When preparing for a home remodeling project, whether it’s just having a paint contractor in or a major kitchen remodel, we make sure to have a checklist of everything that needs to get done. We move furniture, take down pictures, arrange our schedules to be there when the contractor what about our pets? Do they have a safe place to go where they can stay safe and out of trouble?
First and foremost, it is important to remember that the contractor is not a babysitter for your pet(s). It isn’t their job to make sure that the cat has water in its bowl or that the dog is let outside at 2p. I suggest you find alternative residence for your pet whenever possible during your project. If a relative or alternative residence isn’t an option, check out pet day care. Most areas have this service available on a daily or per hour basis.
***Your pet must be up-to-date on all of their vaccinations and have basic “social” skills to be admitted to most establishments.***
Any type of design project is going to require “strangers” being in your home. For most pets, this is a cause of much stress as their primary job is to protect their people and property. If your pet isn’t too “neurotic”, introducing the workers to your pet prior to work starting can help. This will help to establish the contractor as a “friend.”
As stated previously, if you can’t find alternative care for your pet during working hours, placing your pet in a “safe” room away from all of the commotion will help. Construction sites, whether they are big or small, are fraught with dangers for curious animals. Open paint cans, nails and screws, hammers and saws can all be an accident waiting to happen. A pet gate cordoning off the work area can also be helpful to keep your pet safe.
If possible, have a separate entrance for workers to arrive and come and go as they need. This helps to keep the commotion at bay as tools and equipment are being brought into the home and construction waste being thrown out. Having a separate entrance will also help you to keep tabs on “Sparky” the dog (or Morris the cat) from escaping out into the neighborhood.
Dr Lisa Kluskow of the Silver Spring Animal Wellness Center in Glendale WI strongly suggests the use of DAP for dogs and Feliway for cats to help them deal with stress. DAP stands for “Dog Appeasing Pheromone” and mimics the scent given off by the mother dog that keeps her puppies calm and happy. These same “appeasement” pheromones have the same calming effect on adult dogs and aren’t detectable by humans. DAP takes about a week before the effects are noticeable-so start using before your project begins. It should be noted that not all dogs will be effected by DAP as it depends on the dog and the severity of the anxiety. Feliway is a pheromone which works on a cat’s sense of smell, and has been proven to be so calming that peace and harmony can be restored in even multi-cat households. (Feliway is also used to help prevent spraying and litterbox usage!). Both products are available as room diffusers and sprays
Make sure that the workers place plastic sheeting and/or tarps around the work area. Plastic sheeting should be hung in all doorways of rooms being worked on to prevent pollutants, dust and other debris from spreading throughout the house. Dust, pollutants and other airborne particles can irritate any upper respiratory afflictions, cause headaches or trigger allergies. Ask your contractor what steps they take to minimize the risk to avoid the creation of these indoor pollutants and contain those that can’t be avoided.
While there are many steps that have been taken to reduce the hazards of lead paint, if you live in an older home (older than 1975) there is a possibility that lead paint can be a cause of concern. This is still a threat even if you’d placed lead-free coats over it. If you scrape, sand or heat lead paint, the lead can become airborne and make it into your body or contaminate the soil around your home. This is a hazard for anyone that comes into contact with it. If lead paint may be an issue during your project, hire a trained inspector to test the surfaces.
***The EPA does not recommend home-use testing kits. Get the “Reducing Lead Hazards When Remodeling Your Home” brochure for suggestions and tips on how to proceed.***
Make sure the contractor uses low or no VOC materials whenever possible to cut down the risk of all home occupants becoming sick from breathing in these emitted chemicals and toxins. Carpeting is one of the largest indoor polluters of our spaces. Carpet off-gasses toxins and chemicals into the air upon installation and removal. Make sure the carpet installer unrolls the carpet BEFORE it is delivered to your home, or at least before it is brought inside to help air the carpet out. Make sure the installer uses a no or low VOC adhesive to secure the carpeting (although this goes for ALL flooring). Cats are more susceptible to VOCs and other airbourn irritations than dogs due to their shortened upper respiratory tracts and they should be sequestered away during any painting, sanding, scraping or carpet removal/installation.
***Paint is the second major “offender” of off-gassing indoor spaces.***
After the work day has finished, it is vital that the contractor secure the work area if the job isn’t finished. Dangerous items such as tools, ladders and other hazardous materials out of family member’s reach at all times. Any holes in walls, floors or in the yard should also be secured to prevent any 4-legged family members (or 2 legged for that matter!) from falling in.
Here is a checklist to help you manage your remodeling project AND your companion animals during the duration of construction:
– Mist down all surfaces before sanding or scraping areas to be painted or stained. This will help keep the dust from becoming airborne and you and your pet(s) from breathing it in.
– Work outside whenever possible. This will help to keep the mess to a minimum inside, and cause less chance of your pet getting into trouble.
– Ventilate the space, even in winter. Even if you are doing a GREEN remodel, dust and other particles will still be a problem. Position fans so that they exhaust out instead of in.
– DO run your HVAC unit when contractors are sanding. Make sure to change filters as often as once a week to keep dust from spreading through the house in prolonged projects. If your project is only a couple of days-change the filter once project is finished.
– Be wary of rodent droppings that might be exposed during demolition and can spread Hantavirus. This can be deadly for pets and people.
With these helpful tips and some careful planning, you can rest assured that your animals will be kept safe and sound during any and all of your remodeling projects