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Own a Pet? 4 Ways to Protect Your Plumbing

When you first brought home your frisky kitten or wiggly puppy, you knew that you'd have to make a lot of changes around your home. You understood that your fluffy, furry friend would need some time to adjust to his or her new surroundings, and you anticipated house training and similarly messy activities.

But as you invest in scratching posts and chew toys, don't forget that your newest family member can wreak havoc on your plumbing. The extra hair can quickly clog drains, while the sharp teeth and nails can break through pipes and fixtures.

If you want to keep your plumbing in good shape with a new pet in the home, make sure to follow these simple steps.

1. Use Hair Catchers and Drain Stoppers

No matter if you have a cat or dog or both, you may already understand that some breeds shed more than others. Dog breeds such as the Maltese, the Yorkshire terrier and the Schnauzer only shed from time to time, while cat breeds such as the Bombay, British Shorthair or the Chartreux keep the fur balls to a minimum.

However, even these low-shedding breeds will lose a lot of fur in the bath, and hair can quickly build up and clog your drain before you've finished rinsing out the shampoo. To minimise clogs, place a hair catcher or drain stopper over the drain before each bath. If you have a particularly furry breed, such as a German shepherd or British Longhair, you may need to sweep away the hair build-up from the catcher several times throughout the cleaning session.

Do not flush the dog or cat hair down the toilet when you've finished. Instead, throw it in the rubbish bin.

2. Groom Your Pet Frequently

Your cat may prefer to groom herself, and your young pooch may struggle to sit still long enough for a good brushing session. However, you should still dedicate some time each day (or a few times each week) to grooming your pet.

Although long-haired breeds may need more frequent grooming than short-haired ones, regular brushing dramatically cuts down on fur shed around the house (and in the bathtub drain). Better still, brushing removes mats in the fur, distributes the fur's natural oils throughout the coat and gives you a chance to bond with your kitten or pup.

After brushing, dispose of the fur and hair in the trash, not the toilet or sink.

3. Watch Where Your Pup Digs Outdoors

Many pooches love to dig holes. During warmer weather, a dog may dig into the cooler earth to find a comfortable place to rest. Some breeds, such as terriers, love to dig out of instinct, and they find the behaviour entertaining. And still others dig to bury their food, chew toys or prey.

But if you let your dog dig in the yard, pay extra attention to the location. Your water or sewer line may rest just a few centimetres below the surface, and if your pup digs deep enough, he or she may poke a hole in your plumbing.

If you don't know where your line sits, talk to a plumber about locating it for you. Or, train your dog to dig in a designated area, such as a sandbox or garden bed.

4. Watch Where Your Cat Scratches

Many cats love to scratch almost as much as dogs love to dig. Scratching allows your cat to stretch his or her shoulder and back muscles while simultaneously conditioning the claws. Additionally, cats have scent glands in their paw pads, and when they scratch outdoors, they leave an olfactory mark that lets other animals know your cat is nearby.

However, your cat might not stick to marking trees and scratching at the scratching post. If your cat can't find an object to fit his or her needs, your feline may seek out alternative objects, such as your sofa, your drapes and even your plumbing.

If you have any exposed pipes or electrical lines, use household items to block access. Trim your cat's nails as part of a regular brushing and grooming routine to minimise damage. And place scratching posts in strategic locations around your home.

Talk to a Plumber for Additional Advice

When you follow these four tips, you can keep your pets happy and your plumbing in good shape. However, if you still have regular clogs or if your dog or cat damaged your pipes, hire a plumber to make speedy repairs and ask him or her for additional advice.

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