Selling Your Home With Pets

We delve into all there is to know about selling a house with pets, including how to prepare your home and where to take your pet during showings.

By Emily Southey | 13 minute read

Oct 13

Selling Your Home With Pets

Do you have a beloved pet at home? Many sellers live with dogs, cats, and other animals, and while we understand the joy a pet can bring into your life, selling your home and pets don’t exactly go hand in hand. 

What to Do When Selling a House With Pets

When selling a house with pets, there are a few steps sellers should take. First, get into the mindset of the buyer. Although you might be a dog lover, not everyone is, and ultimately, you’re not buying your home, someone else is. The goal is to make your home appeal to as many buyers as possible, and since you’re likely to encounter at least a portion of buyers who do not like pets, removing your furry friends and all traces of them is key. After all, you wouldn’t want to risk losing out on a potential offer simply because your resident dog started barking and scared off a buyer. Second, before selling a house with pets, make sure to eliminate all traces of them. This means clearing out any pet beds, litter boxes, toys, or food, vacuuming all pet hair, cleaning the floors to ensure they’re free from paw prints, and making the home smell as fresh as possible. You’ll also want to ensure there is no poop or toys visible in the front or back yards.

What to avoid when selling a house with pets

There are few no-nos when it comes to selling a house with pets. Even if you’ve arranged for your pet to be elsewhere during showings, certain evidence left behind can be enough to turn off buyers. Check out the following list of items to avoid when selling a house with pets.

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  • Litter boxes: If you have a cat, make sure you remove its litter box. Consider storing it along the side of the house or in the garage — somewhere out of sight. Make sure to clean the litter box prior to each showing. 
  • Smells: As you probably know, pets come with some pretty unique smells. At this point, you’re probably so used to it that you don’t even notice any lingering odours, but rest assured, a buyer will notice. For this reason, eliminating any strong pet odours prior to showings is crucial. Trying to mask pet odours with air freshener, scented candles, or freshly baked cookies isn’t enough. If you’ve had a pet in the home for a while, you will also need to deodorize the house. This will likely involve deep cleaning the home, as well as steam cleaning the carpets, washing all fabrics, and using an ozone machine. 
  • Poop on the premises: If you have a dog, make sure you’ve cleaned up all the poop in your yard before each showing. 
  • Fur: If you have a dog or cat in your home, then chances are they’ve shed some fur at some point or another. To rid your home of animal hair, which at best looks unclean and at worst could cause an allergic reaction in a buyer, sweep and vacuum before each showing.

Selling Your Home With Pets Checklist

If you have a pet and plan to put your home on the market, follow the checklist below before listing your property. 

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  • Steam clean the carpets and upholstery 
  • Put all fabrics and linens through the washing machine
  • Thoroughly sweep and wash the floors
  • If your pet has a history of accidents on a particular rug or piece of furniture, consider removing the item altogether (even just temporarily) 
  • Feed your pet outside the home before your showing (pet food smells linger) 
  • Put away all pet beds, toys, food canisters, water and food dishes, and leashes
  • Arrange for someone to watch your pet during the showing
  • Mask any remaining pet odours with scented candles, home-baked cookies, or air freshener

Options for Pets When Selling Your House

Before selling their home, sellers must consider what they plan to do with their pets during showings and open houses. A few popular options are below.

Hire a pet sitter or dog walker

Pet sitters are professionals and are a great option if you’re looking for someone to watch your pet during showings. Alternatively, you could also hire a dog walker to take your dog for a walk during a showing. 

“The goal is to make your home appeal to as many buyers as possible, and since you’re likely to encounter at least a portion of buyers who do not like pets, removing your furry friends and all traces of them is key.”

Ask a friend or neighbour

Do you have a friend or neighbour who knows your pet and is willing to look after them? Great! Arrange to drop off your furry friend in advance of the showing and pick them up when the showing is over. 

Consider boarding your pet 

If you don’t want to be constantly uprooting your pet every time there’s a showing, consider boarding them until you’ve accepted an offer. There are plenty of reputable kennels and catteries that might be able to look after your pet for an extended period of time while you sell your home. 

Last resort: Keep your pet in a crate out of sight

If you simply cannot part with your pet during a showing, restrict their movement by putting them in their crate. Put the crate somewhere most buyers won’t see it, like in the garage. 

