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Pet Proof Your Home Renovation

By Colleen Williams
June 19, 2017 • 3 min. read
pet proof renovation

Summer is the season to tackle most construction plans – the warmer and drier the weather, the easier it is for workers to work on deck repairs, landscaping, replace sidings, exterior painting, and other home improvement projects. While your home gets a little TLC, don’t forget to protect your furry roommates! Heavy tools, sharp materials, new people, smells, and noises all can contribute to accidents and traumas for dogs and cats.

What to Avoid


Pets frequently run away from home during construction. With too much noise or too many new bodies going in and out the door, there is ample opportunity and good reason for a pup or kitty to high-tail it out of there. Before construction begins, attach a GPS device like Whistle on your dog’s collar and get an orange “escaped convict” collar for your kitty.

Poisonous Materials

Almost anything could constitute a poison for a pet when you start getting down to the nitty-gritty of home renovation; cleansers, adhesives, or anything small enough to be accidentally swallowed. In 2013, pet parent Julie had to take her Labrador, Moe, in for emergency surgery. Moe had ingested Gorilla Glue, a common household fixative found in most every toolkit! Moe fully recovered after surgery and hospitalization, but her mom was left with a $2,622 vet bill (Healthy Paws reimbursed $1,685).

Heavy Objects

Whether it is furniture, appliances, plywood, pipe, or glass, heavy items can cause injuries and accidents. Whether they fall or are being moved, everything from a hammer to a refrigerator can seriously hurt your cat or dog.


From underfoot to under-vehicle, pets run the risk of getting trampled or worse if they’re in the way. Pets also tend to be fearful of too many new people in the house and can behave territorially, which could result in scratches or bites and if you have a reactive dog, the situation can escalate even further.


From jackhammers to shouting workers, home renovations create a lot of racket – and that noise can negatively affect your dog or cat! An animals’ reaction to fear can differ wildly: they can become aggressive or so submissive that they relieve themselves on the floor.

The Pet-Friendly Plan of Action


If it’s possible, introduce anyone who will be in your home to your pets. This makes everyone aware that there is a pet in the house and that they should be cognizant of open doors and other hazards. Pro tip: when introducing your dogs to the crew, have the workers offer treats to make fast friends.

Clean It Up

Even if you’ve sufficiently pet-proofed your home, a renovation will bring in many new dangerous objects. Every possible poisonous material needs to be out of paw’s way. Cabinets need to be closed, buckets need to have lids on, adhesives and fillers need to be capped.

Create a Safe Space

Take a room that is farthest away from the hustle and bustle and make it the “go-to extra special pet room.” If you’re working on the upstairs bathroom, designate a room downstairs or vice versa. Play soft music, stock their favorite toys, or hide treats in nooks and crannies for a scavenger hunt. Renovator pros also say that they can easily work on dog training if the safe room is far enough away from the noise.

Distraction Activities

As soon as the crew arrives, take your dog for a long walk or spend time in the backyard, creating an impromptu agility course for your dog. Hit the dog park, go hiking or even take a day trip (don’t forget to bring a first aid kit and if it’s summer, watch for signs of overheating! Added bonus: getting out of the house will also calm you down.

Pup and Kitty Hotels

The easiest and safest plan of action is to find a sitter for your pets in a safe environment away from the construction and noise. Ask a pet-loving friend or family member, or use an app like Rover to find pet-sitters in your area and you’re guaranteed of their safety.

Be Prepared for Accidents

Always have your emergency vet number easily accessible should the worst happen. Everything from accidental ingestion of materials to physical injury will require fast thinking and a cool head. Of course, having pet insurance can dramatically offset emergency costs; make sure you’ve signed up at least 15 days prior to the renovation to completely cover any pets.

As stressful as renovations may be for you, they can take a major toll on your pets who don’t understand what’s happening. Take a moment to consider your dog or cat and how they may react, and figure out the best plan for your family, pets and home. If your cat is high strung or your dog can’t be around noise, you already know that dropping them off at Grandma’s for the week may be the best choice.

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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