Renovations are stressful for animals as well as people. Tips for keeping pets calm and content during times of upheaval.
Renovations can be difficult, even traumatic, but the promise of a better home gets you through. Imagine how much more stressful renovation is for your pets, who don’t have the sure promise of a new home to sustain them?
Instead, they just can’t understand what is happening. They feel displaced, grumpy, uncertain and upset that nothing is in its right place. There are new people coming and going all the time and some don’t even say hello. And their owners are so preoccupied they might even feel a little less loved …
Renovation survival strategies for cats and dogs
You can avoid much of this stress by ensuring you have a renovation survival strategy for your pets as well as for you.
Sometimes the simplest option for our feline friends is to send them off for a holiday at the local cattery or any other place they are used to (maybe your mum’s?). Most cats find change extremely unsettling, and major renovations will release the change trifecta – strange sounds, strange people and strange smells!
Don’t be tempted to buy your pet a brand new bed and new toys to match the new pad – leave the bed for at least a month or change it well in advance of the renovation and introduce any new toys gradually, removing old ones only after the new ones have been adopted. Your pet will need to find comfort in his or her new surrounds and having things that smell right will be very important to the settling in process.
Be aware that building materials can be sources of danger for your pets. And that power tools and pets don’t mix. Dogs love to investigate new things, so you need to keep them contained in a secure part of the house or yard away from the builders. One of their prime investigative techniques is to chomp on stuff, so be especially careful if you are renovating an old house, as old paints can contain lead and other toxic elements that neither pets nor children should be exposed to. Adults should avoid them too!
You will need to keep an eye out for these potential sources of danger not just while the builders are on site, but throughout the renovations. If you need to corral your pet in an area of your property that it hasn’t previously had access to, look at that area with fresh eyes so you can identify anything that might be hazardous to your pet and remove it. If Rover has to sleep in the garden shed for example, make sure all the garden paraphenalia like snail pellets and rat poison is securely locked away.
Stressed animals fuelled by adrenalin, like humans, can accomplish extraordinary feats of ingenuity and strength. Your animal is probably already microchipped but make sure it is also wearing an easy to read name tag bearing its own name and your phone number. In the event that the animal does a runner or accidentally gets let out, it will help it get home faster.
If you need to make changes to where your animal sleeps or eats during the renovation, make that change a month in advance so that the animal’s new pattern is set before the renovations begin. That way your pet won’t have to cope with all the new changes at once.
And lay on the love! In times of stress we all need an extra hug.