Keeping pets safe and calm during a home renovation

It can be an exciting time when you make a much-needed upgrade to your home. You're finally getting that kitchen overhaul you always wanted, or putting on an addition to increase your living space.

Unfortunately, the process of improving your home can also be very stressful for your pets. Noise, unfamiliar people, and other factors can all be very alarming for your dog or cat. David Craig, writing for This Old House, says pets may become more vocal, aggressive, or incontinent while work is being done.

A renovation can also create more dangers for your pet. Colleen Williams, writing for Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, says a dog or cat may be more likely to run away, since the door is being opened more frequently and they may want to escape the noise. Pets can also be exposed to poisonous materials such as paints and cleaners or be hurt by sharp objects, falling items, or other hazards.

Take your pet to the vet before the project starts. Craig says it is useful to check for any underlying problems which may be worsened by stress during the renovations. You should also have a microchip implanted to increase your chances of recovering your pet if it runs away.

If you want to keep your dog or cat in the home while the work is taking place, try to minimize any nervousness they might feel. If contractors will be visiting your home, check to see if they can introduce themselves to the pet. Williams says a pet can quickly take a liking to the workers if they bring treats with them.

Some products are available to help keep a pet calm during the noisy process of the renovation. Dustin Devroy, president of Elegant Cabinets and Elegant Windows in Green Bay, Wisc., says these include jackets that are meant to provide a gentle, comforting pressure during a thunderstorm or other noisy events. Pheromone collars can also help calm down a dog or cat.

Keep your pet out of any areas with potential hazards. Anne Higuera, writing for the home design site Houzz, says temporary barriers can be used to keep the animals out of a work zone. Williams says you should keep lids on the containers for any toxic materials and clean up as much as possible to reduce the possibility of injury.

It is useful to keep your pet in a room as far away from the construction as possible to minimize the amount of noise they will experience. Make sure the room is stocked with food, toys, a bed, and other comforting items. It can also be useful to employ white noise, such as soothing music or putting the TV on in the background.

The disruption to a routine can be particularly upsetting, so should try to stick to the regular schedule as much as possible. Craig says this includes giving meals and taking the dog for a walk at their usual times.

However, you might also want to shift the routine slightly to get the pet away from the home during the noisiest part of the project. Morgan Contractors, a company in Towaco, N.J., says it can be helpful to take your dog for a walk before any workers arrive. This way, it won't get riled up by the sudden appearance of a group of people.

Give your pet some extra attention over the course of the construction. Keeping them active through frequent play, walks, or other activities can help them relax or distract them from the work being done on the home.

For long-term projects or more extensive work, it might be preferable to get the pet out of the home for awhile. Devroy says a boarding service or pet-sitter can be helpful in these circumstances. A family member or friend may also be willing to take in your pet until the renovations are complete.

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