Pets are more than a hobby; they're part of your family. And since the majority of homes in the United States have at least one pet, according to the U.S. Census, it's a good idea to plan around them as well as you plan for your family's needs. Whether you're looking to secure your home for current four-legged residents or you're about to welcome a new furry family member for the first time, here are some tips to keep your pets safe and happy in your house.
First things first: Pets involve a lot of extra stuff, so have a plan for that early on. You'll save a lot of time if you're not scurrying around when Fluffy is meowing for treats right away.
"When you bring a new pet into your home, you're going to want to think of new storage solutions to make sure you have space for all of their supplies," says Rachel Zepernick, Angi Home interior expert. "That can include a designated area to store all their toys, or if the pet is a dog, you may want to install a hook by the front door for easy access to a leash. For kibble and treats, consider buying airtight containers that can keep the food fresher for longer, keep pests at bay and prevent unwanted smells from your home."
Go through your house and try to think from the perspective of a cat or dog. What are the breakable items they might knock over? What about potentially harmful household materials, such as laundry detergent or cleaning solutions? Keep cords and medications well out of their reach as well. Make sure your household emergency kit has everything you'll need to care for pets for at least three days, including food and water and whatever specific medications they need.
Once your pet has settled in, keep cleaning in mind.
"Just like other members of your family, your pet is going to bring more mess into your home, so start thinking about ways to make it easier to clean and maintain the home," Zepernick says. "One way, for example, would be to switch to luxury vinyl flooring. These floors are scratch-resistant, they're long-lasting, and they're super easy to maintain."
Pets can be expert escape artists when sneaking out of the house. The best way to stop any would-be fugitive fur babies is to remove the desire in the first place, so you may want to consider having them spayed or neutered. This removes their instinct to search for potential mates. Make sure all doors, including patio entrances and pet doors, close securely and properly. Don't overlook the outdoors, either. Ensure your gate is secure and that a dog can't dig under the fence.
Despite your best efforts, your furry escape artist may still make it out of the door or yard. Put identification and your contact information on a collar, and consider microchipping them so shelters can quickly identify them.
Don't forget to give them someplace to go. Cats, dogs and other pets are naturally curious creatures who want to explore. Since you're forbidding them to get into the big wide world that so excites them, make sure they have fun, interesting places to explore in their house or yard.