Research has proved that having a dog is really good for your health. As well as keeping you fit and active, all that care, exercise and love you need to give him will reduce your stress and lower your blood pressure too. But one aspect to dog ownership that can negate those positives is the mess he makes around the home. Even the best behaved dog molts, can attract fleas and ticks, and can have – or cause – accidents from time to time!
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As with most things in life, being prepared is key. With a bit of advance planning and the right tools to hand, you can keep your dog and your house more hygienic, safer and tidier for him and all the family. Here are our ten top cleaning tips that every dog owner should know.
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Clean Dog, Clean(er) Home!
Form a habit of giving your dog a good wash and brush down as soon as you get back from a walk or when he’s been playing in the garden. By doing this, you’re making sure less dirt and grime comes into the house in the first place, lessening the amount of cleaning you have to do around the home.
- Have a towel and a rubber mat by the door. The rubber mat will stop him slipping on a wet floor and the towel can be used to give him a good rub down to remove mud, excess moisture and large debris from his coat.
- Use a brush to remove smaller dirt particles and a clean, dampened washcloth or commercial pet wipes to wipe his nose and mouth area, where he may have accumulated germs and bacteria from sniffing around outside.
- Give his rear end a good wipe with a fresh cloth to get rid of traces of urine and feces to prevent them from getting on your furniture!
- If he’s still dusty-looking, a dry shampoo will help remove excess dust and grime.
- If it’s summer and warm outside, why not give him a hose down in the garden? Remember to towel him dry before letting him back in the house, though…
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It’s also essential to have a good bathing and grooming routine in place. How often you do this depends on his breed, the length of his hair and the type of coat he has – and how filthy he gets on muddy walks! But most breeders recommend a full wash and brush up about once a month. You can take your dog to a professional groomer if you don’t have the time or the inclination, but between appointments, it’s well worth investing in some good quality dog brushes and working out all those stray hairs on a regular basis. As well as reducing the amount of hair and dander that accumulates in your home, and therefore cutting down on cleaning, it’s great quality time to spend with your pooch building your bond.
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…And Don’t Forget His Collar and Lead!
Many owners forget about this, but a collar and lead can get as mucky as the dog does. A quick soak (about 15 minutes) in a few squirts of dog shampoo with hot water and a good rinse through will avoid irritating his skin. Rubbing the collar or lead against itself will help remove any ingrained dirt.
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Have a Regular Cleaning Routine
It’s not easy to master with the demands of modern, busy life, but a systematic, regular cleaning schedule will keep your home smelling fresher for longer by avoiding a build-up of hair, dander, mud and dust! Done on a routine basis, each job won’t take as long as if it’s left to build up for any length of time either.
But there are also ways you can prepare your home and tools you can buy to make the whole job easier, such as the following.
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Choose Appropriate Flooring
If you’re not planning on changing your flooring any time soon, try and restrict your dog to areas with hard floors like the kitchen (or laundry room if you’re lucky enough to have one) while he’s wet and dirty after being outside.
If you’re a dog owner looking for new flooring for dogs, you’ll want to bear the following qualities in mind when investigating your options:
- Claws and nails can scratch most types of flooring, so look for one that offers scratch resistance.
- Dogs can cause themselves an injury if they slip on wet flooring or come in with wet feet, so slip resistance is an important quality.
- Damage resistance, stain resistance or waterproof features will help prevent urine and fecal staining from the occasional toilet emergency.
So what are the pros and cons of different flooring types for households with pets? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Carpet is comfortable for a dog to walk on, but can be harder to keep clean and is more likely to show wear and tear sooner. Carpet tiles are practical, because individual units can be replaced if they become damaged without having to completely renew the floor.
- Hardwood is a good option in terms of sweeping up or vacuuming dog hair and general debris, but does have a tendency to stain with water or other liquids. Urine stains will also show up more readily over time.
- Laminate is only slightly less durable and tough than hardwood, and is easy to keep clean, but can be slippery underfoot unless you go for a textured finish. You can use mats and rugs with non-slip undersides, though.
- Bamboo is great: it withstands heavy paw traffic, is stain- and general wear-and-tear resistant and as a bonus, it’s environmentally friendly too. It is quite an expensive option, though, and still subject to water damage.
- Cork offers sound absorbency. It’s comfortable underfoot, water resistant and even possesses anti-microbial properties. However, claws and nails will still cause damage, as will furniture if positioned on it.
- Stone has extremely high levels of durability; is easy to keep clean; and is often scratch-resistant. But it can be cool underfoot even in summer, so rugs and a good washable dog bed are a must to take the chill off!
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Keep Your Dog’s Dining Area Clean
Wherever your dog eats, place a wipe clean mat under his bowls – that protects your floor from stains and also makes it easier to clean up food and water spills.
