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7 Tips for Keeping Your Pets Calm During Construction

calm-pets-home-renovationsPro: new living room addition on the back of your house. Con: energetic lab with noise-induced anxiety.

Sound like a familiar situation? Renovations alone can be stressful enough, without even beginning to worry about the toll that loud noises, new people, and clanking power tools can take on your pet.

While some pets are comfortable with high volume, 25%- 49% of dog owners report their dogs are afraid of loud noises and respond with fear. Loud noises could be anything from fireworks, to thunder, to noises in the street. Home construction can certainly be as loud as any of these things!

Sometimes this fear is a conditioned — or learned — response, and sometimes it is due to simply high sensitivity in pets. While you don’t want to encourage fear or anxious behaviors, when you see fear in your pets, you have to find constructive ways to help them overcome it.

1) Create a Plan

Before any chaos ensues, establish a plan to manage your pet’s fears and anxiety. Fortunately, construction in your home is rarely unplanned. You should have a good sense of the timeline of when your home project will begin. This gives you good opportunity to plan for your pet’s care, as well. The more prepared you are, the less stressed you will be. The less stressed you are, the less stressed your pet will be.

For starters, know when any contractors will be arriving to work on your house. Not just the day, but the time as well. Plan as if they might arrive early. Set aside doggie treats, toys, games and any other pet necessities so they don’t get buried under tarps or behind furniture.

Communicate your plan to your family and to handymen coming and going, especially if you are keeping your pet in close proximity to any of the action. This shows that you’re serious about upholding the plan, and also provides background information to prevent someone absent-mindedly leaving doors ajar, paint cans open or tools propped precariously in reach of your pet.

2) Give Your Pet a Good Workout

Before and during the renovations, get outside with your pet. Go for a walk or for a swim if it’s warm enough. Not only can the excitement of the great outdoors wear out your dog, but a solid run will help him release pent-up energy, too. Just make sure to always leash your pet before leaving the house, even if your best bud is well versed in vocal commands. Construction equipment, such as backhoes, can travel at speeds up to 25 miles per hour, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

A good walk or run leaves less energy for your pet to spend on being anxious or afraid in the midst of any construction-related commotion.

3) Create a Safe Place

In the midst of a renovation, when everything is unfamiliar and out-of-place, your pet needs somewhere to retreat. As part of your planning stage, find a quiet room for where your pet can be kept away from the action. If possible, this safe place should not be his crate — though placing the open crate in this safe room might be a good idea.

If your pet feels trapped and afraid, he may injure himself in a panic to break free. Fill the room with comfortable and familiar things. Whether you have a doggie bed, fuzzy blanket, an old chair or toys, make the space cozy for your pet. Give him something to curl up in, a place to crawl under and something to play with. Stock his space with fresh food and water.

Keep this safe space as far away from the noise as possible!

4) Drown Out Loud Noises

Calming music, white noise machines, the television or even a fan can help block out some of the pounding and banging coming from your new construction.

If you have a young puppy, you may even be able to accustom him to some loud noises by gradually turning the volume down on your TV or stereo over the course of the project.

5) Create Distractions

While music or TV may be distraction enough, other good distractions include playing games with your pet. Don’t just lock him in the back room and forget about him until the renovations are complete.

Stay with him, give him a belly rub, watch TV with him, play games and maybe work on a new trick if he is calm enough. Who knows — some quality puppy time may be just what you need to relax to get away from all the havoc yourself.

6) Maintain Regular Schedule

If your pet isn’t running rampant through the living room, begging for scraps, treats, a walk or dinner, it can be easy to lose track of the time. Keep an eye on the clock and set alarms if you have to. Maintaining your pet’s schedule is key to soothing his anxiety and stress. When everything else is upturned, your pet should be able to count on his regular walk, his standard mealtimes and any other daily routines he’s used to.

7) Monitor Stress and Anxiety

Through all of this, keep a close eye on your pet. Look for signs that your pet is anxious or afraid, or any other potential behavior issues. If a safe space, distractions, white noise and other tips don’t help, soothe your pet with massages or consider purchasing an anxiety wrap. Anxiety wraps can help calm your dog during thunderstorms, fireworks displays or home renovations such as this.

If your pet still is distressed, talk to your veterinarian about behavior therapy or medication options.

Happy renovations!


About the Author: Megan Wild is obsessed with her four-legged best friend and mutt. She loves coming up with ways she can show her dog how much she appreciates her companionship. When she’s not hanging out with her dog, Megan writes on her blog, Your Wild Home, about dog-centric home decor.

