Pets can give us many benefits such as companionship and comfort as well as they have been proven to be a boost to your overall mood and health. Hospitals use animals to cheer patients up and raise their morale and it has been shown to improve patients desire to thrive. Service animal have been trained to save your life in case of seizures or get help or guide you when you cannot as well help with conditions such as PTSD. While pets can bring all these benefits, there are some risks with animals, and they multiply with multiple pets. This article will cover some of the risks that animals provide and offer some solutions below so both you and your pets can live in a happy and safe environment.
Animals can be messy as they can’t clean up themselves or tell you if they are unhappy with their conditions and will try to vocalize in other ways we interpret as bad behaviors. These bad behaviors could be going outside of the litter box, while it may seem like a lazy animal it could be their way of vocalizing a health issue or they are unhappy with the condition of their litter box. Not only is waste outside a litter box a mess, it can also be hazard to your health and your home.
Ammonia – Urine
Cat urine contains ammonia which can be a hazard to your respiratory system if you have asthma or allergies and fills the room with odor. It can also cause a burning in your nose and eyes. Typically, one or two animals couldn’t produce enough ammonia to really affect your health even if left untreated for a while, however a house with many cats and if the urine isn’t cleaned properly could lead to health problems. You may also become “nose blind” to the ammonia smell, however your guest won’t be, and it will be a noticeable problem.
Biohazards – Feces, Vomit, & Blood
Vomit, feces, and blood are considered to be a biohazard. Blood contains pathogens that can cause illness in humans and vomit and feces carry bacteria which also may make you or your guest sick. These also could be a danger to your other pets as well. When cleaning it’s important to make sure the area is properly cleaned by cleaners and you aren’t just removing the stains, as the bacteria may be deeper in the carpet or padding.
Broken Bones – Tripping
Smaller animals may be hard to see or may suddenly jump in front of you and cause you to trip as well as larger animals just bumping into you causing you to fall and break a bone. Having multiple animals multiplies this risk.
Illness – Cuts from Scratches or Bites
Animals might seem clean; however, they walk all over the floor and use a litter box or go outside bringing bacteria with them in their paws and claws. A small scratch might seem harmless; however, it may come with bacteria which can either make the cut infected or make you sick with an illness. Larger dogs will use their paws to get attention or alert you and may cause cuts as well due to their size and weight. Bites from animals may happen even if the animal loves you, in some cats they will bite you lightly during play however as you age this bite might be enough to break skin and cause bacteria from the mouth to enter the wound.
Water from the urine or water bowls may cause water damage. When water is absorbed by wood, it may either warp or crack, usually this has to be a significant amount such as when a pipe leaks or there is flooding, however if there is a large amount of urine over time not getting dried, it may result in water damage. However, you should try to dry any spilled water as soon as you can because another danger of moisture from the water is mold growth.
With added moisture of urine, food, or water bowls, mold growth could occur. Mold absorbs the organic material it rests upon, which means while it may look like a small patch of mold on your wall or floor, beneath the mold it may be breaking down your floor or wall weakening the area. Mold can also be a health hazard to those susceptible to respiratory issues or are allergic to mold. You should also be aware mold may hide in the carpet padding which wouldn’t be visible however it may have a musty smell as an indicator.
Damage due to biting or scratching
Cats will sharpen their claws on anything they see available. These could be your chair or curtains, which might not be a health risk with the exception of a cat pulling something down on top of you such as a curtain rod, scratched furniture or curtains are a sign of house neglect. Some dogs will chew on furniture such as the legs of a chair or table which could result in broken furniture failing with you in it as well as a sign of house neglect.
It is understandable to have 1 area that is damaged due to a pet as replacements will also get damaged, however if you have multiple animals tearing up multiple pieces of furniture around the house it’s a sign that you may be too overwhelmed and have started to let your home conditions suffer. It’s a slippery slope on how much you can let conditions fall before the conditions around your house aren’t a safe environment whether from bacteria due to animal waste or full of tripping or falling hazards due to animal toys clutter or broken furniture.
There are a few solutions to help reduce some of the risk listed above.
Litter box Issues
A self-cleaning litterbox will help ensure even if you forget to clean the litterbox, it will be clean and should prevent cats from going outside of it due to being unclean. Using better quality food and having access to plenty of water will help animals have a healthy system which should also prevent them from going outside the litterbox due to health reasons. You
Enzyme cleaners are formulated to clean up vomit, feces, and urine and leave the area safe to use again. Follow the instructions on the cleaner to properly clean the area. Regular cleaning with a steam cleaner will also ensure a safe sanitized environment for you and your pets.
Alcohol swaps and Bandages
Having prepackaged alcohol swaps or a spray bottle to quickly clean the area and bandage it as soon as cuts and scrapes happen. It should be noted however some don’t recommend using alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to clean a wound and recommend using water and mild soap instead. Make sure to clean wounds as soon as they happen to prevent illness or infection.
There are cleaners specifically designed to clean fungus such as mold. If you smell a musty smell or see visible mold use the mold cleaner as directed on the bottle and if you suspect a larger mold issue you can call an industrial hygienist to have a mold test performed.
There are some standing scratching posts than can be placed near a piece of furniture that your cats have chosen as their desired scratching location. Use catnip or other attractive scents to motivate them to use the post rather than the furniture.
Place mats under the water bowls to prevent water from spilling onto the carpet. Try to get ones with a lip so any water that does spill will not go past the mat. Alternatively, you may also buy a larger “fountain” type water bowl that has a running pump and filter to clean the water and due to its size is usually too heavy for a cat to spill. There are some mats designed to capture litter from cat’s paws that can be placed outside a litterbox to reduce the chance dirty litter is spread throughout your house.
Training for Behaviors
You may look into training your animals to reduce a few bad behaviors. These could be behaviors such as getting in front of your walking path, to prevent tripping risks, or other behaviors such as scratching the furniture or spilling food/water bowls over. There books, videos, and guides online as well as your local pet store and they may have some contacts for recommended professional behaviorist.
Having multiple animals increases risks and responsibilities. You don’t want to find your environment conditions deteriorating due to being overwhelmed by extra tasks that you can’t keep up. Look into online resources and communities of animal lovers for more tips and resources so you can continue to have a save home and potentially reduce the number of animals you have by finding them known loving homes that can handle the extra work.