1. Home
  2. Home insurance

Pet damage: how to stop your animals destroying your home

From chewing chow-chows to scratchy Siamese, we look at some ways you can stop your pets destroying your home.

A pet destroys the floorboards

Cats and dogs claw and chew as part of their natural behaviour. Occasionally our homes can suffer as a result.

As frustrating as it might be, it’s important to remember that your pet isn’t doing this to be naughty.

But how do you stop it? Our simple tips can help you reduce the chances of your pet wrecking your furniture.

 

What are the most common things that pets damage?

According to our research*, pets love to chew the following items:

Item % of pets
Carpets
0.54
Flooring
0.32
Curtains
0.31
Beds
0.29
Skirting boards
0.25
Sofas
0.21
Wiring
0.2

How can I stop my pet damaging my furniture?

The most important thing is keeping your pets safe, but you will want to keep your possessions in good nick, too!

Dogs

Dogs chew usually because they’re bored or because of separation anxiety.

How can I stop my dog from chewing?

If your dog is bored, try getting puzzle toys, such as one that dispenses treats when your dog moves it.

Flavoured chew toys or hide rings also work well to keep your dog entertained.

Alleviating their boredom can stop them turning to wires, the carpet or anything else that feels good to chew.

These tips might work for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, too.

The RSPCA advises using a ‘special toy’ that you bring out only when you leave.

This can be one of the puzzle toys we mentioned earlier.

When you get back, store the special toy away until the next time you leave.

You could also try taking your dog for a walk about half an hour before you leave.

When you get back, give it a small bowl of food.

This might also encourage it to relax and stop chewing.

You shouldn’t be leaving your dog for more than four hours a day.

If you do, it’s worth hiring a dog-sitter to keep it company and provide stimulation.

 

Puppies

When your puppies are teething, they might chew things to relieve irritation.

How can I stop my puppy chewing?

When you notice your puppy chewing something it shouldn’t be, make a loud noise – but don’t shout.

A squeak of a toy or a clicker should work. Once you have its attention give it a toy that it can chew.

Once it starts chewing this, give it a lot of praise.

 

Cats

Why is your cat scratching the furniture? Well, the simple answer is it wants to get muscular.

As cats scratch, they work out muscles in their paws and along their back.

Cats have scent glands in their paws, too. When they scratch, they mark their territory.

The aim of this is to keep other cats away – even if there is no other cat around.

Either way, it’s not ideal, even if your cat does have an impressive six-pack after a good scratch.

How can I stop my cat from scratching my furniture?

To stop this, invest in a sturdy scratching post.

Or if you’re on a budget try laying out carpet off-cuts or even a sturdy piece of bark.

Place these in front of the piece of furniture that your cat likes to scratch.

Plenty of scratching options mean that the cat may be less likely to turn your beloved chaise longue into a feline gym.

For the scenting issue you could try using a spray such as Feliway.

When it gets a nose-full, it’ll think it’s already marked it and – fingers crossed – it’ll leave it alone.

 

How can I pet-proof my home?

When you can’t be on the lookout, these methods might help to prevent your pet destroying your furniture.

For your sofa, you could try a throw.

This will protect it from dog hair and drool marks. Lint rollers work well to clear up any rogue hairs, too.

Set the boundaries. If you don’t want the dog or cat on the sofa, that’s fine. You can get them a snuggly bed to sleep in.

You could also try a pen or a crate to keep your dog in one spot, although make sure there’s plenty in there to keep your pet occupied.

If you want to keep a room in your home dog-free, you could try using a baby gate.

This is useful if you have a puppy as they can see you through the bars, and it might help reduce separation anxiety.

Puppies love to chew wooden furniture. You can use the training methods above to stop this.

Or you could try getting a safe chew-repellent spray. It’s usually a bitter flavour such as lemon or apple that the puppy doesn’t like.

To protect your floors, it’s worth having a dedicated space to clean the dog after a muddy walk. A good place would be the main entrance way.

Keep plenty of towels in this space and dry them off before  they spreads the mud all over the place.

These are also good options if you want to prepare your home for a new pet.

 

Is pet damage covered on my home insurance?

Pet damage has certainly been expensive for homeowners: 95% of people have had to pay out for repairs, with the average cost of pet damage being more than £500.

The bad news is that most home insurance policies don’t cover pet damage such as chewing, scratching or being caught short.

So if you're putting in a home insurance claim for pet damage, don't hold out too much hope. 

Some providers may offer extended accidental damage pet insurance.

So if your dog buries your favourite Fabergé egg or your cat claws your hand-woven tapestry, you might be covered.

But even then, it’s unlikely that everything will be covered. For example, if your pet is unattended when the damage is caused.

Or if they’re sick or they cause damage in the garden, you might find you’re out of luck if you put in a claim.

It’s always worth checking with your insurer to see what exactly you’re covered for.

Compare home insurance quotes

 

What if my dog damages someone else’s property?

You could consider taking out a pet insurance policy that includes third-party cover.

This would cover you for the costs if your dog damaged someone’s else’s belongings or property, which could help prevent neighbour disputes

These policies can also provide cover for legal fees should your dog attack someone, and vet’s fees if they attack another animal.

 

*Figures taken from omnibus research carried out by OnePoll on behalf of Confused.com. This was a nationally-representative poll of 2,000 UK adults. The research was conducted between 23/10/2020 and 27/10/2020.