Pet-friendly ideas for your home

Even if a friendly tail wag did not greet you at the front door, it can be evident that a pet lives there when you walk into someone's home. It could be the smell of pet odor. Or maybe it's those telltale tufts of shedded hair swirling in the air as the front door shuts. Today's homeowners, however, are actually designing and redecorating living spaces with their pets' needs in mind, turning pet-friendly decorating into a full-blown trend.
"You can have a beautiful house and a pet, too," says Julia Szabo, pet columnist for the New York Post. She recommends using forethought and discipline to keep your house pet-friendly.
Vigorous vacuuming is a must, of course, even if you don't see pet hair and especially during those times your cat or dog is shedding. Because you may be immune to it by now, you may not realize that pet hair has an odor. It also contains an oil that will attract dirt to the fabric upon which it falls. Szabo suggests you invest in a powerful vacuum that can collect and contain all that hair.
Want everything to stay cleaner? Then bathe and groom your pets regularly. Trimmed nails won't scratch floors, ruin upholstery, shred drapery or make your screen doors look like modern art. Routine brushing and bathing can remove loose hair that can end up on your floor, your bed, your curtains, and even your food. It's a heck of a lot easier and less expensive to clean your dog than your upholstery, and it's usually a more fun exercise.
Let's put the idea of having silk, chintz or the velvet furniture and drapery surfaces to rest. Szabo has evidently discovered the joys of a fabric aptly named Crypton, a synthetic fabric resistant to stains, smells, bacteria, and even muddy paws. Or consider leather and leather along with its wannabes. All good choices, easy to clean and durable. Then there are those yummy fake suedes and pet-friendly machine-washable microfiber fabrics that stand the test of time.
Speaking of washable, make sure you use only washable fabrics on your bed if your furry friend snuggles up to you at night. Cats barf and dogs sometimes can't hold it, especially when their bladders are not yet fully mature. And there is that perpetual licking they do to groom themselves (just as you're trying to fall asleep), some of which includes slopping on your bed coverings in the equation. You can protect your mattress from the inevitable by covering it with a thick pad and use a washable duvet cover for your expensive down comforter. And for those of you who like a touch of texture, matelasse coverlets are surprisingly durable due to their tight quilting, resisting toenail snags and enduring repeated washings.
Your floors are, of course, your furry friends' domains. If you have the option of replacing carpet with hardwood, vinyl or tile, you'll find it a win-win situation. No matter which type of carpet you put down (low pile is best if you must have it), it will absorb odors, traps pet hair and soaks up inevitable pet-related stains like a sponge. Talk to your flooring contractor about which hard-surface flooring is best for your needs.
And lastly, consider your pet's lifestyle. If you permit your dog to go into and out of the house at will, make sure the area through which he or she accesses the backyard impervious to damage and can be easily cleaned off. Keep dog-towels (those you deem less than desirable for humans but not ready to trash) nearby for wet feet. Believe it or not, some newer homes include a pet shower in their mudroom/laundry area, enabling dog owners to tidy up Fido on a regular basis without having to use a bathroom tub.
Your pets are lifetime residents, whose needs are as great if not greater than your own since their only focus is you. Planning around their lifestyle, then, is a tribute to their loyalty and love as well as your own.