We messies love our pets. But pets can make our houses messier and dirtier. There are few things worse than walking into a house that a dog or cat has “marked.” Here are some tips for keeping your house smelling fresh when you have pets.
The first, most important thing is good housebreaking. It’s much easier to deal with pet odors when pets never learn to use the house as their toilet. (Of course, there will be accidents. We’ll deal with that in a minute.) With puppies and dogs, your best friend will be a pet taxi or home kennel. Put the puppy in the kennel and close the door at night. As soon as you get up in the morning, carry the puppy to the designated potty place and wait for the puppy to go. Praise the puppy like crazy when he does go. Take the puppy out after every meal, after every nap, and whenever the puppy starts to sniff the carpet suspiciously. While you’re away from the house, the puppy should be closed into his kennel. If the puppy has an accident in the kennel, wash the bedding immediately in the washer, and wash out the inside of the kennel so the puppy doesn’t get the idea that the kennel is his bathroom.
With an older dog, follow the same procedure. If the dog has accidents, never let it have the run of the house. Always supervise the dog. Close off any room the dog uses for his accidents. Use a baby gate if you need to. Rarely will a dog “have an accident” with you watching, so if you can stay with him, he’ll do better.
If you have a dog or cat who has always been reliable but is suddenly having accidents, see your vet. He could have an infection or an illness.
Cats are easier to deal with… every cat I’ve had has littertrained himself. The most important thing to remember with a cat is to keep his litter clean. Many cats will tell you they’re upset with the condition of their litter boxes by leaving surprises around the house.
For litter boxes, I like the enclosed ones (I have dogs who consider the contents of a litter box to be a rare treat, so I have to limit their access.) The enclosed boxes have a filter on top to keep the air fresh. Get the litter liners that are like a bag. You put the bottom of the tray into the bag, then set it flat and pour the litter in as if the bag weren’t there. This keeps stuff from clinging to the box and it makes it easier to get rid of old litter.
I use clumping litter. The litter clumps capture all the stuff and you can scoop it out daily and reuse the rest. Do scoop it out daily, or your cat will become unhappy with you and you know what happens then. Replace the scoopable litter as often as recommended on the side of the container. If you use the old-fashioned kind, completely replace it once a week.
If you have more than one cat who share a litter box that you keep clean… but there are still “surprises,” get each cat his own litterbox and see if that changes things.
Cleaning 101: Pet Stains
So you’ve done everything you can, and your pet has had an accident. It must be cleaned up as soon as possible. I like to pour water on the stain and then blot it up with white towels or diapers (you might go through all of your white towels and diapers doing this… hint, save retired bathtowels for this… don’t use towels you currently use in the bath.) Blot really well, then use a pet odor cleaner from a pet store according to the directions in the bottle. (Be sure to smell the cleaner first… some of those enzymatic cleaners smell worse than the pet odor!)
Be sure to wash your blotting towels with detergent, warm or hot water, and a chlorine or non-chlorine bleach.
Cleaning up old stains is a lot more difficult. We’ve had luck using Rug Doctors or a Hoover Steam Vac with cooler water and pet odor remover. We go over the area several times. After it dries, spray Febreze liberally over the site.
If the odor has penetrated to the padding, you’ll probably have to take up the carpet. I recommend replacing it with linoleum or sealed tile. Much easier to clean, and all around better for people with allergies, as well. I would also recommend wood if you seal it very, very well.
Even if your pets don’t have accidents, they can make your house smell less than fresh. There are several things you can do to make your house fresher. Brush your pet regularly and bathe him about once a month. Vacuum as often as possible. With dogs and cats in the home, you should aim to vacuum at least once every other day. Use carpet freshener powders at least once a week. Use a steam cleaner every month or so, at least in the areas your pets hang out (vacuum thoroughly first). Use plug-in air fresheners in most of the rooms in your house. Open your windows regularly to let fresh air circulate through the house.
More Pet Stain Links