I got home the other day after a busy day of surgeries and just wanted to be horizontal. Instead, I opened my front door and got blasted by the stink of fish. Only a cannery might have smelled more fishy than my front entryway smelled. One of the dogs had pulled a nearly full bottle of liquid fish oil off the kitchen counter. The other dog takes fish oil for his allergies. Yep, she chewed up the bottle on a carpet and heaven knows where else. The small carpet has been sent to carpet heaven and I treated her for tummy upset. I spent hours cleaning my entryway and anywhere else she may have dragged that dripping bottle. I suppose this newsletter might also be called, “Be smarter than a Border Collie”. I now give the other dog capsules of fish oil and keep them on top of the fridge instead of on the kitchen countertop.
Most of my articles are about pet diabetes, but now and then I focus on other critically important pet related topics like getting stink and germs out of a house or off a pet! Let’s talk common sense and common cleaning fixes I’ve picked up over years in the vet biz.
First, make it easy on yourself. I have dog and cat beds scattered through my house. I believe I’ve mentioned previously that in the Sutton house it’s more or less a democracy. If there is a pet on the couch a human gets to sit next to the pet or find somewhere else to sit, but I do nonetheless have dedicated pet beds. My suggestion for keeping a pet bed clean is to have a slipcover, blanket or towel over the top of it that can periodically go through the wash. For human furniture the same works well, and leather and vinyl furniture are usually easily cleaned. If you are searching for a new home consider that carpet is harder to clean than nonporous surfaces. No matter how pretty white furniture looks in design magazines, pet owners usually concede style for practicality.
The pet: What if your pet gets into something greasy or oily? Usually vets recommend bathing pets in shampoos made for pets (whether gentle shampoos for regular use or medicated shampoos for pets with medical conditions), but if we want to “get grease out of the way” we often reach for Dawn dishwashing detergent. If your pet gets skunked or rolls in dead fish we have special skunk shampoos. Years ago my Labrador rolled in dead fish on the beach, and after repeat baths over several days I finally resorted to adding a bit of baking soda to her shampoo lather which finally got the stink off of her. Of course, these aren’t for routine use! For average filth, start with a good ole pet shampoo. If your pet expresses his or her anal sacs, there are commercial skunk sprays available or you can wipe off the bum with some Listerine mouthwash on some gauze. Another common source of malodor from a pet is the ears. If your pet’s ears stink, you better go to your vet to make sure there isn’t an infection.
Whether you are trying to deodorize a pet or an object, wash repeatedly. Usually the sooner the better! And for pets be sure to get all the shampoo or detergent off the pet by rinsing liberally.
What if your pet has a virus or infectious disease and you wish to sanitize the home so your other pets are not exposed? Never underestimate the power of bleach. It kills many bacteria and viruses at a concentration of 10% (or one part household bleach to 9 parts water). It degrades in the diluted form, so mix up a new batch if you need to disinfect an area multiple times. Also, bleach can damage a lot of materials, so rinse it off well with water afterwards. Of course, wear gloves to prevent contact with your skin as it can ruin many fabrics and materials. You may also consider asking your vet for whatever hospital disinfectant he or she uses at the vet clinic. I have no problem selling a client a jug of Parvosol (the cleaner I use at my vet clinic) or accelerated hydrogen peroxide (see below) if needed. Whichever disinfectant you choose be sure to clean up the majority of organic debris first before thinking your cleaner is killing the germs.
Let’s talk potty. Dilution is the solution to pollution, but sometimes even repeat washing isn’t enough to get out urine or fecal contamination. Ever wonder why a pet will mark a place where another pet has gone potty in the house? Humans may not be able to smell it, but short of using an enzymatic cleaner on carpeted areas, animals will continue to smell it with their sharper sense of smell. You might even need to inject it under the carpet pad if the volume was significant or if the location was a repeat target. One of my favorite such products is a veterinary formula called Urine Off.
How do you clean your house if you have a kid or pet with ringworm? (Ringworm is not a parasite but a fungus or dermatophyte). Accelerated hydrogen peroxide is my favorite environmental treatment for ringworm. Of course, your vet will help you choose an appropriate treatment for your pet, but accelerated hydrogen peroxide is a great option for the house and only needs a 5 minute contact time to kill ringworm. It comes in handy pop up wipes or can be used as mop or spray solution. Accelerated hydrogen peroxide is actually a lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide that what you buy in little brown bottles at the drug store but has a few things added. It has no color and minimal odor, and kills many bacteria and viruses. I actually keep a pop up container of pre-saturated Accel wipes in my gym bag. More and more hospitals and shelters are using accelerated hydrogen peroxide to clean their facilities too.
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NOTE: Consult your veterinarian to confirm that my recommendations are applicable for the health needs of your pet.