Addressing 5 Pet-Related Issues Before Selling Your House

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Real Estate

Pet Image Gallery Dogs and other pets can be destructive, causing serious damage that can hurt the value of your home. Check out these pet pictures to see what we mean.

Selling your home can be challenging, but selling it when you have pets can be even harder. You may be surprised to learn that owning a pet can significantly reduce your home’s value [source: Tuttle]. Pets, such as dogs and cats, can cause scratches, odors, and other types of damage that you may not even notice, but that potential buyers are likely to spot during a walk-through. To ensure that you get the highest possible sale price, you need to stage your home properly and eliminate any signs of pet ownership and destruction. This means addressing any major damage caused by your pets that would catch a buyer’s eye (or nose). Quick fixes may work for some issues, but more significant problems may require more extensive repairs or replacement altogether.

Even if your home is in good condition and you’ve kept it clean, owning pets could decrease its value by up to $30,000 if buyers notice pet-related issues [source: Tuttle]. If you’re not sure where to start addressing the damage your pets have caused, check out the top five pet problems that you must fix before selling your home.

5: Landscaping and Exterior Damage

The most noticeable pet-related issue outside is holes in the yard from a digging dog.

The exterior of your home is the first thing that potential buyers will see, so it’s important to check for signs of pet damage outside. Assess your landscaping and the exterior of your home for any issues. The most obvious problem to address is holes in the yard caused by a digging dog. Fill any holes (big or small) before showing your home to buyers. To stop your dog from digging further, you can try filling the holes with rocks or bricks and then covering them with dirt. Giving your dog plenty of exercise and chew toys can also help prevent digging [source: Deneen]. Another issue to watch out for in your yard is damaged plants. Dogs and cats often chew on plants and shrubbery, so replace any damaged greenery and keep your pets away from new plants until you sell your home.

Pets can also damage your porch, deck, fences, and the exterior of your home. Inspect these structures for scratch and chew marks. You can fix most of these issues with sandpaper, wood filler, plaster, and paint or stain. If your deck or fence has a liquid stain, make sure you use a waterproof primer to seal in the stain so that it doesn’t reappear [source: Kilz].

4: Damage from Chewing

Pets often chew on anything within their reach, causing damage to your home. It’s important to thoroughly inspect your home to identify any chewing damage, including along floor trim, door thresholds, corners of doors and cabinets, carpets, window ledges, and screens. It’s best to replace chewed or frayed carpet, as repairing it may not remove the odor from your pet’s saliva. If your furniture shows signs of chewing, consider storing it while you’re showing your home to potential buyers.

Exercising your pets and providing them with a variety of toys can help prevent chewing issues and is important to keep in mind while showing your home [source: Deneen].

3: Scratches

Pets can cause scratches on walls, trim, cabinets, furniture, and floors. It’s important to carefully inspect your home and consider having hardwood floors professionally refinished if there is significant damage. For scratches on walls, trim, doors, and cabinets, sanding followed by Spackle and fresh paint can effectively repair them. For stained wood cabinets with significant scratching damage, it may be necessary to replace the door. Make sure to repair any scratches before showing your home to avoid deterring potential buyers.

2: Stains

Pet accidents can cause stains on your carpets, flooring, drywall, trim, and furniture. It’s important to address these stains before listing your home because they will be noticed by potential buyers. Simple spot treatments may not be effective, and it may be necessary to replace stained areas with new patches of carpet and carpet pad. Stains on laminate and vinyl floors should also be replaced.

If your pets have fleas, it’s important to hire a professional to eliminate them from your home before listing your home for sale. This will prevent potential buyers from leaving with flea bites [source: Evans].

If there are stains on your walls or trim, it’s best to replace them. If that’s not possible, you can try using an odor-free primer to properly seal the stain and pet odor. Odors are the primary issue that should be addressed before selling your home. They are noticeable and challenging to eliminate, which could cause buyers to reject your property. To effectively remove odors, you need to identify where they come from. Even a leaking fish tank can cause an unpleasant smell. If your pet had an accident, replacing the affected area is the best solution. Odors can also reside in drywall, trim, and furniture, so it’s best to remove or replace them. Vacuuming daily can also help eliminate odors caused by pet hair, dander, and sweat. Additionally, pet hair can harm your HVAC system, so it’s crucial to have it professionally maintained and cleaned regularly.

Additional Information

Related Readings

  • Explanation of the Process of Pet Microchipping
  • 8 Tips for Eco-Friendly Pet Care and Cleaning
  • 5 Tips for Home Staging: What to Do and What to Avoid
  • Test Your Knowledge with the Home Selling Smarts Quiz
  • Overview of How Pet Insurance Works

Sources of Information

  • Deneen, Sally. “Dogs That Dig.” Retrieved May 28, 2009 from Accessed on February 27, 2011:
  • Evans, Blanche. “Are Your Pets Soiling Your Chances of Selling Your Home?” Retrieved October 21, 2009 from Realty Times. Accessed on February 27, 2011:
  • Matsushita, Elaine. “Pet Damage at Home: Removing Spot’s Spots.” Retrieved July, 2009 from Make It Better. Accessed on February 27, 2011:
  • Pandey, Leslie. “Selling a Home When You Have Pets.” Retrieved March 28, 2007 from Accessed on February 27, 2011:
  • Raynor, James. “Selling Your Own Home? Pet Issues.” Retrieved January 30, 2009 from Real Estate Magazine. Accessed on February 27, 2011:
  • “Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?” Retrieved from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed on February 27, 2011:
  • Tuttle, Brad. “What Do Pets Do to the Resale Value of Your Home?” Retrieved November 10, 2010 from Time. Accessed on February 27, 2011:
  • “Which Kilz primer should I use for this job?” Retrieved from Kilz. Accessed on February 27, 2011:
  • Whiteley, Dr. H. Ellen. “Home Remedies for Cats.” Retrieved from Accessed on March 4, 2011:


1. How can pets affect the value of my home?

Pets can have a significant impact on the value of your home. For example, if there are pet odors or stains on the carpet, it can make your home less appealing to potential buyers. Additionally, if your pets have caused damage to the home, such as scratching doors or chewing on baseboards, it can result in costly repairs that could affect the sale price.

2. What should I do with my pets during showings?

It’s best to remove your pets from the home during showings. This will prevent any potential allergies or fears from turning off potential buyers. Additionally, having your pets out of the way will allow potential buyers to focus on the home and its features.

3. How can I minimize pet odors in my home?

To minimize pet odors, it’s important to clean regularly and thoroughly. This includes washing pet bedding, vacuuming carpets and furniture, and cleaning litter boxes and cages. Additionally, using air fresheners or opening windows to allow for fresh air circulation can help keep your home smelling fresh.

4. What should I do if my pets have caused damage to my home?

If your pets have caused damage to your home, it’s important to address the issue before putting your home on the market. This may include repairing scratches, replacing damaged flooring, or repainting walls. It’s important to remember that potential buyers will be looking for a home that is move-in ready, so addressing any pet-related damage is crucial.

5. Should I disclose that I have pets when selling my home?

Yes, it’s important to disclose that you have pets when selling your home. This will allow potential buyers to take any necessary precautions, such as cleaning or replacing carpets, if they have allergies or concerns about pets. Additionally, being upfront about pets can help build trust with potential buyers and prevent any surprises during the sale process.

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