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Holiday Pet Guests
If you're hosting family and/or friends for the holidays, bear in mind you might be greeting some furry, four-legged guests too. Like your sister's incontinent cat ... or your old college roommate's teething puppy. Brace for impact—these animals might do a number on your home! Which means it's high time to pet-proof your house.
Pets aren't inherently evil, but having them as houseguests can be tricky.
"When a dog or cat spends time in a foreign environment, they may act out due to anxiety," explains Stephanie Liff, a veterinarian and owner of Pure Paws Veterinary Care in New York City.
To help, we've got advice from interior experts who've been on the receiving end of furry guests.
"Frankly, dogs are like toddlers, no matter how young or old they are, so supervision and containment are a must in every home," says Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP.
Here's how to keep the peace when hosting pets (or taking your own furry family members to someone's house).
How to pet-proof your house: Learn local laws
Just as you would check traffic and weather conditions, brush up on pet ordinances, advises Liff.
"For example, in many places in New York City, dogs can't walk on the grass, so check out the rules," she says. Other laws to be aware of include where dogs must be kept on a leash, scooping poop, and the rules on barking.
Watch out for pet threats
"Look for hazards on low counters, including medications on bedside tables and bathroom counters," warns Jamie Novak, author of "Keep This Toss That."
Take note of house plants that could be poisonous or entice dogs and cats to start digging.
"And remove anything under the Christmas tree that your pup might chew," Novak adds.
Also, be sure pantry doors are shut and kitchen counters are clear.
"A dog might be drawn to the peanut butter on the shelf, or he might not realize that plate of bacon isn't for him," notes Darla DeMorrow of Heartwork Organizing.
How to clean up pet pee and other accidents
In case of accidents, "keep carpet stain remover handy—or if you're the guest with a pet, bring a bottle," says Julie Coraccio, an organizing pro at Reawaken Your Brilliance.
Find some distractions
Occupy pets so they don't wind up destroying furniture, digging holes in lawns, and more. A couple of new toys and some tasty treats are good distractions. (When the pet is done playing, corral its gear, so others won't trip.)
And since a tired dog is a good dog, get the pooch outside.
"Using up a pet's energy is an excellent way to ensure the best behavior in someone else's home," notes Gray-Plaisted.
A visiting pet's claws can scratch hardwood flooring and fray carpets. The fix? Put down runners or area rugs in high-traffic areas, DeMorrow suggests.
"And it's totally OK to ask the owner to give her pet a toenail trim before she arrives," she adds.
You can also insist that pet visitors stay in gated areas with more durable flooring, such as the laundry area or mud room.
Let Fluffy hide
Timid animals need a safe spot when the house is full of unknown guests.
"Give your kitty an escape route—because not all pets and people get along—and know that it's completely normal for a cat to crawl under a bed or run to the basement if she's upset," says DeMorrow.