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girl with white dog white couch

Your pets deserve comfort, too. Here are some tips on creating a pet-friendly design for your home, so everyone can live in purr-fect harmony.

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Stop at random at any home in your neighborhood, knock on the door, and chances are you will be greeted by an enthusiastic dog or curious cat. In 2014, 68 percent of all households in America included at least one pet; in Canada, 57 percent of households had at least one furry companion living there.

Pet ownership in North American homes has boomed over the last several decades, and so has the amount of money we pour into their well-being and happiness: in the U.S. alone, “pet parents” dropped $58 billion in 2014 to care for and entertain these valuable members of the family.

With so many dogs and cats running around, doesn’t it makes sense to design your home to accommodate the sweethearts?

Designing for pets

All too often, planning for pets becomes an afterthought. Sure, you probably know that your rambunctious dog needs a big backyard, and maybe your cat loves to watch the birds from a window perch. But where will you put the litter pan?

What about a place to clean those muddy paws before they leave tracks all over your clean floors? Designing your home with a pet in mind before you move into it can make everyone much more comfortable.

Personal space

Start with the basics: A particular area of the house that is designed for your pet. For the dog, that might be a mudroom that is complete with plenty of hooks and drawers for those leashes and toys, as well as an area where the dog can be dried off or cleaned up — and then the soiled towels tossed into a hamper or even directly into the washer.

A space like this just inside the back door is perfect. Want to really go all out? Plan on a space that has a small shower and sink, perfect to wash off your dog after he has gotten into things that smell less-than-pleasant.

pets

Litter-airy pursuits

Speaking of odors, let’s talk about the litter pan. Where will you hide it away? It needs to be in a place where your pet can easily access it and you can easily clean it. But it also needs to be hidden away, because frankly, the cat needs the privacy!

And who wants to have to view that particular eyesore on a regular basis? There are many solutions for this, including the popular kitty room hidden away underneath a staircase. A small cutout for access allows the cat to get into the space, and a larger door for you allows for easy cleaning.

Dedicated storage for your dedicated pals

What about storage? Dogs and cats need their own food, no matter how much they beg for yours. That translates into big bags of food that take up a great deal of space. Planning out storage ahead of time can help avoid any problems.

Look into a low cabinet with pull-out shelves, or a closet that is dedicated to the pet’s things. You might also plan out a high shelf that holds the smaller bags of treats, especially for those dogs and cats who like to dive into the bag to get the freshest goodies.

The great outdoors

Your pets will either love looking outside or going outside — so make sure they have ample time and space to do either. For dogs, a big backyard with pet-friendly materials, such as pea gravel and lush grasses, can make the entire area so appealing that they can’t wait to go play. Erect a fence around the property to help ensure their safety and security.

dogs on a deck

Room with a view

For those animals that do not go outside, plan out a way for them to enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort and safety of the house. Cats will always appreciate big windows, especially if they look out on something interesting.

A window that focuses on a sunny, wide-open area will allow wildlife to come near, and birdbaths and bird feeders mean that your cat will have plenty of enjoyment for years to come. Dogs will like the open view too, especially if they can watch the sidewalk and driveway — this helps bring out their protective instincts.

Giving furniture a fighting chance

Finally, don’t forget the furniture. Pet-friendly furniture is a great way to ensure your pet has the run of the house and you don’t have to worry about fine furniture that becomes damaged by a claw or a rambunctious gallop through the room.

Look for fabrics that will hide pet hair, and invest in a vacuum that is designed to help scoop all that hair away. Invest in a scratching post for cats, but also make sure that the couch doesn’t become a prime target — avoid fabrics that are overly rough and inviting for a good scratch. Floors covered with rugs that wash easily and are stain-resistant are a great idea.

Your home should be their home

Don’t have a cat or dog yet, but thinking about it? Now is the time. Millions of pets are in shelters right now, waiting patiently for their forever home. Plan out your house and then head over to the local shelter to find the one (or two! or three!) who will make your home and your family complete.

 

 

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.