And why not try a dog water fountain? With one of these:
- You won’t have to change the water in his bowl every day, saving you time and effort. As many fountains filter and aerate the water, it also ensures he can have fresh, clean water on demand, because it’s really important to keep your dog well hydrated, especially in the warmer months.
- Changing the filter regularly will prolong the life of your investment and also make sure his water is as fresh as you’d want it to be. Some even have pre-filter systems that trap loose dog hairs, dust and dirt, great for keeping the water and the machine itself clean.
- And as a final benefit, it’ll also help keep you home smelling better and the air cleaner too. The constantly running water helps maintain humidity in the air.
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Invest in a Good Quality Vacuum Cleaner
Regular vacuum cleaners will struggle to cope with the mess a dog can generate. If you’re choosing a new one, look out for one that’s specially designed to cope with animals and all that brings with it. Pet hairs can embed deep within your carpet and soft furnishings, so you need a vacuum with really strong suction. Likewise, if your dog is allowed on the sofa and other furniture (or even if he’s not, but you tend to find him there anyway!), check that the model you’re thinking of buying comes with upholstery attachments that will make vacuuming them a breeze too.
Most pet vacuum cleaners these days are built to cope with flooring of all types, but it’s worth making sure before you hand over your money that the cleaner you’re thinking of purchasing can cope with every floor type in your home.
Noise can be an issue for some households. If your pet or other animals in the home are disturbed by the sound of the vacuum cleaner, you may want to look for one that operates as quietly as possible. Reviews from past customers are often a good way to check this out.
A flexible hose and a long power cord will make it easier to clean awkward areas like the stairs, not to mention your car’s interior if he’s a frequent traveler. Don’t forget to check the weight of the whole unit either – portability and ease of use are key to encouraging you to get the vacuum out regularly and often, to stay on top of the mess.
Wash Pet Beds and Bedding Regularly
Dogs are gorgeous and precious members of the family, but there’s no doubt they can be germy creatures! All that investigating indoors and outdoors means they routinely carry an army of disease-inducing organisms round with them wherever they go, no matter how often you bathe them. Some of these bacteria, parasites and fungi can live for up to 12 hours or longer without their host, and can be harmful to humans.
So it stands to reason that their favorite sleeping places, whether that’s their own dog bed or yours, will need washing with regularity to stay hygienic. This should be done once a week – or at least once a fortnight; and more frequently if your pet is a high-activity breed and spends lots of time outside. You’ll also want to wash it more often if anyone in the household suffers from allergies, for instance.
Choose the hottest wash your machine will perform, provided the fabric will withstand it. Your normal laundry detergent will do, unless your pet has sensitive skin. In this case, use a milder version and add an extra rinse.
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…And Use Easy-Care Furniture Covers or Throws for Your Own Soft Furnishings
You can protect your soft furnishings like sofas, armchairs and even beds, and make your own life easier too, if you cover them with specially designed furniture covers or throws. Many are water and stain resistant, and are intended to be easy to vacuum pet hair from. Look for one that features a non-skid material on the underside, especially if you have a leather sofa, as this will help stop the cover from sliding out of place all of the time.
Check the washing instructions before you buy, but most can simply be tossed in the washing machine. Others may have to be dry cleaned professionally. It’s a good idea to have at least two sets, then you’re prepared if unexpected guests come round or there’s a little accident. If you’ve got kids, these will also save your precious sofa from juice spills and grease marks too, which is a bonus!
Like pet beds, these should be washed frequently, because they can be a safe harbor for fleas and mites as well as the germs mentioned above. So if you clean them routinely, not only will your home smell fresher, but you’re also keeping your dog healthier too.
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Mop Up Accidents Fast…
Even the best dog has little accidents from time to time. And we can’t always rely on them to pay the same attention to table manners as we do, so spills and slops are an inevitable part of life. Always clean up as soon as you spot a mess of any type, otherwise you run the risk of smells and stains.
If your dog’s peed on a carpet or elsewhere, you’ll know about it from the smell! There are stain and odor removing sprays that will help. Check that the one you’re buying doesn’t just mask the scent, but also contains active enzymes that will break up and consume the uric acid crystals, which are what create the strong, unpleasant odor.
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…And Prevent Future Ones!
If you own a dog that’s developed or shows signs of developing a habit of peeing in a particular spot, you can buy commercial repellents that have an unappealing scent, such as cayenne pepper or a chemical compound. This will discourage them from using that spot in future.
Of course, read the instructions carefully on any cleaning fluid to make sure it is suitable for the type of surface you’ll be using it on – you don’t want to accidentally stain your furnishings. The best ones will work on tile, vinyl, hardwood, carpets and soft furnishings without causing any unintentional damage.
- Melody Schamble, Why It’s Worth Having Your Dog Groomed Professionally,American Kennel Club
- Jill Fanslau, The Guide to Washing a Dog Bed, PetMD
- Best Pet Friendly Flooring Guide, Wayfair