We all know the importance of keeping yourself and your children safe during a home renovation. But have you considered how your project may affect the health of your pet? Home construction can put your beloved animals at risk of choking on building materials, breathing in toxic fumes, or becoming anxious by all the unusual activity in their home.
Before you update your house, use these strategies to make sure no pets are harmed during your home maintenance or renovation project.
Introduce your pet to contractors
One of the first things you can do to ease anxiety is to introduce your pets to the new humans who are going to be occupying their home for the duration of the project. Ask your contractors if they have experience working around pets and if they're comfortable with allowing your animal(s) to remain in the home while they are working. If they are comfortable with the presence of your pets, set up a time for the two to get acquainted.
This meeting time will help your pets become familiar with the scents and voices that they will experience over the duration of the project. It will also give you an opportunity to observe any behaviors that may become a problem, such as aggression or fear towards strangers.
Allow the contractors to be friendly with your pets if they’re both open to the idea. You can facilitate good will by providing treats and toys for the contractor to give to your pets and make the meeting friendly and engaging. This will do wonders for preventing anxiety for your pets and will even ease any concerns the workers may have had.
Keep your pet’s normal routine
The clutter, noise, and change in routine can be unsettling for your pet. In order to keep some sense of normalcy, try to keep your pet’s schedule as best you can. Walks, feedings, bedtime, and playtime should all be done at relatively the same time as you always do them, so your pet knows they aren’t being neglected.
Ask your contractors for an outline of when each part of your project will happen so that you can plan for any disruptions to your pet’s standard routine. This will allow you time to plan the proper adjustments.
If you know you'll be time-restricted, consider hiring someone to tend to your pets during the busier days of the renovation. This will ensure that your animals are well taken care of during the process and let you be more hands-on when needed.
Give them their own space
It is hazardous to let your pets run about while construction is taking place. To reduce the risk of injury for your animals and your contractors, set aside a room or area of the house where your pets can be safely secluded from all the action. This can also prevent your pet from being overstimulated by loud sounds, unpleasant smells, and disarray. Give them new toys and treats to reward them for staying in this area.
Consider taking your pets outside on days when the project may be extremely noisy, stressful, or dangerous for them. This is especially recommended when there may be unavoidable irritants and toxins, such as paint and sawdust.
There are certain materials that your pets should be removed from the premise entirely if found during a home renovation project especially if you have dogs. For example, asbestos is a known carcinogen that can create health problems for humans but it can also be detrimental to the health of your animal, such as lung cancer.
If your home contains asbestos or if your renovation project requires the removal of asbestos-containing materials, then you should have your pets stay at a different location until your home is free of asbestos-dust.
Similarly, formaldehyde is a toxic chemical that can cause deadly diseases when a person or animal is overexposed. Renovation projects that involve pressed wood, new fabrics, and other building materials. You should not allow your pets to be in the house until these toxic fumes are gone. Not doing so puts your pets at risk of skin, eye, and throat irritation, breathing problems, and long-term effects such as ulcers and cancer.
Inspect the damage
Never assume that just because your contractors have left that their mess is gone, too. It’s not uncommon for building materials and debris to be left behind once the project is done. If not cleaned properly, your newly renovated space can become an extremely dangerous environment for your pet to be in.
Take a lap around the renovated area and look for anything that could pose a threat to your pets. A few hazards you'll want to keep an eye out for are:
Wet paint, cement, or other liquids
Remove all leftover materials before allowing your pet into the area and be sure to inspect any areas of your home or yard where there may have been spillover. If there are tools or materials that are too heavy or dangerous for you to get rid of on your own, be sure to get in touch with your contractor for them to come and pick them up ASAP.
Visit the vet beforehand
The best way to notice any changes in your pet’s health is by knowing what the starting point is. Before the job begins, take your fur-covered (or scaled or feathered) loved ones to the vet for a check-up. This will allow you to get a true picture of how healthy your pet is and help you spot any changes.
Keep an eye out for any minor or major changes that your pet may exhibit. Take them to the doctor if they:
Have a persistent cough
Have difficulty breathing
Loses their appetite
These symptoms, along with other behavioral changes, may be a sign that your pet was injured during your renovation. Also, keep a well-equipped first aid kit just in case there is an accident that you have to quickly address.
By following these tips, both you and your pets can safely enjoy your brand-new space!
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.