Home sweet Home Top tips for making sure your home is an appropriate & safe environment for your pet

By definition a home is an enjoyable, happy place where you can live, laugh and learn. It’s somewhere where you feel safe, warm and are loved, respected and cared for. This feeling extends to how our pets perceive the homes where we live. Nevertheless, when designing our house to make our own living and daily tasks as easy and as comfortable as possible do we ever consider the impact of this environment on our pets? For our furry friends performing mundane tasks such as eating a meal or walking from one room to another can be made extremely difficult due to the environmental factors at play. In today’s blog we are going to be discussing ways in which we can ensure our homes provide an appropriate and safe environment for our pets.


Flooring:

In recent years the popularity of laminate and tiled flooring has grown tenfold. That’s not surprising when its durable, attractive to look at, easy to install, affordable and most importantly stain resistant therefore making it super easy to clean. However, for our pets this wonder flooring can be their worst nightmare. For them walking on laminate or tiled flooring can be the same as walking on a slippery surface such as ice. In order to balance they need to walk slower, take smaller steps and increase muscle tone throughout their trunk in order to make themselves more stable. However, when they are engaged in play or try to move more quickly, maintain muscle strength is much more difficult and can lead to over-strain and soreness, especially where there is already a joint disease or weakness. A loss of balance on this hard slippery surface can cause them to fall over leading to injury. Now I’m not saying that you need to go rip up all your beautiful flooring and replace it with carpet but by using mats and carpet runners in areas when your pet plays or walks provides grip making their life much easier and safer.


Sleeping:

An adult dog sleeps on average between 12 – 14 hours per day whereas cats can sleep as much as 12 – 16 hours per day. Therefore, just like we do they require a comfortable supporting bed all of their own. Sleeping on a hard surface such as the floor can be damaging to their health. Unlike the floor, a bed will keep your pet warm, support arthritic joints and prevent calluses. When choosing a bed for your pet you need to ensure that it provides adequate soft support to prevent pressure points and allow for enough space for change of positions during sleeping periods. The bed itself needs to be placed in the house in an area away from drafts and for older dogs raised off cold flooring to help reduce post rest soreness.



Eating:

For most animals (especially my dog) meal time is by far his most favourite time of day. Feeding from the floor can provide neck joint and muscle activity and encourage stretching along the spinal muscle groups. However, dogs and cats with reduced neck movement/mobility

raising and securing feeding bowls and providing a mat to stand on can make consuming their meals much easier. Especially for our elderly pets.


Jumping:

when jumping the force exerted through the forelimbs can be 4.5 times the body weight of the animal (depending on the speed / height of the jump). Repetitive exposure of this excessive force can lead to acute injury and/or long term degeneration. Now if you are anything like me I like nothing more than after a long day at work a good snuggle on the sofa with my fur baby however, jumping onto and off sofas, beds, worktops and in and out of cars especially in small / arthritic dogs can put unnecessary concussive forces through the joint. Small dogs in particular have been noted to jump on and off furniture approximately 30 to 40 times a day, amounting to 25,000 jumps per year and over a typical 12 year lifespan equates to more than 300,000 jumps. Additionally, these numbers do not take into consideration jumping in and out of cars, lap dives and the occasional “banzai” leap from the back of the sofa. Where possible, you should be lifting your cats and dogs on and off sofas and in and out of cars. Ramps can also provide an alternative and easier solution especially if you are not always around to

lend a helping hand.


Stairs:

The average home contains between 12 – 18 steps between floors and each step is

on average 8 inches high (the same height as the average toy breed of dog). Most dogs will make on average 12 trips up and down the stairs per day totalling more than 131,000 steps per year and 1.5 million steps in a lifetime! Stairs are an added hazard in the home especially for small dogs as they increase the risk of falling as well as instigating premature joint wear caused by the impact of scaling stairs. Preventing your pets from using the stairs is the best solution to dog proofing your staircase but I understand many owners like to provide their pet with free rein of your home. In this case certain behaviour


For further information regarding pet proofing your home, or if you would like to book your animal in for a physiotherapy session, please contact The Vet Physio Centre for details.