Animal House: Easy Living Ideas for Pet Owners

Make residing with four-legged friends a joy with these pet-friendly solutions for your home.

By Jan Soults Walker

Like kids, pets do best in a home that's equipped with them in mind. These materials, modifications, and products reduce wear and tear and simplify life with animals in the house.

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TerraCotta Properties

Define parameters

If you're away for several hours during the day or night, some pets will feel more secure (and so will you) if they're limited to a room or two. When a door isn't available to close off the pet space, install a gate that swings open to ease passage for household members.

Include a pet door if you want your dog or cat to have access to the outdoors when you're away. One model uses programmable electronic ID discs that your pet wears. The disc controls your pet's access to the house while keeping unwanted animals out.

Make spaces comfy—and durable

Please your pet (and save your surfaces) with these tips:
  • Select smart flooring:  Durable, easy-care choices for pet owners include tile, vinyl, and linoleum. These resist moisture and scratches from pet claws and clean up easily with detergent and water.
 When selecting wood, look for ultra-durable finishes that can repel moisture and resist scratches. And always wipe up accidents right away.
  • Opt for extended carpet care: If you're choosing new carpeting, keep in mind that carpet fibers absorb pet odors, and stains can soak into the pad. Plan to vacuum carpet regularly and consider regular professional cleaning after six months. Some carpets feature a moisture-proof barrier that blocks pet stains from soaking into the pad.
 At least one carpetmaker has pet owners in mind: Stainmaster PetProtect carpet and cushion system resists pet stains, is color-safe, and cleans easily—even the fibers easily release pet hair so you can quickly vacuum it up. The special cushion below prevents accidents from soaking in to reduce odors.
  • Choose rugged seating fabrics: Furniture fabrics stand up best to pets. Select seating pieces covered in leather, microfiber, or sturdy upholstery-weight fabrics treated for outdoor use. Each of these options wipes clean and stands up to the wear and tear of pet claws. If you start with distressed leather or patterned fabrics, minor wear or stains won't show. One fabric, Crypton, repels stains, moisture, odor, and bacteria.
  • Provide a view: Choose a room for your pet with plenty of natural light, and introduce a pet bed for napping. Most cats and dogs like to see outdoors, so if a patio door isn't available for lounging around, select a room with a window and add a wide ledge or seat for whiling away the hours. (Read: The Magic of Window Seats.) Be sure to provide access to the view via steps or a low bench.
  • Get toasty. If you live in a climate where winters are cold, consider radiant heat beneath your floors. Your feet with thank you—and so will your pet.

Create strategic care stations

Pet Feeder Station by Grandin Road
  • Mind your pet's meal locale. Find a spot for fresh water and food where you are unlikely to trip over bowls. One option: Create a feeding station in a lower kitchen drawer that pulls out when needed. Likewise, store pet food in pullout bins with lids to keep food fresh and pests out. (This pet feeding station keeps everything in one stylish cabinet.) Also, consider placing vinyl or plastic mats under bowls so that your floors are protected.
  • Organize for fun. Provide a box or basket for pet toys so there's plenty of entertainment when you're away. Create another storage station near the family entry for holding leashes, collars, portable water bowls, and a few outdoor toys that you can easily grab when it's time to go outside to walk, run, and play.
Litter Box Enclosure by Designer Pet Products
  • Hide the litter box. Finding a spot for the litterbox—especially in a small home or apartment—can be a challenge. If your home doesn't have a laundry room, mudroom, or basement (all ideal locations for a litterbox), consider modifying a small cabinet or side table to conceal the litter box. You'll also find a variety of products available that do just that, such as this side table.

Be dirt-proactive

A little bit of regular home and pet maintenance can keep your space looking and smelling tidy.
  • Catch the dirt. When you can, brush and towel off your pet after outdoor romps before she comes back indoors. Put entry rugs at doors where animals come in and out to trap moisture and debris.
  • Maintain your pet's hygiene. Regular baths, nail clippings, and vet visits can keep her health and your house in tip-top shape. 
  • Clear the air. Keep your home smelling fresh with smart material choices and install an air purifier to filter out odors. Purchase a good vacuum and regularly vacuum up pet hair, dander, and debris.

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