It’s fair to say that life with a dog is rich, rewarding … and sometimes distinctly on the nose. They can also bring fleas and other parasites into the picture, and if the four-legged member of your clan is not quite there yet with the toilet training, well, let’s just say the smell can be blush-inducing when surprise guests drop in. The good news is, with a little planning and some go-to products in your arsenal, your home can stay clean and odour-free.
Rule one: the cleaner the dog, the cleaner the home
If you wouldn’t walk a pair of muddy boots through a clean house or leave smelly shoes lying around and expect it to stay clean and fragrant, the same should be said of your pooch. “If your dog is muddy, smelly, or carrying his body weight in grass clippings or has fleas or other parasites, then you can guarantee your house will too,” says Marc Jarvis, marketing manager for Vileda at Freudenberg Australia.
Use a mild pet shampoo and clean your dog once a month (sooner if there are any mud or swimming incidences of course!). “Every dog is unique and so are the needs of their owner – if your dog spends a lot of time in your bed or on your couch, more frequent washing is needed, but keep in mind washing more than once a week can dry out your dog’s skin,” says Lorren Godfrey of Rufus & Coco. If you don’t feel your dog can make it through the week without a wash, perhaps use a spritz with a deodoriser, like Rufus & Coco 4in1 Pamper Spray, or a wash without water, like Rufus & Coco Water Free Wash. “If you have a dog that sheds routinely, you don’t want to bathe them too often; if you have a non-shedding dog, they will need to be bathed much more frequently,” Godfrey says.
Seek advice from your vet about flea and parasite control products (you can even use your smart phone to set a monthly reminder). Regular outdoor grooming will also remove loose hairs, leaving less to drop indoors.
Jarvis says as pets are likely to spend a fair amount of time on their beds, it makes sense to clean it regularly with a mild washing detergent – for ease of washing, choose a bed that is washing-machine safe.
Cleaning up “accidents”
Samantha Cheesman from from UrineFree says it’s best to get in and clean up urine as soon as possible. “Start by blotting up as much of the liquid as you can. Using a special bio-enzymatic urine removal product, like UrineFree, saturate the affected area and cover with plastic wrap and leave as long as possible to allow time for the biological action to work.” Cheesman says not to use other odour products such as baking soda, vinegar or bleach, as they can coat the urine and make it harder to treat.
If you have the scent of urine in a room, but can’t find the source, using a urine detector can help. Dried urine will fluoresce under darkened conditions. Once located you can then use your urine removal product – even on old stains and smells.
Cheesman says cleaners like bleach will not help remove the smell; you’ll notice it growing stronger within hours of cleaning, and the ammonia in the bleach attracts dogs back to the area.
Dogs will shed hair, and as well as being unsightly, it can leave rooms heavy in hair with a distinct whiff of dog. “Use washable covers on couches, chairs and other pieces of furniture that pets like to sit on, so they can be easily and regularly cleaned – again, go with fabrics that are easy to machine-wash,” says Jarvis.
The floor will wear a fair percentage of lost hair, so time-saving sweeping instruments will lessen your load. If you have the budget, there is a range of electronic vacuum “robots” that will move themselves around your floors, then return to base to recharge themselves, he says. These do carry a price tag in the several hundreds, so a broom or flat microfibre mop offers a more economic solution. “Rubber brooms are exceptionally effective at sweeping up hairs and are easy to clean, as there are no fine bristles for the hairs to get caught in. A flat mop with microfibre head is another good option – they attract the hairs to the mop, so a simple sweep over the surface will remove the hairs and other dust,” he says.
Clean up on aisle dog
What to do when your dog has skidded in with mucky feet or wiped themselves over your walls or couches, leaving a mix of slobber and drool? The quickest fix for walls is sugar soap and warm water, mixed to scale in a spray bottle and wiped off with a damp microfibre cloth. It’s best to spot clean as much as you can with tracked mud to avoid spreading it about – Jarvis says you should sweep it up with a rubber broom, then mop the area thoroughly.
Keep windows and doors open as much as possible, keeping the fly screens closed, says Jarvis. Aroma reeds offer a low-maintenance option that provide a pleasant, slow-release scent, though you’ll need one per room to be effective. Essential oils and potpourri are other great natural scent solutions.
The cleaning kit for every dog-friendly home
- Microfibre cleaning cloths – cut back on your use of harmful chemical cleaners by using microfibre cloths to dust and wipe up spills or messes.
- Vinegar, sugar soap and bicarbonate soda for surface and wall cleaning.
- Flat micofibre mop – these attract hair and dust fibres, making for a quick sweep through the house. The mop heads can be washed for the next use.
- Rubber topped brooms – these brooms do a great job of grabbing hairs, and are easy to clean, meaning you aren’t starting the job with a broom full of debris on your next whip through.
- Dust pan and brush – those hairs need to be picked up somehow!
- Tea tree, eucalyptus and lavender oil can be added to hot water for mopping, or homemade cleaning sprays, to scent the area.
Zoonosis refers to diseases that can be passed from animals to humans, explains Dr. Rachael Guthry from Rowville Vet Clinic and Hospital. “Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that are caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites. Some are transmitted through direct contact, spread via contaminated water, some through contaminated food, and others are spread by insects.”
Here are some common examples and how to prevent them:
- Dog bite wounds: The most common zoonosis in Australia is bacterial infection caused by dog bite wounds. Dr Guthrie says dogs carry large numbers of bacteria in their mouths, and when their teeth puncture the skin, the bacteria are injected into the deeper layer of skin, so any bite that punctures the skin should be seen by a doctor.
- Fleas and tapeworm: The best way to stay safe from fleas and tapeworm is to ensure your pet is on a strict worming and flea-control regime, says Dr Guthrie.
- Roundworm: Roundworm eggs are shed in dog faeces, and can remain on your dog’s coat, meaning you can come into contact with these eggs through patting your dog without washing your hands, or even through gardening in infected soils, says Dr Guthrie. The two key ways to reduce the risk are to practice good hygiene (hand-washing after petting your animal or gardening outside), and putting your pet on a strict worming regime.
- Ringworm: Ringworm is highly infectious and the fungal spores can live in the environment for years. The lesions on your pet may appear as areas of fur loss in a patchy or round shape and/or areas of scaly skin. Lesions on humans appear red, raised and often round, and are intensely itchy. If you suspect ringworm, see a doctor and take your pet to the vet.