May is National Pet Month, so what better time to undertake projects around your home that will benefit not just you, but your beloved four-footed family members, as well?
At the top of that list would be installing a pet door, or perhaps replacing an older one that has seen better days. Doggy doors endure a lot of use, particularly if you share your home with an enthusiastic, rambunctious canine who likes to make dozens of trips in and out during the course of the day. Pet door products have grown by leaps and bounds in sophistication since their early days; the newer models are energy efficient and designed to stand up to rigorous use. They include safety features that protect both your animals and your home. Current models now allow you to adjust the door so that it allows entry from both directions or, when circumstances dictate, to allow your four-footed friends to enter from outside but not go back out once they are indoors.
Pet doors can be installed on virtually any surface: in brick, in standard frame walls, in French doors, screen doors, storm doors, cobblestone, and even cement. Check out our partner, Hale Pet Doors at HalePetDoor.com to get an idea of the variety and scope of doors available for installation.
Mud rooms have been popular for several years now, and there’s a growing trend to incorporate a “pet element” to these. Not only do kids and visitors track in mud and melting snow and slush, but dogs do the same. More homeowners are adding a pet cleaning station in their mud room or near the back door that includes a shower pan and drain where muddy paws can be cleaned before your dog tracks residue through the rest of the house. Experts advise considering your pet’s size and mobility before selecting the style of pet shower or tub, and recommend porcelain tile or stainless steel, both of which are durable and water-resistant.
Tired of having pet food bowls and dishes and food bags on display in your kitchen? Consider installing slide-out cabinets for food storage and bowls when not in use. Some homeowners are opting for custom cabinetry that includes shelving with built-in dog or cat dishes that can be rolled out at mealtime. Similarly, there’s a trend toward hidden cat litter box zones by converting entry closets into feline bathrooms or securing them under benches or shelving, where they are still easily accessible, but much less noticeable.
Are you thinking of redoing floors? Keep in mind the pets who share your living quarters before you undertake this project. Consider how much traffic—both human and animal—when deciding on new flooring. Wood is a practical and durable choice but can scratch easily. And, of course, carpeting can harbor bacteria and mold. Tile, stone or slate flooring may be a better option to prevent doggy toenail scratching and damage, as well as providing for easier clean-up.
Heated floors (which tend to cost around $7 per square foot) are a great option if your household includes geriatric pets who suffer from joint or arthritis problems. While this may seem overly indulgent (and potentially expensive!), remember that heated floors are great energy savers as well. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, this type of radiant heating is more efficient than forced air heating. Therefore it wouldn’t be just your dog and cat who benefit from this type of upgrade, but, in the long run, your heating bills will, as well.
May is the perfect month to do an inspection of your backyard fence to determine how well it’s come through the winter months, and whether there are any spots that could provide an escape route for the dog. Posts may have warped, slats pulled free, or nails may be sticking out. Check for holes your dog may have dug, and inspect the latching on your gate to see that it’s still holding securely. Consider installing something more substantial than a standard built-in latch; you might even want to look into replacing your old gate with a self-closing model to ensure that it can’t be left open.
Make sure you’ve provided ample shade for your dog so that he can be protected during the heat of the day while you are away. Also, if you are preparing your garden and flower beds for spring, keep in mind there are a number of plants that are toxic to animals. These include azaleas, lilies, daffodils, sago palms, some mushrooms, tulips, and black walnuts. While they may not generally appeal to your pet, if bored or left to his own devices long enough, he may be tempted to chew on them, with disastrous results.
Celebrate National Pet Month by undertaking a few projects that will make life more enjoyable for you and your four-footed family members. And, as always, your local Handyman Matters office stands ready to assist you with these or any other household repair and remodel projects you have in mind.