Imagine you’re your pet for a moment:

One day you’re lazing on cushy carpeting, now you’re suddenly sliding along laminate flooring. Where did that come from? There’s a strange chemical smell in the air you can’t quite place – varnish? Paint? You don’t know what it is, but you know you don’t like it.

Your favourite digging (or pooping) patch in the garden is inexplicably filled with trendy succulents, your parents seem stressed and on edge, and there are areas of the home you used to rule that you can’t get into anymore.

You’d probably think, “What the pug is going on!?”

Locking down enough time and money to carry out the renovation plans that have been collecting dust in your Pintrest board is any homeowner’s dream come true – but the same can’t be said for your pets.

Between the strange people, smells, sights, and sounds, your furry friends will likely find the entire ordeal confusing, anxiety-inducing, and downright scary.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s how you can renovate your home without freaking out your pets.

1. Play therapist with your pets

You know your pets better than anyone else, so the best person to put together a home renovation game plan is you.

Carefully consider where you’re renovating and what your pet’s personality is like to try to predict how they’ll handle the ‘homework’ before the work starts:

  • How long will the renovations take?
  • How extensive are the renovations?
  • Can safe areas be blocked off?
  • How does your pet react to new people?
  • How does your pet react to loud noises?
  • Does being isolated in a room stress your pet out?
  • Is there a friend or family member who can pet sit?
  • If doors or gates are left open, will your pet stay inside or bolt for freedom?

Doing a contained renovation (like retiling a bathroom) will be simpler and easier than doing something that disrupts the entire house (like replacing all the flooring), so it’s important you know exactly what you’re doing – and in which order – before you figure out how to keep your pet safe and happy during the work.

2. Do the safe thing – even if they hate it

Cats – especially the outdoor kind – are accustomed to coming and going as they please, so you may need to prepare yourself for a temper tantrum of epic proportions.

The same goes for any pet who is used to having the run of the house without their movements being restricted. You may be in for crying, whimpering, separation anxiety, or good old FOMO as they watch (and hear) the outside world go by.

It’s difficult for any pet owner to see their pet stressed, but their safety must be your top priority. If there’s any risk of them getting hurt or escaping during renovations, your first and foremost job is to protect them – even if it makes them unhappy in the short-term.

3. Give them their own room

If possible, reserve a space (a bedroom, study, or even your garage) that will become your pet’s new “home” during the renovations. Try choosing a space that is as far away as possible from the noise and is in an area that won’t have workers walking past all day.

Furnish it with food, water, bedding, a litter box, and toys to try to make it as comfortable as possible.

For stressed pets, some of the following items may provide a sense of comfort:

  • Pheromone sprays or diffusers.
  • Calming collars.
  • Thundershirts, weighted vests, or blankets.
  • Anxiety medication as prescribed by your vet.
  • Spaces to hide if they get scared (cardboard box, under a table, etc.)

For many pets, the most comforting thing in their temporary home will be you – so make sure you keep your pet’s regular mealtimes, playtimes, and exercise times.

The situation is already stressful for them, so a sense of their normal routine will help them adjust.

4. Give your pet a vacation

If all else fails, or your renovations are too extensive to keep your pet in a safe area of your home, your best option may be to put your pup in doggy daycare, take your kitty to a cat hotel, or enlist a friend or family member to take your pet for the duration of the renovations.

If your pet has a nervous temperament, this may be the ideal option as you’ll be able to go to work each day and oversee the renovations with peace of mind, instead of spending each day worrying that your pet (or the construction crew) may be in danger.

5. Let them get used to the renovations

Once you’ve made it through the renovations, depending on how extensive they are, your pet may need some time to adjust to their new living space.

Things will look, feel, sound, and smell different to their sensitive noses so be patient and treat it like it’s their first day home:

  • Take them on a supervised tour of the updated home. If there are new entrances and exits (for example, new glass sliding doors into the garden) make sure to show these to your pet so they know how to get in and out.
  • There may be new rules in place (for example, fancy floors they aren’t allowed to scratch or furniture they’re not allowed on) so you’ll have to train them to enforce the new laws of the land. Be patient.
  • You may be excited about the renovations, but don’t show your pet that excitement. Be cool, calm, and collected so that they act the same way.
  • Keep their food and bedding in the same place that they were before the renovations. If you want to move them, do so slowly after they’ve had time to adjust.
  • If your pet shows signs of prolonged anxiety such as inappropriate bladder or bowel control, not eating, or aggressive behaviour, contact your vet as soon as possible.

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