While our pets may be fantastic company, they can also be smelly and dirty and carry germs and parasites such as fleas. Balls of pet hair, urine stains on the carpet, droppings, shavings, or feathers getting into the most unusual places are all problems that many pet owners struggle with regularly.
Don't let this put you off owning a pet though; there are lots of easy ways to ensure that your pet and your home stay fresh and clean.
Keeping Pet Hair at Bay
If you have a dog, cat, bunny, or another small furry that sheds their hair, this is likely to be your biggest and most frustrating task.
The Power of a Good Vacuum Cleaner
Your vacuum cleaner needs to be capable of picking up pet hair effectively. It should have powerful suction, work well on all surfaces, and not get clogged easily by excess hair. You want one with a good filter that is easy to empty. It needs to get into all the tough-to-reach spaces, have tools for use on upholstery, and, ideally, should be as quiet as possible to minimize any stress for your pet.
Regular Grooming Is Important
While it is true that no amount of grooming will completely prevent shedding, it can make a huge difference, and it also helps maintain a healthy coat and skin.
There are many grooming tools designed specifically for shedding, and one of the most popular of these is the Furminator.
Other Pet Hair Removal Products
There are a number of other products, including lint rollers and rubber brushes, that can be useful for removing hair from upholstery, clothes and other soft furnishings.
Removing Urine Stains
While we all appreciate the perils of toilet training a new puppy, accidents can happen with cats, bunnies, and other small animals too.
Making sure that you clean up any urine or vomit stains quickly and thoroughly is essential from a hygiene perspective, to eliminate any odors, and to minimize the risk of the pet going back again to the same spot. Pet urine is strong, and you may think you have managed to clean it all away. But often, the uric acid lingers. Products that contain enzymes that neutralize the uric acid are often most effective. Always blot up as much excess urine as possible before applying the solution.
If you are worried about accidents you may not have noticed, you could invest in an ultraviolet light that will highlight any offending areas.
Of course, making sure that you work hard on toilet training your dog, cat, rabbit, or even a bird if they have a lot of cage-free time, should be a priority when they are first brought home to help minimize the number of accidents. If your dog, cat or rabbit is prone to spraying or scent marking, it may be worth speaking with your vet about spaying or neutering.
Regularly Cleaning Bedding and Housing
Whether it is washing your dog's or cat's bedding, or cleaning out a bird, small animal, or reptile enclosure, it is crucial that you keep up a regular cleaning schedule. Dirty cages can lead to a smelly home, discomfort for your pet, and a build-up of germs and bacteria that can even result in disease or infection.
If your cat uses a litter box, it should also be cleaned out regularly, and the quality of the litter you use can make a big difference. A hooded litter box will also help to contain stray litter and odors, as well as offering your pet more privacy. Vinegar can be great for dissolving any hard-to-remove urine build up. High-quality, absorbent bedding material can help to minimize offensive odors and may mean that cleaning does not have to be done quite as regularly. Psst! Don't forget that it is possible to litter train a rabbit too!
Any cage or enclosure must be safe and the right size for your pet. Some designs will contain stray bedding or droppings more effectively than others.
While reptiles and fish are probably some of the cleanest pets to keep, their tanks or vivariums can still become smelly, and if they get too dirty, it can be unsightly and even a health hazard for your pet. The bedding you use in a vivarium will depend on the type of reptile. Coconut fiber is a popular, environmentally friendly option for minimizing any odors.
Good cage hygiene is vitally important in helping to ensure your bird stays healthy as well as helping to minimize smells and excess feathers gathering in the home. Don't forget about the bowls and toys too; these can harbor germs if they are not regularly cleaned.
Picking the Right Cleaning and Air Freshening Products
Make sure your chosen cleaning products are safe to use around your pet. Always read the labels and do your research. Avoid strong, caustic products like bleach. Some people choose to make their cleaning products. This can be more economical, more environmentally friendly, and allows you to avoid the use of harsh or problematic ingredients. Just be sure to get approval from your vet before using any DIY natural solutions.
Essential oil diffusers are popular for using to freshen up the home, but certain essential oils can be hazardous to use around any animals (cats and birds are just a few animals that are particularly sensitive to them), and it will likely be better to find an alternative solution altogether.
If you do suspect that your pet has been poisoned by a toxic substance, you should contact your vet immediately or call the Pet Poison Hotline.
Preventing Fleas on Your Pets. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Common Problems in Aquatic Turtles. VCA Hospitals.
Cage Hygiene in Birds. VCA Hospitals.
Essential Oil and Liquid Potpourri Poisoning in Dogs. VCA Hospitals.