Love Pets? Here’s What to Look for in a House

Make sure Buddy and Bella will have the safe and comfortable spaces they need

By Laura Gaskill  /  Courtesy of

When your pets are like family, you know that when you buy a house, you’re also looking for a space where your furry (or feathered) friends will be safe, healthy and happy. From tough flooring to “catio” potential, here are 10 things to put on your home-buying checklist if you love pets.

1. Tough flooring. Cat claws and doggy toenails can wreak havoc on floors, so look for a house with flooring that can stand up to your pets. Hardwood is great; tile or stone in high-traffic areas is even better.

2. Room for pet essentials. From food and water dishes to litter boxes and pet supplies, our furry friends come with a lot of stuff — and that stuff needs to live somewhere. Look for nooks where you can place the food dishes, litter box or dog bed, plus plenty of cabinet space for food and supplies.

3. Screened windows. Cats love lounging in sunny windows, but open windows, especially on upper floors, can be hazardous to them (and to little dogs too). Look for sturdy screens in every window and screen doors that are in good condition.

4. “Catio” potential. If you have an indoor cat, having a sheltered outdoor area where it can get some fresh air is a big perk. Look for a house with an enclosed patio or an outdoor area that could be easily converted into a catio.

5. Secure fencing. For dogs, a sturdy, secure fence that completely encloses the yard should be a top priority. Look for one in good condition and with a functioning gate. If your dog is highly protective of your property, look for a fence without gaps — seeing people pass by will only make for more barking.

If you plan on keeping chickens, goats or other relatively uncommon pets, you’ll want to be especially sure you have tall, secure fences to prevent escapes and ample space to keep the animals’ housing away from neighboring homes.

6. Outdoor faucet. Whether you dream of designing a special bathing and grooming station or just need a spot to hose down your pooch after a trip to the beach or to fill the backyard water dish, having an outdoor faucet is a must. Look for one located conveniently (i.e., in the backyard proper, not in the driveway) to make dog cleanup chores easier.

7. Covered crawl space. Under the house can be a tempting — and dangerous — place for dogs and cats to explore. Be sure latticework fully covers the crawl space and is in good repair so pets won’t get themselves into trouble.

8. Local ordinances and HOA restrictions. If you have your heart set on keeping nontraditional pets such as chickens, ducks or goats, make sure to check the local ordinances before committing to buy any property; rules on keeping animals can vary widely from town to town. And if the home you’re considering buying has a homeowners association, be sure to look into the bylaws for details on the type and number of pets allowed. Some HOAs even restrict dogs (and barking!).

9. Room to run and play. The larger and more athletic your dog, the more outdoor space you’ll want to have, though even small dogs will appreciate having some open space. Ideally, look for a large, fully fenced yard without close neighbors.

10. Friendly, walkable neighborhood (and pet-friendly neighbors). Having safe sidewalks, green space and nearby dog parks are all good things to look for if you’re a dog owner. It’s worth finding out whether the immediate neighbors have dogs as well; talk to them to see how they feel about dogs, or even take your dog for a walk in the neighborhood to see if any dogs go nuts. And whether you own a dog or a cat, living away from the busiest streets will give you some peace of mind.