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Quick Tips

How to Reduce Pet Damage in Your House

Pets can be cute and friendly, but even the most well-behaved ones can cause damage within your home. Learn how to limit damage from your four-legged friends.

Bulldog laying on carpet

For most of us who have pets, they’re not just animals – they’re part of the family.

But part of owning a pet is dealing with the damage they can do to your home. They don’t mean to pee on the carpet, scratch the sofa or cough up the occasional hairball, but they can be destructive and repairing the damage they cause can be costly. The best thing to do is mitigate damage by training your pet and providing them with the facilities and stimulation they need to be happy and healthy.

Provide Scratching Posts and Pads

If you have cats, you know how they love to scratch. Scratching isn’t a bad habit cats have; they have a biological need to do it. It helps them sharpen their claws by molting the outer layers of keratin. Scratching also helps cats stay in shape as a form of exercise and gives them the chance to mark their territory through scent glands in their feet.

To minimize scratching damage to your furniture, and even to your walls and trim, provide scratching posts for your cat. Some cats prefer an upright post, while others prefer a horizontal scratching pad. Cardboard scratching pads are cheap and last a long time. If your cat is scratching forbidden surfaces, redirect it to the scratching post or pad. A loud, firm “No!” or “Hey!” combined with physically moving the cat to the desired scratching surface should suffice. Most cats can be trained to scratch a post or pad this way, but pheromone sprays, wipes and diffusers are available to encourage them, if necessary.

Protect Your Furniture

If you’re dealing with an especially stubborn pet, you can protect your furniture with clear plastic pet-scratch guards that affix to the corners of your upholstered furniture. Cats prefer to scratch the corners of a couch or chair, so while you’d think covering just the corners wouldn’t be that effective, it actually works surprisingly well.

Use Enzymatic Cleaners to Deal with Accidents

Cat or dog urine odors aren’t just unpleasant for human residents. They can also confuse your pet, making him think that it’s okay to keep going in that spot. If you’re wondering how to get rid of cat pee smell or how to get dog smell out of carpet, you need to buy an enzymatic cleaner from your local convenience or hardware store. These cleaners contain bacteria that feed on the ammonia and other organic material in pet waste and vomit to effectively and permanently clean odor and stains.

Don’t Let Your Pet Get Bored

A bored dog can be the cause of numerous home repairs. If your dog is chewing on furniture or biting holes through doors, it’s most likely bored. Give your bored dog more exercise and devote some time each day – at least 15 minutes – to training it. Exercise will help your dog expend his nervous energy, so he’s too tired to eat your sofa when he’s at home – just make sure you don’t overheat him. Teaching your dog tricks will give him the mental stimulation he needs and will help the two of you bond.

Deal with Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is another reason why your dog might freak out and start destroying stuff while you’re out. Making a big deal out of greeting your dog when you come home can exacerbate this behavior. To help break your dog of separation anxiety, train him by going through the leaving routine – putting on your shoes and coat, grabbing your keys and going out the door – and then coming back in just a few minutes later. Ignore your dog’s excitement; instead, wait to praise him when he shows less excitement. Eventually, he’ll realize that your leaving is no big deal because you’re coming back.

Housebreak Your Dog

Taking the time to properly housebreak your dog when he’s a puppy will cut down a lot on indoor messes and prevent the damage he can cause to your home over time. Even housebroken dogs will occasionally have an accident if they’re left inside too long, however. Bladder infections or gastrointestinal distress can also cause indoor accidents, so you should always seek veterinary care if a previously housebroken dog starts having accidents.

If a housebroken dog starts going inside and the vet rules out sickness, he’s probably acting out of spite – perhaps he’s expressing his displeasure about the acquisition of a new pet, the birth of a new baby or a change in your schedule.

Make Sure You Have Enough Litter Boxes in the Right Places

If you have cats, you should have at least one litter box per cat, especially if the cats don’t get along. If one cat is bullying another, he might stake out the litter box and refuse to let the victim use it. If that’s the case, put your multiple litter boxes in different places – your bully cat can’t be watching both boxes at once. Make sure the boxes are in out-of-the-way places; cats like peace and privacy when they do their business. Scoop the litter box daily. Cats prefer to use clean, or at least clean-ish, litter.

If your cat is going outside the box, see the vet – he could have an infection of some kind. If the vet gives him a clean bill of health, try using a different kind of litter; some cats dislike scented litters, for example, and won’t use them. A pheromone diffuser near the box could help ease any anxiety the cat might have about using the litter box. If your litter box is the kind with an entry flap, try removing it; some cats don’t like them, and some also don’t like covered boxes, so taking the top off altogether might help. If nothing else works, try a cat-attractant litter – these contain pheromones that appeal to cats.

Pet damage can really do a number on your carpets, floors, furniture, and even your walls and trim. But, by taking a few simple steps to prevent pet damage to your home, you and your furry friends can all continue to live together happily.

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