What Pet Owners Need to Know About Homebuying

Pet ownership is on the rise, and many pet owners who shop for new homes put the well-being of their furry friends at the forefront of their home buying process. 

According to recent statistics, 66 percent of U.S. households currently have a pet or plan to get one in the future, meaning that pets play a significant role in selecting a home. Most pet owners consider factors like home size, pet-friendly features within a home, and a neighborhood that is convenient to a vet and has enough outdoor space for their pets.

Most importantly, 68 percent of real estate clients say animal policies influence their decision to rent or buy in a community. Realtors must be prepared to provide home buyers and sellers with the best options when accommodating their pets.

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the features of a pet-friendly home. 

Features of a pet-friendly home 

Open houses don’t always give shoppers enough time and freedom to check a home for pet-friendliness. Take full advantage of the home inspection timeframe to assess the details that will ensure fido or fluffy feel safe and comfortable.

Here’s a quick overview of what many pet owners look for when choosing a new home.

Fenced yard 

A fenced yard is a big item for many pet owners since it allows furry friends to spend time outside and enjoy the sun anytime. This is especially important for those pet owners who spend a lot of time working because if a property has no outdoor space, their pet could be stuck inside all day.

During an open house and home inspection, be sure to walk the full length of the yard and fence, if there is one. Keep an eye out for any hazardous plants or areas with poor or holey fence coverage. These will be key items to address as soon as you take ownership.

Proximity to traffic

Consider scheduling your home inspection during peak traffic hours to get a sense of the danger nearby roads may pose to wandering dogs and cats. While it may not be realistic to back out of the home sale in case of dangerous traffic, it will give you an idea of how cautious you need to be.

Roaming space 

There are many reasons people want to buy a new home. Recent statistics show that some homebuyers move for the sole reason of providing a better home for their pets. If this describes you, be sure that you’re shopping for homes with ample space. This will allow roaming animals to have multiple “safe” spaces in the house or to simply get a change of scenery throughout the day.

Durable flooring 

Good-quality, durable flooring is fundamental if you have pets because it will likely go through a lot of wear and tear in a few years. This is especially true if you have big dogs who are active and like to play around the house.

Features of a pet-friendly neighborhood 

Aside from choosing a property with pet-friendly features, many pet owners also look for a neighborhood that can accommodate their pets and make walking around and spending time with them more accessible. Check these features out using online tools like Google Maps and business listings and by asking for referrals from friends and family.

Walkability

A pet-friendly neighborhood should have a good variety of safe walkways where you can exercise with outdoor pets. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to live by a huge park or off-leash area. Instead, look for accessible roads with full sidewalks and street lamps for darker winter outings. For those who live in cooler climates, consider how snow and ice may prevent you from walking your pet, and what alternative options are handy.

Dog parks

While a dog park is not the most common feature in many neighborhoods, it’s great for pet owners who want to ensure their pooch gets enough exercise. A regular park is also a good idea, but as a pet owner, you must be mindful of other visitors who might not always be keen on sharing their space with animals. 

Proximity to a vet and pet sitting

A close distance to a vet is also a component of a pet-friendly neighborhood. If you have animals in your household, you don’t want to be far away from the nearest vet.

If boarding or pet daycare is part of your regular care routine, be sure that there’s an option nearby that you have fully vetted and know will accept your animal. You can also scope out neighborhood Facebook groups to assess the availability of petcare.

HOA rules allowing pets 

When buying a house, don’t forget to check if your HOA rules allow pets. Not every neighborhood allows pets, and if you found a dream home for you and your four-legged companions, clarify if your HOA rules are on board with it. 

What the experts say about house shopping and moving with pets

Shopping for a home and moving with your pets adds an extra challenge, but it can also be a lot of fun. Remember that the moving process can be just as hectic and stressful for your pets as it is for you. From helping your pet get used to new surroundings to making new friends in the neighborhood with whom they can play, there are many things you can do to help them with the transition. 

What are some crucial home improvements a new pet owner can make?

Pets are like kids on four legs. It takes a moment and they’re entangled in wires pulling down computers and sending charging  phones flying across the room!  Electrical sockets, wires and equipment are an integral part of our lives but we can make them safer for our pets. 5 quick tips for you:

1. No loose dangling wires- tie up any loose cables with cable ties or casings  (especially for those curious cats)

2. If you can fix wires along a wall or crevasse it keeps them out of the way of humans and pets

3. Do you have enough wall space? Fix gadgets such as TV's to the wall wires so cables automatically run down walls and reduce chances of curious paws swatting at them!

4. Use clips to affix cables and wires to walls (if you are renting this of course depends on the rules)

5. Avoid toys (Pet toys) which resemble long cylindrical items. To your cat or dog telling them apart especially when they are young differentiating can be difficult. If it does not look like a toy- it will not interest them.

-Jeru from Oliver Pet Care

What are some crucial home improvements a new pet owner can make?

