Now that it’s winter, you finally have the chance to plan that custom deck addition you want. Then, when summer comes and it’s finally built, you’ll be able to sit out in comfort and grill or perhaps watch the clouds or your kids run around and play with the dog. It’ll be nice. But something to consider while drawing up designs is your pet. How do you plan to keep them safe, comfortable and healthy?

Dog enjoys deck

(Pixabay / birgl)


One big thing to think about when designing a porch with your pet in mind is the material. For example, composite decking is harder to splinter and crack than its wood counterpart. So, if your kids like to race your four-footed friends and take it to the porch, they’re all less likely to get big splinters in their feet and paws.

Another important matter to think about when considering porch materials is whether or not your pets will chew on them. Certain woods are toxic to people and animals, so if you want a wood deck, make sure you choose building materials that aren’t going to make them sick. And along those lines, use non-toxic treatments, just in case the rails become the next chew toy.


Speaking of the deck rails, it’s very important to space them out properly. If you have a raised porch, especially a balcony type, you don’t want your pets, or kids for that matter, squeezing through and falling. To avoid this, you need to make sure the bottom of the railing is low enough and the top is high enough to prevent anything from crawling underneath or jumping over. That will depend heavily on how good of a hopper your pet is, but three inches is a good low and three feet is a good starting height. Also, make sure the rods aren’t too far apart either. You don’t want to break your new porch trying to get their heads unstuck.

If you already have a deck and don’t want to change it, you could add a fine mesh to stop them from squeezing through, too.

Managing the temperature

Dogs overheat a lot faster than humans do. To prevent this, there’s a lot you could do when designing your porch. One obvious option is to create shade. You could install a hole for an umbrella pole, but if you think that would be unsightly or too much hassle, another option is installing a retractable awning. This is also a good choice if you already have a deck and just want to make some minor changes.

Another very important thing is water. There are kiddie pools designed specifically for dogs, for a reasonable price, so if you want to provide them with a place to rest and cool down, that’s a good option.

They’ll also need something to drink. Consider investing in an outside water bowl for your pets. Just be careful about which one you choose. Steel bowls absorb the heat and they’ll just make the water warm, so while it might hydrate, it won’t cool your dog. Plastic is a better option.


Plants add a nice touch. They smell good and some of them taste good, too. If you want to keep a garden on your patio, feel free. Just know that certain plants can make animals sick, so if you want to avoid veterinarian visits and vomit clean-ups, look into non-toxic plants. The ASPCA has an extensive list of what’s okay and not okay for our animal friends.

If your dog is allowed in the more expansive part of the yard, avoid the harmful pesticides. Of course, sometimes you need those pesticides because of that pesky fungus or worm in the grass. If that’s the case, keep the dog in the house so it doesn’t get sick.

Other tips

  • Mind the gaps. If you don’t have any gaps in your deck, the rain could puddle up. Not only could this possibly damage your patio by making it warp, crack or rot, your pets may end up drinking from it and getting sick. The airflow could also help keep the dog cool on hot, sunny days.
  • Lock it up. If you need to contain your pet on the porch, consider getting a locked gate.
  • Cat comfort. For the cat that gets lost, get a little cat room that connects directly to the house. Give it nice mesh walls with layers and posts for climbing. That way, it’ll get off those video games (literally) and outside.

Even though it’s cold and wintery right now, and will be for the next few months, you can still plan out and design your revamped yard so you and your pet can enjoy it in the summer. If you want tips and ideas, you can also check out a custom balcony installer in Colorado like SRI Decks


  • Nate Barrett

    As the President of SRI Decks, my greatest satisfaction comes from the immediate sense of fulfillment that our work brings. From the initial design discussions with our customers to the moment we capture the final project in photos, I feel an immense pride in my team for their dedicated efforts. My passion for hands-on work and outdoor projects is matched only by the joy I derive from seeing a delighted customer when we’ve successfully completed a job. Fun Facts: I like hot chocolate in my coffee. I’ve been with SRI for 12 years, prior to ownership. I have a daughter, 3 dogs and a loving girlfriend.

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