New Year... New House... New Health Problems?

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Both humans and pets are at risk - what you can do

Information on the health risks that paint and new carpets can cause in cats and dogs and natural remedies for the treatment of symptoms.

Given the state of the economy, many people are deciding to stay put and invest in home renovations, a growing trend which has accumulated to over $500 billion dollars worth of home improvement products and services in the past year, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Common Symptoms from Carpets, Fire Retardants & Paint

  • Upper respiratory irritations
  • Headaches
  • Skin rashes
  • Shortness of breath or cough
  • Fatigue

Rare but Serious Symptoms

  • Damage to the thyroid
  • Impaired immune system
  • Cognitive problems

However, during this time, humans and pets are exposed to countless chemicals and foreign substances, most commonly paint fumes and new carpets.

While research isn’t conclusive on the effects of carpet installation on pets, many humans report symptoms in themselves and similar reactions in their pets, which can likely be attributed to the volatile organic compounds found in most carpets, in addition to adhesives, stain protectors, mothproofing and flame retardants, which contain PBDE's (known to pose serious health risks).

While painting poses less of a long-term risk since health effects such as headaches and respiratory problems tend to diminish as the paint dries, the best advice is to speed up the drying process.

What’s more, pets are especially vulnerable to exploring new territory and objects, so construction supplies such as nails or open paint containers can pose deadly risks.

Health & Safety Tips


  • Choose only low- emission carpet, padding and adhesives
  • Inform yourself on the Carpet and Rug Institute's installation guidelines
  • Be sure the area is well-ventilated during installation
  • For those extra sensitive, avoid the area for 48-72 hours after installation
  • Vacuum the carpet to remove loose fibers


  • If possible, choose a low-humidity day to paint
  • When humid conditions are unavoidable, rent or buy a dehumidifier and/or fans
  • Fans facilitate better air flow when combined with open windows, speeding up the drying process (and helping eliminate odor)

To ease anxiety and discomfort that may occur in your pet during this time, especially when a pet is secluded off in a room away from the construction, leave toys or comfort items around to help alleviate stress.

If you are moving to a new home, many of the same issues apply. However, you can plan in advance and follow the same precautions, including doing a thorough house inspection for any supplies left behind before bringing your pet(s) in to help ensure a safe, pleasant transition.

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