For the safety of your pet and your peace of mind make sure your new property is fully fenced and pet proof as soon as you move in. Check all gates are secure and that your pet has plenty of access to shade, water and somewhere comfortable to hang out (or even better install a cat/dog flap for easy self-access in and out ). Your pet will feel a sense of familiarity and comfort if you set up their bed/crate, toys and feed area as soon as your move in. A blanket with a familiar smell will help your pet feel safe and remember- always check for toxic plants both indoors and in the garden to ensure your pets safety. Happy homecoming!

– Lili & Dave from Share My Pet

How to make your house accessible for your senior pet?

There are various ways in which pet owners can make their homes more accessible and safe for their senior pets. Some options can be bought in pet stores or online and some can even be made at home!

First and foremost, provide ample soft, warm, easily accessible places to sleep. Ideally, a nice cosy bed on the ground in a sunny spot. As cats age, their joints can become stiff and their bones fragile, so it’s best if they don’t need to jump to get to a nice nap spot. You can also invest in a heated bed if necessary. The same goes for the litterbox. Make sure it’s in a good spot and that it’s easy to get in and out of. You’ll want to make sure all your cat’s necessities are on ground level.

You can also install some cat stairs and ramps to make your senior cat’s favourite spots more accessible. Here are some easy DIY plans. If there are dangerous areas in your home that could be a risk for a senior cat (like stairs or balconies), you should consider closing off those areas with cat gates. You can also invest in raised food and water dishes to make eating and drinking a bit more comfortable on the spine.

-Isabel Ludick from Excited Cats

How to help your pet to adjust to a new environment?

As an animal communicator, I have found that communicating with animals about what is going on helps them adjust to changes. When you speak to them clearly, animals telepathically get the images and feelings behind the words. They then understand why the move is happening and how it will affect them and the people they love. They usually calm down and feel part of the transition rather than confused or anxious.

-Penelope Smith from Animal Talk

How to make your windows and doors pet safe?

We can all agree that pets can be wildly unpredictable, and trying to eat garbage, drinking inappropriate liquids, or putting themselves in physically dangerous places is their talent. So their protection needs quite the planning. We suggest starting from the basics – look for openings in the yard fence, holes (old drains, wild animals holes, egress wells, etc.), doors, and windows that are not closing well or can be easily opened.

There are numerous quality flap doors out there that can help with managing your pet’s access. They can be added to any door or window, including glass doors and sash windows. If you have a glass door, a stick-on door protector or a reflective film can discourage your pet from scratching the door and trying to get out. There is a similar simple solution regarding the windows by pulling the curtains infront of the window. As elementary as it sounds, works in most cases.

In addition, introducing window well covers to your egress escape and rescue openings is essential to keep the pets from harming themselves while playing in the yard. If you are a house owner, you will agree that leaving an open egress well is not the best idea when you have pets. We have seen pets, wild animals, and even people fall into the wells numerous times. The solution is to add a good cover, which will prevent everyone from harming themselves and still have an IRC code-compliant egress opening.

But why have an ugly plastic attached to your home when it can be much sleeker? There are numerous options to have a custom-made safety grate with powder coating to match your exterior or an “unbreakable” polycarbonate window well cover made from class-like material that is exceptionally sturdy that lasts a lifetime. Most importantly, remember that the egress requirements to have your home code-compliant are the opening to be at least 5.7 square feet and between 8″ to 10″ deep.

-Monica Kuneva from Window Well Experts

How do you create a garden oasis for your dog?
The best way to create a garden oasis for your dog is to make it as interesting as possible. Include different textures for them to sit / lie on, a variety of dog friendly plants to sniff, and maybe some activity toys with tasty treats that they can move around and work out how to obtain the rewards inside. Think of all the senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, taste and provide something interesting for each sense.

-Sally Marchant from Naturally Happy Dogs Team

What are the main features of a pet-friendly home?

Depending on the type of pet you have, take a moment to consider the space from their viewpoint. What would help make them feel wanted like they belong?


The best pet-friendly spaces meet their needs. For instance, “jungle” cats like to be up high (think tree top perches), so they can survey and “control” their domain. Bush cats prefer to be hidden away under things, then pop out when it’s safe or they want to scare you as you walk by which is great fun for kitties.


Pets should have their own furniture, toys, beds, water and food areas, and room to play. Anything they can get into trouble with or could be at risk of being knocked over and broken needs to be secured. Electrical cords look like snakes to cats, but if they bite through them they can electrocute themselves. Pets need room to run around safely when they have a case of the zoomies.
Create pet-safe quiet areas for naps and retreat times. That’s especially important for the easily overstimulated or skittish personalities.


Cats need to be able to smell themselves to feel they own the territory and belong here, also warning other animals that this space belongs to them. For that they need scratching posts, and proper litter box placement, places to rub their cheeks on and leave their scent.


Dogs need to be with their pack to feel safe, not isolated all by themselves which is a punishment for pack animals. Create a special place for them in the family room areas so they feel included. 

Val Heart, The Real Dr Doolittle, specializing in solving problems with pets and founder of The Heart School of Animal Communication at ValHeart.com