By Ashley Watson
For most people, getting the deck ready for summer means hosing down the patio furniture and pulling the grill out of storage. But what if you have pets? Whether you have dogs, cats, or both, you’ll want to make sure that your pets are comfortable and safe while they keep you company outside. You don’t have to spend a fortune to update your deck. There are plenty of frugal tips on turning your outdoor patio or deck into a pet-friendly place to relax.
Easy to Clean Rugs and Furniture
If you have a wooden deck, you know that splinters can be a real pain, for you and your pet. Outdoor rugs are a great way to protect paws and bare feet from splinters. Make sure you put down rugs that are weatherproof to prevent mold growth, and hang them to dry after it rains. Straw or acrylic blend beach mats are a great solution; they are inexpensive, easy to clean, and the material resists mold and mildew. Try to find outdoor furniture that has removable cushions that you can clean easily. Old pillows or pet beds are another solution if you have a covered deck.
Uncovered decks can be great if you are looking for a tan, but for your pet, it can be dangerous when temperatures start to rise. Make sure you provide some type of shade for your pet, either in the yard or on the deck. Large umbrellas are one option, but if there’s no place for a pole, you can also find retractable awnings that are reasonably priced and easy to install. Make sure your pet has access to plenty of clean water, and wash the water bowl daily to encourage your pet to stay hydrated. Lying in cool water is one of the fastest ways for dogs to cool down, so buy a cheap kiddie pool and place it in a shaded area.
For new or refurbished decks, consider building it with a composite material that resembles wood but will not splinter or crack. Composite decks are easy to install, and there are a variety of style options. Tile or slate is another option if you can find a place that offers stone materials that are chipped or too flawed for indoor use. Using non-wood materials to build your deck also discourages dogs from chewing on edges or railings.
Gates and Railings
Safety is a concern for dogs and humans on an elevated deck. If you bought a home with a deck, make sure the railing is secure all the way around. If the railing has openings small enough for your dog to fit through, you can protect your dog with outdoor safety netting. You may have to shop around to find the cheapest price, but there are plenty of options out there for any railing or deck size.
You might consider installing a gate that swings out of view when the gate isn’t closed. This opens up the area for smaller decks and also provides an enclosed space when needed. Weather stripping on steep stairs can help provide traction, and if you have an older pet, you can always build a ramp from reclaimed wood or other materials.
What are some of the ways you’ve made your outdoor deck or patio more pet-friendly? Share your photos or ideas with us on Facebook!