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My Pet World: How to keep your pets safe when painting inside your home

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

We’re painting the inside of our home. We’ve got two birds. What kind of paint do you think we should use? Also, we’re going on vacation for a week. Would that be sufficient time away for the birds? – Dee, Sheridan, Michigan

Dear Dee,

Fumes from a freshly painted room can be lethal to your feathered friend. There are harmful chemicals in paints called Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. Basically, these are chemicals that are released into the air and can “off-gas” in the home for several years.

When painting with a bird, other pets or even children in the home, look for low-VOC or zero-VOC paints or paints that are labeled Greenguard certified. There are many major brands that offer these paints now. They aren’t really VOC-free; it just means they have low levels.

Keeping your bird (and other pets) away for a few days is a good thing to do. When you return, open all the windows to let the home air out and keep your bird in a well-ventilated area for a few extra days.


Dear Cathy,

About 10 years ago we adopted a small male poodle. He had been let go because he was aggressive toward the man’s wife. Unfortunately, we have the same problem. During the day, he is lovable and friendly with everyone, including me. He comes to me for attention and to be petted. My husband is elsewhere at these times. However, in the evening when we both relax in the family room, he sits beside my husband, and he is likely to attack me if I make any movement. Needless to say, he is very attached to my husband and always wants to be with him. He tolerates others near my husband grudgingly.

I don’t know if this extreme attachment causes over possessiveness or if it is a form of protection. At the moment, we cope by restraining him, but obviously this is not ideal. He has been prescribed Fluoxetine HCL 10 mg twice daily. Any suggestions to correct his behavior? – Margaret and Walter, Newport News, Virginia

Dear Margaret,


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