Fenced Yard

Anyone who’s ever owned and loved a pet can attest to this: They’re much more than just animals. They’re family. And they require an incredible amount of devotion and attention.

Sometimes, however, our pets are the last “people” we think about when moving to a new home or redecorating. But their specific needs should be at the top of any pet lover’s list when making decisions that can significantly impact the quality and safety of their lives.

To give you a hand in ensuring that your home (new, remodeled or otherwise) is laid out in the best interest of your furry family members, we’ve come up with a list of the top 10 signs of a pet-friendly home.

1. A Room of Their Own

Surely, we’re not talking about devoting an entire room of your home just to your pet, are we? Yes, we are. Even though they like to follow us everywhere we go, sometimes our pets need a space of their own where they can retreat and chill out when the din of family life gets to be a little too much for their oversensitive ears. One of the signs of a truly pet-friendly home is a room, dog/cat house or outside area filled with safe toys, comfortable bedding and food and water dishes. The conscientious pet owner will also go to great lengths to make sure that there are no exposed wires or cables that pets can get to, and install plastic wall socket covers to avoid shocking surprises.

2. A Well-Vacuumed Home

One of the hallmarks of a pet-friendly home is a clean house that's free of dust and dirt accumulation. Certain allergens can affect your pet’s health, and greatly decrease their quality of life. When tending to your spic-and-span environment, it’s also important to avoid cleaning products that could harm your pets.

3. Secure and Screened-In Windows

The more rambunctious the pets, the greater the danger that they’ll test your home’s weak spots. One of the greatest dangers to your pets are windows that can easily fall open or open windows that lack safety screens.

4. Locked or Babyproofed Cabinets

Who says babyproofing is just for toddlers? Your pets can be incredibly proficient at getting into areas that you wouldn’t think they’d be capable of accessing, including cabinets that contain harmful cleaning products and other chemicals. If you’re sharing your digs with your pet, be sure to always keep these types of products out of reach in locked or babyproofed cabinets.

5. A Fenced-In Backyard

Even if you never let your pet into the backyard alone, and are always there to supervise, there's no guarantee that even the most well-behaved dog won’t go on the chase if the stimulus is there. Having a fenced-in backyard that will keep your pets in (and others out) is vital to keeping them safe. You should also make it a habit to regularly check that your yard is free of poisonous mushrooms and plants.

6. An Uncluttered Living Space

Homes that are high on the pet-friendly scale are typically well organized and lack the kind of clutter that your pets can get into. Remember that the more opportunities there are for them to chew on something they shouldn’t be chewing on — towels, plastic bags, cords — the more opportunities there are for them to ingest something that could cause serious internal injury.

7. Baby-Gated Entryways

Baby gates aren’t just there to keep your pet from wandering somewhere they’re not supposed to be — they’re also there to keep them safe. If there are any rooms in your home that have furniture or items that are easily toppled, consider making a small investment in baby gates to keep those spaces off-limits.

8. Satin-Painted Walls

Yet another entry to serve your own best interests is the use of glossy, satin paint, especially in areas where your pet spends the majority of his time. Satin-painted walls are much easier to clean than those coated with flat paint — something that can come in handy if your pet is especially jowly or slobbery.

9. Pet-Friendly Plants

If you love plants, but love your pets even more, be sure to check what kind of greenery you’re bringing into your home. Some plants, like aloe and ivy, can be toxic to dogs and cats.

10. Scratch-Resistant Flooring

This is more for the benefit of the homeowner than it is for the pets that reside within, but that doesn’t make it any less critical a consideration. Your pets can inadvertently scratch up your flooring just by moving about. Linoleum, tile and hardwood flooring are your best options. Try to avoid too much carpeting, since it can be difficult to clean if there’s an accident.

You wouldn’t think twice about making your home friendlier for your young or elderly cohabitants, would you? So why would you think twice about keeping your home safe for your pets? By following these suggestions, you can create a relaxed and harmonious home for all of your furry family members.