It's a Dog's Life!

As much as we love our pets, they can create extra cleaning for us, but that shouldn't put you off having them! The DSPCA shares their advice for a clean home with pets.

Between muddy paws, fur on floors and furniture, odours and occasional accidents, we can spend quite a bit of time cleaning up after our furry friends. Since pets will never be able to clean up after themselves, here are some suggestions for undoing the most common pet messes.

Minimize the Mess
Taking a bit of time to train your pet, some advanced planning and preventative measures will make keeping your house clean with pets much easier and less time consuming in the long run.
• To prevent frequent accidents, try to set a scheduled time to take your dogs out to do their business.
• If cats are your thing, help them learn to use their litter boxes. It’s much easier to clean a litter box than your floor. To help prevent litter being brought onto your floor by your cat get a covered litter box and put a litter box mat in front of it to help catch the litter from your cat’s paws. A covered litter box with a filter can also help with odours. You need to clean your cat’s litter box contents out at least once a day and give the whole litter box once a week. Getting your cat neutered will also help to minimize spraying, male cats like to spray their scent around their homes but neutering will deal with this issue. The same applies for female cats that are looking for mates, neutering deals with this as well. Use nappy bags to scoop the litter box contents into, you can tie a knot in the bag and keep all the contents as well as the odour in.
• Stop dirt at the door! Before your pet has a chance to run through the house leaving muddy tracks use an old towel to wipe muddy paws at the door. If paws are really muddy or have winter salt or grit on them rinse them in a small bucket of warm water and dry them with an old towel. Keep a towel at the door so you don’t have to try and find one while trying to keep your pet from trailing mud into the house.
• Their bedding will need a quick shake outdoors regularly and washing every week or so. Cover their bedding and cushions with easy washable blankets or covers, this helps to minimize the amount of dirt and odour getting onto their main bedding cushions.
• If your dog or cat prefers to sleep on your bed or upholstered furniture cover their favourite nap location with a towel or small blanket that can be easily washed. This works well for cats and small dogs that always have their favourite perches for keeping their eye on things and napping.
• Training your pet to stay out of your bedroom or by just closing the bedroom doors will help to minimize the amount of dirt and hair getting onto your bed clothes. Dogs and cats love their comforts and your bed can also be a firm favourite with them.
• Once a week or so, sprinkle a deodorizing powder on your carpet. This will help to keep your carpet smelling fresh. A greener and cheaper option is to use baking soda. Baking soda doesn’t have an odour, so if scented deodorants aren’t for you, this is the alternative. Leave it overnight if possible to let it soak into the carpet for best results.
• An electric air purifier will remove pet odours still lingering in the air and keep your house smelling fresh.
• Letting a pot of vinegar simmer on your stove will also keep your house smelling fresh. The vinegar neutralizes, deodorizes and removes impurities from the air. The smell isn’t pleasant but it’s better than the alternative.

Cleaning your Pets Beds
• Never use bleach or other products containing ammonia for cleaning as ammonia is in urine and your pet will think it is urine they are smelling.
• Your pet has a favourite pillow it snuggles up with. This is all well and good, but every now and then you might want to make it smell a little less pet like. You can do this by sprinkling the bedding with baking soda, letting it stand for at least 15 minutes, then vacuuming thoroughly.
• Clean the cat litter pan by removing the soiled litter and pouring in 1/2 inch vinegar. Let it stand for ten minutes or so, then pour out and dry. To control odours before filling again, sprinkle 1/2 cup baking soda over the bottom of the pan. Don’t forget to clean the litter scoops as well.
• Some people have environmental and health concerns about the type of cat litter available commercially. Pregnant women especially are at risk for a virus called toxoplasmosis, which can be contracted by handling cat litter, the litter box, or the box liner. Try to keep your cat's litter box area clean at all times to reduce the risk, but pregnant women should avoid handling anything to do with cat litter for the duration of their pregnancy.
• Most bird and rabbit cages, ferret houses, hamster homes, and the like can be adequately cleaned by wiping them down with a sponge sprinkled with baking soda or dampened with vinegar. Both of these are especially good with urine smells and stains. You might also want to add a thin layer of baking soda on the floor of the cage after cleaning to help control odours.¬
• When it's time to clean out the fish tank, clean the inside of the glass with plain non-iodized salt by sprinkling it onto a damp sponge and scrubbing. This will remove hard water deposits or other build-up on the glass. Rinse everything well before returning the fish to the tank.
• Vinegar and Baking Soda are only two types of cleaners available, there is a host of other cleaners available in shops.

Removing Pet Hair
• There are different methods to wipe up pet hair, use light, even strokes to remove the hair:
• Use a lint brush – velour or tape will both work
• Wrap tape around your hand will also work
• Wipe with a damp sponge or cloth as long as the dampness won’t harm the area
• Wipe with a wet rubber glove.
• Use one of those special pet rake rubber brushes with nubs on it that is intended for grooming pets (available at pet stores).
• On carpeting, use a vacuum with a good beater brush or brush roll. Plain vacuums don't generate sufficient lift to pick up all the pet hair from the floor.
• Also, a quick vacuuming job, especially on sofas and bed every day is a good idea, but once again a quick swipe with a lint brush or roller is good if you don’t have time for daily vacuuming. Pick a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Pick a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Pick a vacuum with a Sealed or True HEPA filters if you have pets, these are best for vacuuming up pet dust and hair.

Lifting Stains
• To remove a pet urine stain first off, damp some paper towels or rag with water and use it to wipe the urine up. You want to do this as soon as possible so that the urine does not penetrate the material. It’s best to use white paper towels and rags so as not to transfer dye to your carpet or upholstery. DO NOT RUB the carpet, blot the area, and dilute the spot using a cloth dampened with water. Then, clean the area with an acid solution consisting of one quart water mixed with one teaspoon white vinegar.
Another option is for you to apply a pet bacteria/enzyme digester like Urine Off according to the directions. You can find these products at any pet store; they effectively counter both the stain and the odour.
• Even if the stain has disappeared or our human noses can no longer smell anything, a pet will repeatedly return to the same spot if they can still smell the odour.

Here are some other hints:

• Be sure to use enough bacteria/enzyme digester to penetrate the carpet and pad.
• Keep in mind that digesters work well but slowly. Leave the solution on as long as indicated.
• After applying the solution, cover with plastic and step on the spot several times until the area is well saturated.
• Keep the plastic on the entire time the digester is working to make sure the spot doesn't dry out.
Once you are satisfied that the stain and odour are gone, keep placing clean paper towels on the spot until it is dry. If the stain is on the carpet I find that standing on the paper towels gets the job done quicker. If time is a constraint, place a heavy object to weigh the papers down.
If after all this there is still an odour, sprinkle some baking soda on the spot and leave overnight, and then vacuum.
• Avoid using a steamer to clean pet stains or a hairdryer to dry them. Heat causes stains and odours to set, making them virtually impossible to remove.
• If you smell pet urine but can’t quite locate the stain, a black light may be in order. Be prepared for a rude awakening, however, as these lights will expose all your carpet’s impurities and may send you running for a professional.
• Don’t use ammonia or acid-based product to clean your carpet, a pet may mistake this scent for the smell of its own urine and continue to use your carpet as their toilet.
• If none o f the above methods work, contact a professional carpet cleaner. They’re experts and will have the stain removed and your carpet looking like new in no time.

For more wonderful pet related feature and animal care advice please visit www.dspca.ie