10 Household Items that Could Poison your Pet

cat-plant-household-pet-poison
National Poison Prevention Week is this month, highlighting the dangers of accidental poisonings and how to prevent them. Despite an effort to spread awareness about poisons, we have still paid over $2.9 million in claims for toxicity and poisoning in dogs and cats since 2013. While some of these toxins are well known—like chocolate—many may be a surprise. We looked into our database of toxicity and poison claims finding the 10 most common substances toxic to cats and dogs found very close to home.

Trupanion’s 10 Most Common Pet Poison and Toxicity Claims

  1. Chocolate
  2. Rat Poison
  3. Common household drugs (like NSAID’s, Advil, and Acetaminophen)
  4. Xylitol (commonly found in chewing gum)
  5. Grapes and Raisins
  6. Mushrooms
  7. Plants (like lily or sago palm)
  8. Marijuana
  9. Onions and Garlic
  10. Antifreeze

Some substances are far more toxic or tempting for cats than dogs, and vice-versa. For example, of the claims paid out, over 10% went toward chocolate toxicity claims specifically, and 95% of those claims came from dogs. On the other hand, lilies are incredibly toxic to cats and can lead to kidney failure if your cat simply licks a lily bulb. Of all the claims, lily toxicity came out as one of the most expensive, with an average claim cost of $1,000.

“The best option is to keep these toxins out of your pet’s reach. If you think your pet has been exposed to any of these toxins, it is important to stay calm and act quickly. Keep your veterinarian’s contact information and a pet first aid kit readily accessible in case of an incident,” says Denise Petryk, DVM.

For more tips and information on pet poison prevention, visit Trupanion’s Guide to Poison Prevention.

Pet Owners Share Their Irish Admiration through Irish-Inspired Pet Names

Many North American pet owners adore Ireland and love to show their admiration through their cats and dogs. We looked into our database to find an array of Irish-inspired pet names that reflect Ireland’s symbols, cities, folklore, drink, music and of course, Saint Patrick’s Day.

wheaten-terrier-irish-pet-namesTrupanion’s top 10 Irish pet names:

  1. Bailey
  2. Lucky
  3. Chance
  4. Guinness
  5. Seamus
  6. Clover
  7. Finnegan
  8. Dublin
  9. Connor
  10. Patrick

These provide just a glimpse into the vast array of pet names reflecting North America’s love of Irish culture.


4 Secrets to Making Your Dog’s Coat Shiny and Healthy

Dog-Coat-Shiny-and-Healthy
It doesn’t matter if your dog has long hair, a smooth coat or is a wire-haired breed of dog, you want its coat to look luxurious and shiny. Shiny hair is healthy hair, whereas a dull coat can indicate some type of health issue is going on with your dog or that they are not being groomed properly and consistently. There are several things you can do to keep your dog’s coat shiny and healthy.


5 Pet Poisons Found in Your Purse

dog-purse-poisonsOver the past 3 years, we’ve paid over $2.9 million in claims for toxicity and poisoning in dogs and cats, and suprisingly, many of the substances most toxic to pets can be found in the purse hanging on your arm. We looked our its database of toxicity and poison claims finding the 5 most common poisons found in your purse.

  • Xylitol, found in chewing gum and other artificially-sweetened products, can lead to a drop in blood sugar and eventually affects the liver and kidneys.
  • Raisins might be the perfect compact snack, but they can be very toxic to pets and ingestion leads to kidney failure.
  • Inhalers contain albuterol, and when a pet gets a hold of the inhaler, they can accidently be exposed to massive amount of the drug, which can lead to death.
  • Human medications like NSAIDs including Advil, Aleve, and Motrin, Acetaminophen including Tylenol, and Antidepressants can cause a number of symptoms at varying degrees of severity.
  • Hand sanitizer contains a large amount of alcohol, which can cause a severe drop in blood sugar, neurological depression, coma, and even death.

“The best option is to keep these toxins out of your pet’s reach. Heep your purse away from your pet or try to avoid keeping these items in it if you have an especially nosy pet. Determined pets can chew through plastic containers,” says Denise Petryk, DVM. “If your pet ingests a toxin, stay calm and act quickly. Keep your veterinarian’s contact information and a pet first aid kit at the ready.”

For more tips and information on pet poison prevention, visit Trupanion’s Guide to Poison Prevention.