Pet Safety and Home Renovation
Your pet's home is your home. As stressful as a renovation is for you, it's even moreso for your pet. Get advice from the pros on how to make home projects easier on Fido and Whiskers
Some contractors flat-out refuse to undertake a job if there is a pet in the house. Television pet expert, Marc Morrone, co-owner of Parrots of the World in Rockville Centre, New York, understands why. "You don't want the contractor to be hampered in the job because he's upset or annoyed by a barking pet or having to make sure he doesn't open a door because there's a cat behind it. A pet is not the contractor's responsibility and if you think there's going to be a problem involving your pet, more than likely there will be."
Planning for a renovation job must take into consideration its effect on a pet. "Renovation is stressful for the humans who fully understand what the turmoil is all about," says veterinarian Karen Halligan, author of Doc Halligan's What Every Pet Owner Should Know. "Imagine what it's like for a pet that has no idea why its world is being turned upside down." Pets thrive on routine and when that routine gets disrupted, adds Halligan, they sometimes act out by going to the bathroom in inappropriate places, displaying aggression, hiding or running away.
Is it any wonder? Pets have a much keener sense of hearing than we do so they are especially sensitive to loud noises, says Halligan, and since most pets have a smaller lung capacity than humans, they are also more sensitive to noxious odors or fumes that can sometimes even be fatal. "If you are having a loud, extensive, and invasive renovation done, the best solution for your pets," advises Halligan, "is to remove them from the home." If that is not an option, Halligan offers this advice:
Have your pets, including birds, fitted with a microchip to aid in recovery if they flee your home. This is one way to ensure that if your pets escape they will be returned to you. Dogs and cats should be wearing collars with current and legible identification on them. One of the biggest issues we see is an escaping pet that ends up lost forever or is fatally hit by a car.
Have all familiar toys and bedding available to the pet and play soothing classical music or turn on the TV to help drown out any construction noise. Be sure to check on pets often and try to stick to their regular feeding and walking schedule to give them some semblance of their normal routine.
Make an appointment for your pet to see the vet for a complete checkup prior to the renovation. A pet that is masking signs of illness will become stressed, causing symptoms to develop. It's best to detect any underlying problem prior to the construction. If the pet is vocalizing, hiding, or showing behavioral changes such as aggression, accidents in the house, lethargy, coughing, not eating and any other obvious sign that your pet did not display prior to the renovation, take your pet to the vet right away.