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Pet-proof your home

How to Pet Proof Your House
Choose your decor with care – and both you and your pet will find your home a far more relaxing place to live in.

    • For pet-friendly flooring, choose hard-wood floors such as oak, natural stone or laminate. Go for lighter tones which – contrary to what you might expect – won’t show muddy paws so much.
    • Avoid deep-pile, sisal or loop-pile carpet or rugs as claws can easily snag on these. Bear in mind that stains left by pets will be more evident on natural wool carpets – man-made alternatives will wear better (and the look and quality is great these days). 
    • Look for stain-resistant upholstery material (some sofa manufacturers offer pet-protective fabrics). As with carpets, man-made fabrics are often easier to clean and wear better, or try wipe-clean leather. Again, seek out materials with tight weaves to avoid claws catching – hair will also be easier to remove. But be warned: velour, chenille and velvet-like fabrics are fur magnets!
    • Removeable, washable chair and sofa covers come into their own with pets – or make good use of throws, and pop them in the laundry every week. 
    • Be prepared to clean up after your pet regularly. You can make it less of a chore with a light, cordless vacuum cleaner – many on the market now are specially designed for pet hair removal. Keep a pet hair remover brush handy, which can be swept over clothing and furniture
    • Puppy-proof your home by setting some ground rules early on. If you don’t want her to go upstairs, for instance (she’ll love your bedroom, because that’s where she can always smell you!), install a stairgate, and keep certain rooms out of bounds.
    • Manage temptations: invest in cable protectors that deter chewing, keep loo seats closed, and don’t leave food lying around. 
    • If you can, have a designated space to clean or even shower your dog before she’s allowed in the house after a muddy walk, and keep the area well-stocked with dog towels – and treats to make it less of an ordeal for her!
    • Take stock of your home and remove potential dangers – from toxic plants to loose items and even ornaments and furniture that could fall if knocked against and harm your four-legged friend. This advice is essential for not only pet-proofing your home but for keeping it safe for them.

Pet dilemmas

Devon-based vet Nigel Taylor answers pet owners’ questions on keeping their furry friends happy – and under control.

‘We bought a puppy in lockdown, and we’re worried that once “normal” life resumes he will miss us, and wreak havoc. What would you suggest?’

Nigel says: ‘In an ideal world, a dog should not be on its own – they can experience separation anxiety if left alone for too long, and then are more likely to scratch, gnaw and chew. If there’s no alternative, aim to get your pet dog slowly used to the prospect of being home alone by going out for varying lengths of time. Going forwards, have a contingency plan just in case you are delayed getting home: an emergency dog walker, for instance. If you buy an indoor kennel to pet-proof your house, make sure it’s a really generous size and comfortable with a warm bed, lots of toys, food and water. Also leave the radio on as company. Care is important for every pet animal, but dogs can be especially sensitive and require nurturing.’

‘My partner and his cat are moving in with me. She is adorable, but has ruined his furniture with her sharp claws, and I dread her doing the same to mine. Is there anything we can do?’

Nigel says: ‘To cat-proof your furniture, you could try distraction techniques such as toys and scratching posts – buy several and put them in different places. However, her new habitat will also be unfamiliar – and her own smell will be missing – so that could cause her stress, which in turn might cause more scratching. Aim to be around as much as possible so your familiar presence reassures her, and try something like Feliway – a plug-in product which releases a calming aroma. Otherwise, to pet-proof your home, remove or cover up your most valuable items of furniture, until your partner’s cat is more settled.’

If you are considering getting a new pet, you might want to add accidental damage to your home insurance and take a look at our pet insurance.

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