Pet-Friendly Patio Tips
Think about what you enjoy most about your patio. Maybe it’s watching and listening to the birds, smelling the flowers, or just lounging in the sun. Animals can enjoy the same experiences, and with a few small changes, you can customize your space to bring real appeal to your pets and savor outdoor time together.
Think Safety First
As you create your outdoor patio plan with pets in mind, consider how to keep pets safe on a patio. You’ll want to treat balcony spaces differently than a dog-friendly deck with stairs down to a fenced yard. Also consider the climate in your area to customize your outdoor space.
- Think about temperature. Provide cooling and shade options in the summer and warming options for colder weather. Be sure to keep water available at all times, which may mean investing in a heated water dish for winter. A raised dog bed keeps air flowing for comfort on hot summer days, and a heating unit keeps dog houses warm in colder seasons.
- Pet-proof balcony railings. Whether you need to create a fully enclosed space for your cat to roam freely, add fine wire or plastic fencing to prevent small dogs from slipping between rails, or construct other barriers, ensure that your pet can’t find a way out of your patio enclosure, especially if you’re not on the ground floor.
Create Sensory Appeal
Taking your furry friends outdoors is a great way to stimulate their senses and keep them entertained and curious. Think about ways to bring outdoor experiences to them while still keeping them safe and comfortable. Give them something to watch – a bird feeder or squirrel feeder can keep both dogs and cats entertained with endless visitors, but be conscious of where you place it to keep wildlife safe from feisty paws.
For curious felines, consider creating a “catio” or other cat enclosure that gives them space to roam and play without your having to worry about a harness and tether. Incorporate ramps and shelving at varying heights for climbing and exploring, lounge spots with plenty of sun, and shady nooks to hide. Don’t forget to put out a few of their favorite toys to encourage their hunting instincts.
Grow pet-friendly plants such as cat grass or catnip for kitties or create a dog sensory garden with calming chamomile or lavender plants, energizing rosemary or mint, and wheat grass or barley grass that can help with digestion. These plants can be safely consumed by dogs – just be sure to avoid using pesticides.
Keep in mind plants can be tipped and pots damaged when pets play, so choose items that you don’t mind replacing or suffering a few dings. Be sure to consult a list of pet-safe plants when choosing flowers or greenery that pets may be able to access, even if they’re not grown especially for your pet to consume, and use hanging planters to keep questionable or precious plants out of reach.
For small outdoor space or balcony living, you may also want to create a place for dogs to relieve themselves that’s easy-to-clean and has plenty of items to sniff around. Cats may avail themselves of potted plants, so provide a litter box if they’re going to be outdoors for an extended period of time.
For animals that may become overwhelmed with too much outdoor time, consider building a pet door from your patio to your inside space so they are able to come and go as they please. See our pet door buying guide to find the perfect fit for you.
Pet-Friendly Patio Furniture and Accessories
Once you have most of the pet-focused parts of your space planned, fill in the blanks with comfortable outdoor furniture for yourself and guests. The best pet-friendly patio furniture features waterproof cushions with removable and washable covers, scratch-resistant materials such as resin, metal, or wood (avoid wicker and woven materials that can entice cats to sharpen their claws), and durable upholstery such as Sunbrella that’s easy to wipe clean of pet hair and debris. Round out your space with all your pets’ favorite accessories. Bowls, water fountains, beds, and houses keep them comfortable and happy when enjoying everything nature has to offer.