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Protect Your Pet during Home Improvements

It’s that time of year when many homeowners tackle home improvement and renovation projects. Whether you hire a professional or do-it-yourself, it’s important to know that these projects can put your pets at risk of serious injury.

There are dozens of hazards. Discarded nails, screws and tacks are often strewn about the worksite. Some pets can’t resist chewing on insulation and exposed electrical wiring. Lead and mold are common in older homes, and exposure to these substances can be dangerous. Falling objects and ingested chemicals place your pet directly in harm’s way. In fact, the ASPCA reports that last year, Poison Control managed approximately 2,100 cases involving paint, solvents, expanding glues and other products commonly used in construction.

In addition to dangerous materials scattered about, many pets will be frightened by the excessive noise made by hammers, nails guns, power saws and other loud tools. This ruckus can add stress to an already traumatic situation.

Prevention is key
Of course, preventing accidents is the best way to avoid them. The pet experts at Best Friends offer the following suggestions for protecting pets during construction:

  • Get Buddy and Fluffy out of the house – There is no better way to keep your pets safe than to remove them from the house. You may want to consider boarding or daycare for your pets at your local kennel so they are out of harm’s way during the construction phase of the project.

  • Establish a safe room – If getting them out of the house isn’t an option, setting up a room in your home will offer security for your pet. Close the windows and the curtains, but leave a light on. Play some soothing music at a low level, or keep the television on. Leave some water in the room, along with a selection of your pet’s favorite toys and some comfortable bedding.

  • Keep pets away from the workers – Aside from a short introduction, keep pets away from the work area. Pets underfoot can trip or startle workers, and may interfere with their concentration. Additionally, not everyone is a pet lover. Having been bitten before, many workers may be fearful of dogs, and won’t appreciate them hanging around the job site, no matter how cute or subdued. Furthermore, workers who are animal lovers may be tempted to feed your pooch a few too many treats, or spend a little too much time with her, rather than on the job.

  • Exercise caution – Be sure the crew cleans up at the end of the day. Paint cans, glues, cements and solvents should be covered and out of pet’s reach. Although most water-based paints are low in toxicity, they can still cause stomach upset if consumed. Other “artisitic” paints can contain heavy metals that could be poisonous if consumed in large quantities. Solvents can damage the gastrointestinal tract, eyes and skin if ingested or inhaled.

If your pet is injured or ingests a potential toxin, contact your veterinarian immediately or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435). Have product containers or packages available for reference, and always read instructions carefully. For more information, visit