wonders! Regularly check in with your dog and give them plenty of pets and attention. If remodeling gets especially noisy, use that opportunity to get out of the house and take your dog on a walk. A game of fetch can also be a welcome distraction during this time.
4. Keep Your Pet Inside
It may be difficult to predict just how anxiety-provoking remodeling with pets can be. Kitchen remodeling may entail plumbing repairs as simple as silently tightening pipe fittings to remedy leaks or garishly sawing pipes to make room for new fixtures, with the loud and jarring sound of metal grinding on metal. Take extra precautions to make certain your pets stay safely inside.
To keep cats calm and safely inside your home, designate a separate entrance for family members and contractors if at all possible. If it’s feasible, have contractors use the front door to move in and out of the house. Designate the backdoor for family members. For example, if you are installing new windows, glass contractors may be walking around with large panes of glass. Leaving the door open will be a necessary and inevitable measure for contractors to carefully and reliably carry glass panes into your home. Keep cats out of the way and closed off from the front rooms. Family members who will be opening the door and shutting it again can use the backdoor or garage door.
If you own a dog or dogs, consider crating them during construction and remodeling. Once again, if it’s possible to designate a few rooms for your pup during these projects, that is a great option, too. Make sure to seal or block off doggy doors to prevent stressed dogs from bolting out the door.
For both dogs and cats, it is important to make sure to microchip them. If you haven’t already, remodeling with pets is the perfect opportunity to ensure that your favorite furry friend is microchipped and all their microchip data is up-to-date. Microchips are a convenient and reliable way to identify and return your pet should they take off. Remember to update your pet’s microchip information whenever you relocate or get a new phone number. Unfortunately, one-third of pets go missing at some point in their lives and stress and anxiety can encourage them to wander off. Your pet is much more likely to be safely returned to you if they have a microchip. A microchip increases the chances of dogs being returned by 238% and cats being returned by 2,000%, according to Pet Finder.
5. Introduce New Toys And Give Pets Plenty Of Treats
To keep your pet’s mind off in-progress bathroom remodeling, don’t be afraid to spoil them a little. Now is the best time for a distraction.
In addition to comforting pets with a favorite security blanket or another item with a familiar scent, purchase a few new toys and treats to introduce to your dog or cat at convenient intervals during your remodel.
Purchase new catnip-filled toys for cats or breathe new life into old toys by placing them in a large Ziploc bag with catnip and shaking the contents until the toys are thoroughly coated in fresh catnip.
Purchase new toys for dogs to introduce slowly, whenever dogs appear especially anxious. Remodeling with pets provides the perfect opportunity for the occasional treat, like a raw meat bone or a rubber dog toy filled with peanut butter. Follow safety guidelines or ask your veterinarian if you have questions about giving your dog raw meat bones. “Most raw bones that have not been cooked are edible for dogs. Raw chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef bones are soft enough to chew, eat, and digest,” DogTime.com writes. To encourage your dog to chew slowly and safely, give dogs bones after meals if possible. Supervise your dog whenever he or she is chewing or gnawing on a bone, and discard bones that are gnawed-down. If there isn’t much marrow or soft tissue left for your dog to chew, there is an increased chance of the hard, brittle parts left splintering. Peanut butter-filled toys are safe for your dog as long as you avoid using any peanut butter with the artificial sweetener xylitol. Check the ingredients before preparing treats for your pup.
6. Be Mindful Of Toxic Fumes
A critical thing to remember when remodeling with pets is that dogs and cats have a much keener sense of smell than we do. If something smells pungent to you, chances are it smells even stronger to your pet.
Avoid leaving paints, varnishes, and stains out in the open around your pet. Let paint fully dry before giving cats and dogs the run of the house. Never use paint thinner or turpentine around animals — and do not let your pets near contractors using these chemicals.
Remember that power tools and chemicals, like drills and spray paint, may leave behind dust and other caustic irritants. Close doors and section off areas of your home where dust, paint and spray paint, varnish, and finish maybe. Keep windows open for ventilation and if contractors have an industrial-style fan to help circulate air (many do), encourage them to use it! Sweep and vacuum up after not only to remove any remaining dust, but also to clean up the stray glass, broken tiles, and nails.
According to The Independent, “Owning a pet increases your chances of being happy and successful.” Plus, “Pets bring laughter to six in 10 owners, and seven in 10 feel more relaxed in their company.” Simply, pets decrease stress, buoy our spirits, and even improve our physical health and promote longevity. Return the favor. Do your part to make sure your pet is as happy and healthy as possible.
Responsibly remodeling with pets takes some careful thought and consideration. Go through the guidelines above before you get started.