Are your houseguests bringing their pets along? You may need to do some "pet-proofing" before they arrive. A little planning can go a long way in helping you and your guests enjoy a visit without worrying their pet will destroy your home or become injured.
Start at Ground Level
Do an "all fours" inspection to get a sense of what is at eye and nose level for your houseguests' four-legged-friends. Small items on shelves near the floor may seem like irresistible playthings, so put everything you can that is easily broken or damaged well out of reach.
Potted plants can be a temptation even for well-trained animals. Consider adding small stands for plants to bump them up out of the danger zone. Cats will often try to eat plants, especially if stressed and in a new environment, so make sure you remove plants that are toxic to them. Pets.ca has a list plants that are toxic to cats.
Look for hazards that could cause a pet harm as well. Window cords that are left dangling are common choking and strangulation hazards, so shorten cords and cut through loops. Using "baby proofing" plug covers for electrical outlets can help reduce the chance of accidental shock. You can bundle TV or other electronic cords and tie with Velcro or zip-ties, then wrap them into heavy plastic bags to prevent chewing or entanglement.
If you live in a high-rise, make sure all windows and balconies are secure. Screens are better than bars, as smaller pets can often wiggle through gaps that seem safe to homeowners.
Keep Food, Medication, and Chemicals Out of Reach
In the kitchen, put food away and discard perishable trash to prevent pets from eating foods they shouldn't. Make sure that foods toxic to dogs, like chocolate, are put behind locked cupboard doors. South Peace Animal Hospital in British Columbia notes common ingestible dangers to dogs and cats.
Keep all medications well out of reach as pets can chew through prescription bottles and most human medications will cause severe injury to animals. Eliminate any "ladders" that curious pets can climb to try and access elevated areas, like countertops, tabletops, or the top of appliances like the stove or refrigerator.
Home cleaning products, pesticides, fertilizers, and motor vehicle fluids such as antifreeze can also cause serious illness or death. Keep such items stored in a latched cabinet or on a high shelf and clean up any drips or spills immediately. Also keep toilet lids closed, particularly if you use automatic bowl cleaners, to reduce risk of ingestion.
Set Up a "Safe Space"
A dog or cat visiting a new place is likely to be nervous. Creating a sheltered, quiet environment for them to hide in can help them become comfortable. Consider putting their bed in a laundry room where the dryer can provide calming white noise. Add a few toys and leave food and clean water in an accessible space.
If necessary, a small table with a sheet draped over it can provide a hideaway where the pet can feel protected. Keep litter boxes separate from food and water areas. You can install a pet door in an outer room if you have an enclosed porch or yard for a dog to run in, so they can go in or out on their own.
Restrict and Protect
Baby gates can often be used to block off areas of the house pets aren't allowed. You can set guidelines for your houseguest's pet(s) to avoid chaos; discuss your house rules on arrival to avoid problems during their visit.
Consider adding some rugs and furniture covers for the duration of your guests' stay. Waterproof furniture covers can prevent accidents from ruining a sofa or chair and keep claws or muddy paws from destroying upholstery. Area rugs can help buffer the effect of clawed feet on hardwood or carpet.
You may want to invest in a hand-held vacuum if you don't already own one, to make it easy to pick up extra pet hair and dander. If you or anyone in your family has pet allergies, stocking up on over the counter allergy medications can help you get through a pet visit. According to HealthLink, keeping pets out of bedrooms can significantly limit allergen exposure, especially for children.
If your houseguests allows their pet(s) to run in your yard, you'll want to make sure they have a flea or tick collar, even if you haven't experienced fleas or ticks in your yard before. Flea and tick prevention can help you avoid an infestation and spot treatments can allow you to treat any affected areas quickly and effectively.
Make sure the yard has good fencing to prevent escapes. It's not advisable to leave a dog tied for any period of time, however a long lead attached to a heavy coated wire run between trees can allow for some short periods of exercise if a yard is not secure. Request that any waste deposited by the pet in your yard be promptly handled to avoid contamination of the soil and prevent damage to grass or other plants.
A visit with houseguests who chooses (remove) to bring their pet(s) is completely doable as long as you prepare in advance and lay out your expectations clearly. With these guidelines in mind, your visit can be enjoyable and stress free.