Pet Problems to Fix Before Putting Your Home Up for Sale

The most common pet problems to fix before selling your home are listed below. 

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  • Damage to your home’s landscaping/exterior: The outside of your home is the first thing a prospective buyer sees, which means taking care of these problems is a great first step. Some of the most common examples of outdoor damage include holes in the lawn (dogs that love digging are often the culprit) and chew or scratch marks on fences, porches, and decks. 
  • Scratches and scuff marks: Scratches and scuff marks are present in nearly every home, but there’s bound to be more of them in houses with pets. Carefully assess your home, noting any scratches or scuffs, no matter how small. Check the obvious spots, like floors and walls, as well as cabinets, trim, and furniture. If you have hardwood floors, you may want to consider having them professionally refinished if your inspection reveals many scratches.  
  • Damage from chewing: Chewing is a common problem with many pets, especially young pets. Some of the most popular things pets chew on include the corners of furniture, cabinets, baseboards, and doors. While you can try to repair any damage done, you might be better off replacing any items with major chew marks, especially since the scent from your pet’s saliva may pose an additional problem. 
  • Fleas: If your pet has fleas, then odds are so does your home. Take your pet to the vet to rid them of fleas and then hire a pest professional to remove them from your home. Fleas may seek refuge everywhere from your carpets to your furniture. 
  • Stains: Stains, no matter their source, are a major turnoff to buyers. Not only are they unsightly, but if they came from your pet, they may also have an unpleasant smell. Unfortunately, spot treatments often aren’t enough to remove serious stains from pets. Instead, you may need to replace stained areas with small patches of carpet or new flooring. If replacing parts of your flooring is out of your budget, you should at least look for an odour-free primer.
  • Odours: Removing pet odours should be your top priority when selling a home with pets. After all, pet odours can be strong. If you try to sell your home as is, the smell alone could deter buyers. So it’s important to do everything you can to deodorize your home. Remember that pet odours live everywhere — furniture, drywall, floors, baseboards, and more. Your pet’s dander, as well as their sweat and skin oils, are usually what create these odours. Do what you must to not only mask but neutralize them as much as possible.

Eight Tips for Selling a House With Pets

To ensure that selling a house with pets goes as seamlessly as possible, follow the eight tips below.

1. Make arrangements for your pet to be out of the house

The best solution for selling a house with pets is to arrange for your pets to be elsewhere during all showings and open houses. There are several reasons for this. First, some buyers might be allergic to animals while others simply may not like them or be scared of them. Further, when some people think of pets, they might also think of dirt, smells, and hair. This can be a major turnoff. Ultimately, you want your home to appear as clean as possible, and the presence of pets can ruin this illusion. 

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When arranging for your pet to be elsewhere, you have several options. For example, you can drop them off at a friend’s or neighbour’s, hire a pet sitter or dog walker for the day, drop them off at a pet daycare, or board your pet at a kennel.

2. Only agree to scheduled showings

If you’re selling a home with pets but do not want your pet to be present during showings, then scheduled showings are a must. Discuss this with your realtor in advance. State that you need a minimum of 48 hours’ notice (or longer) before all showings. You can even proactively request that your realtor only schedule showings on certain days of the week so you can make arrangements even further in advance. Note: Before scheduling showings on certain days only, make sure your friend, pet sitter, or daycare has availability on that day. 

3. Reach out to your vet 

Selling a home can be incredibly stressful, and pets can pick up on stress and anxiety. In addition, they’ll take notice if the smell of the home starts to change, if their favourite belongings are being packed into boxes, or if they’re being shuttled around between friends and neighbours for weeks on end. For this reason, we recommend speaking with your pet’s veterinarian before your first showing. Your vet can likely offer some advice on how to reduce your pet’s stress levels and keep them calm during the home-selling process. They might even be able to give you some suggestions on how to get your pet adjusted to your new home.

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4. Eliminate all stains and smells

As mentioned above, removing any traces of your pet (namely, stains and smells) is crucial before showing your home. While scented candles and cookies can be used to make your home more enticing, they won’t necessarily mask strong smells like pet odours. For this reason, you’ll need to deodorize your home well in advance of your first showing. This means steam cleaning your carpets and furniture, opening all windows, scrubbing the floors, washing all linens and fabrics, replacing what can’t be cleaned, and using an ozone machine. Just before each showing, you’ll also want to clean and remove the major offenders, like your cat’s litter box or your dog’s poop from outside the house.

