Wood floors, too, are easier to maintain than carpet if you have a pet. Pick light to medium finishes, lower-luster glosses or distressed woods to help minimize scratches from pet nails. Keep your pet's nails rounded and short to prevent scratches.
If you prefer carpet, consider modular floor-carpet tiles from companies such as Flor because they can be replaced easily in case of accidents, Chwiecko says. Flor will recycle any returned tiles.
What if you have to move? There's no need to replace the floors, as long as they're still looking great.
Pet doorsIf you work long hours or spend a lot of time away from home, pet doors can be a great way to make sure your dog isn't stuck inside the house for hours on end.
Pet doors can be pricey, costing between $80 and $500. But there's an array of options, says Jon Mortensen, owner of Seattle-based PetDoorStore.com, which sells thousands of pet doors each year. There are doors for walls, screens, windows — even sliding-glass doors. Some doors are activated by microchip for more security; others are built to withstand 50 mph winds.
What if you have to move? "It's possible you may have to replace the door, but not certain," says Sharon Berry, a managing broker with Windermere Real Estate in Redmond, Wash. "It's all between the buyer and seller." If the buyer asks you to replace the door, the cost ranges from $700 to thousands.
Latches on cabinets and toiletsChildproof latches can be useful when you have a puppy or kitten that is fascinated with drinking or playing in the toilet or getting into cupboards. It's important to keep pets from getting into food, cleaners and medicine. Lysol-type cleaners, chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts and xylitol sweetener in gum can be toxic — even fatal — for dogs. Spinach leaves, potpourri and acetaminophen, the key ingredient in Tylenol, are extremely toxic for cats.
"Pets can chew through plastic bottles, so keep medicines away from your pets," says Dr. Patricia Olson, chief veterinary adviser for the American Humane Association.
Remember, too, that cats and dogs like to chew on electrical cords, so tuck them away, unplug them or use plastic covers that snap over them. Child gates are an easy way to keep your dog away from certain areas of the house.
What if you have to move? Childproofing isn't a detriment to home value, Berry says. Buyers can remove these features if they don't want them. Childproof latches can be removed easily, as can child gates.
Window screensIf you live in a high-rise with open windows, screens are vital to keeping your pets safe, especially cats.
"People have the misconception that cats have good instincts and won't jump out," says Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in Manhattan.
During warm months, the hospital sees two to four cats a week that are hurt or killed in falls. She says that many people think that bars or child window guards will help, but cats can get through them. Cats will also jump from balconies and fire escapes, she says.
If you rent and do not want to spend money on permanent screens, you could purchase inexpensive, accordion-style screens that fit various-size windows.
What if you have to move? Most houses have screens, Berry says. There's no need to remove them if you sell your house.
Fence"I think good fencing is vital," Chwiecko says. "You're going to have a happier dog, a happier family and happier neighbors."
Invisible fences can be a good option for people whose neighborhoods do not permit physical fences. But many pet experts do not recommend them because they can inflict pain, and some dogs test the fences every day. Some dogs also have also become more aggressive because they associate the shock from the fence with passers-by, Blake says.
If you have a physical fence, ensure it is in good condition and free of loose boards or metal that could hurt your pet or allow it to get out. Another tip: Keep benches and big rocks away from fences; they can be launching points for a dog to jump the fence.
What if you have to move? Good fences make good neighbors and make good overall sense to keep, Berry says.