Make Room For Puppy

By Tom Roebuck

June 19, 2009 5 min read


Pets need to be considered in improvements and d?cor

Tom Roebuck

Creators News Service

Any home-design decisions, whether while building a new home or improving an existing one, need to be thought out carefully. That means taking into consideration the needs of every member of the family -- including your pets.

It is possible for humans to share a home with one or more four-legged friends without it turning into a zoo. The goal is to make an environment that is safe and comfortable for your cat or dog while protecting any property from getting smashed or shredded. Any homeowner with animals who doesn't prepare their home properly is asking for trouble.

A good approach is to pet-proof your home as if you were childproofing it. Consider the world from their vantage point. Take an inventory of all the indoor plants and make sure that none of them are toxic to animals. Consult a veterinarian if you have any doubts.

Anything that is within reach of a dog and its tail should be moved to higher ground. Dogs see the world as their chew toy, so any exposed electrical wires need to be secured.

Drapes that have loose, dangling fabric won't last long with a cat around, and, no matter how tall it is, all pieces of furniture can be scaled by your beloved feline. So don't think that family-heirloom vase on the top shelf of a bookcase is safe. It's not.

The furniture isn't safe either, even if you're successful in keeping your critters from claiming them as their own. Fur will find a way onto couches and chairs regardless if a pet climbs up on them. One way to camouflage it is to buy furniture that matches the color of your furry friend's fur.

If buying new furniture isn't an option, an alternative suggested by Michelle Pollack, president of The Lollipop Tree, an interior design firm in Charleston, S.C., is to get tailored slip covers made from a cleanable fabric, particularly if your dog or cat is allowed to lounge on the couch. She said that white is an ideal color, surprisingly, since you can always bleach it if the pet has an accident or jumps on it with muddy paws.

One type of fabric that should be avoided in upholstered furniture is microfiber ultrasuede. It is very smooth, comfortable and looks great, but is also a nightmare if there are animals around, according to MaryBeth Wilson, principal designer and owner of MBWilson Interior Design in Plymouth, Mich.

"That stuff acts like a magnet for pet hair. I wouldn't recommend microfiber upholstery furniture for anyone who has pets," Wilson advised. "You might as well use it for a pet brush, because it sticks right to it."

A fabric similar to suede that is much easier to clean is leather. "Leather is actually a good choice because it's a natural material -- unless you put a bunch of finishes on it. It's easy to clean and it's OK if it gets kind of weathered, because you want that look in a lot of leathers," Pollak said.

When your cat or dog isn't on the furniture or outside, they'll likely be found lounging on the floor. And wherever they go, fur is sure to follow. Hard-surface floors are easier to clean than carpets, especially if your pet is still going through potty training and prone to accidents.

Spray cleaning a hard floor is a much easier job than scrubbing a thick carpet. And when fur builds up on a hard floor, a dry Swiffer will pick it up very easily, as will a vacuum.

Most homes have at least one room with wall-to-wall carpet. Pet owners should consider a material that has a pattern that will hide dirt or stains rather than a solid color. White is completely off-limits.

Since both dogs and cats spend a lot of time sleeping on the carpet, inhaling any fumes it may be emitting, the material is an important factor. Carpets made from natural fibers will give off far less toxins than those made from nylon.

"Wool is much more stain resistant and water resistant than people think. It's a natural fiber, so you don't have toxins that come into the air," Pollak said. "It's a much more expensive alternative than fiber, but if you can afford it, I love wool."

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