5. Remove all signs of your pet

Just as you remove all personal effects in your home before selling, you should also remove all signs of your pet. This means pet beds, food, leashes, collars, toys, water and food bowls, crates, and more. Not only will this help remove unwanted pet odours, but the lack of clutter will also make your house look and feel bigger. 

6. Assess and fix the damage

The reality is that if your home has a pet, they’ve likely caused some damage. Even the best-behaved animals accidentally scratch the floors, chew on furniture, leave scuff marks on windows, or gnaw on the baseboards. Therefore, before you list your home, make sure you assess the damage and fix it. Furniture and carpets are usually where pet damage is the most visible, so start there. If you need to eliminate odours, you’ll likely already be steam cleaning your carpets and upholstery. However, if after being cleaned scratch or bite marks are still visible on upholstered furniture, consider adding a furniture cover or having the item reupholstered. Other ways to repair pet damage include revarnishing hardwood floors, cleaning the windows, and scrubbing the walls. Though repairing pet damage will likely cost a bit of money, doing so could increase the value of your home and lead to a higher offer price. 

7. Spruce up the front yard

Curb appeal is everything, but believe it or not, pets can ruin it. For example, if your front lawn is littered with dog poop or your beloved furry friend enjoys tearing up the grass or digging holes, it’s best to spruce things up before listing your home. Top up any holes with fresh soil and grass seed, which can often be purchased from your local landscaping centre or hardware store. In addition, survey the lawn for poop and clean it up before every showing. The last thing you want is a prospective buyer walking around your backyard or up your walkway and stepping in your dog’s feces. Other non-pet-related ways to spruce up your home’s exterior and boost curb appeal include touching up the paint on your front door, cleaning the windows, mowing the lawn, weeding, trimming back overgrown shrubs and trees, planting flowers, and adding a colourful wreath to your front door.

8. Don’t forget about the neighbour’s pets

Our eighth and final tip for selling a home with pets is not to forget about your neighbour’s pets (if applicable). Does your next-door neighbour have a dog that’s constantly barking in the driveway? Does the home across the street have a cat that often wanders into your yard? A dog that’s constantly growling at the fence can be a major turnoff for prospective buyers. To avoid a neighbour’s pet influencing a buyer’s decision to make an offer, consider speaking with your neighbour in advance. Explain that you are trying to sell your home and have showings scheduled for certain days and kindly ask if they would be willing to keep their pet(s) indoors during those times. If they refuse, try and figure out a way to mask the noise, such as with a fan or fountain.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Why don't homebuyers like pets?

The reality is that not all homebuyers dislike pets. However, it’s impossible to know which buyers like pets and which don’t. More importantly, you also don’t know if some prospective buyers are allergic to pets. This is why it’s safer to remove your pet (and all signs of your pet) before showings. You wouldn’t want your pet’s presence to prevent an otherwise-interested buyer from making a sale. 

Is it harder to sell your house with pets?

Yes, it can be more difficult to sell your house with pets. Pets can be a turnoff for buyers. Maybe they are allergic to pets, are scared of certain animals, or simply don’t like them. While the latter might be hard to fathom, the reality is that having your pets present during an open house or showing often does more harm than good. A pet’s presence can also make a prospective buyer worry about the cleanliness of the home, which could prevent them from making an offer. 

Which pet odour is harder to take out when selling a home?

If you have a dog or cat in your home (or any animal with fur), it sheds dander, which ends up in your home. In addition, all animals secrete skin oils (just like humans), which can also contribute to the odour in the home. Ultimately, there is no one pet odour to avoid when selling a home. However, it is harder to remove pet odour from certain materials, such as carpet. If your home is carpeted, consider hiring a professional cleaner who can steam clean your carpets or buying an ozone machine. 

Can my pets be present during a house showing?

There is no rule preventing your pets from being present during a house showing. However, it is generally not recommended, especially if your pet is not particularly friendly or could distract or scare off buyers by barking or being too excitable. So if you have a pet, try to arrange for a friend, neighbour, or pet sitter to watch them during showings. 

Emily Southey

Wahi Writer