Mitigating the Malodorous Mutt (or How to Rid Your Home of That “Doggy” Smell)

February 18, 2013
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Most of our customers have pets – and mostly furry pets.  While we all love our cats and dogs, and they are such loving companions, they can wreak havoc with the overall cleanliness of a home.  Having a furry friend means a little extra work to keep down on the dander and fur, and while we, as professional housecleaners, get those animal flakes and fur off of the baseboards, sills, corners of floors, under the furniture (we know where all that stuff hides!), there are a few things you can do as pet owners to keep your house a little cleaner, cut down on allergies, and not have that “Oh, you have a dog?” smell hit your guests when they enter your home.

First off, make sure your dog is overall healthy and clean – check obvious places like his ears – if there is waxy build up or odor coming from your dog’s ears, he may have an ear infection, which can get pretty stinky.  Dogs and cats have glands in their rumps (anal glands) which may become blocked and need to be emptied (“expressed”), something that can evidently be done at home (there are actually Youtube videos on this very subject) but might well be best carried out by your vet.  Check his paws (we’ve all had Rover step in something unsavory, then gun it for the best rug in the house when he comes in the door) and keep his fur clean by bathing him regularly.  Don’t want to make your bathroom into a fur wonderland?  Some local dog boarding and daycare facilities such as Bark Avenue in Milford, and The Crate Escape in North Haven, offer self-service dog washes for a modest fee.

Keeping dirt outside to begin with is always best.  Buy a couple of colored towels (they don’t show stains as much as lighter-colored towels) and always have one by the door that your dog comes in and goes out of – wipe his fur and paws before he brings anything in with him.  I once had a dog whose gums were so malformed that anything and everything would catch in the recesses of his gums – talk about halitosis!  Brush your dog’s teeth (minimally a couple of times a week) with a (doggie) toothbrush, and always use toothpaste designed for dogs (do NOT use human toothpaste).  Bring your dog to the vet for his regular checkups – there are some diseases that will make your dog malodorous, such as kidney disease, gum disease or a yeast infection, among others.  Brush your dog’s fur regularly and make regular appointments at the groomer if your dog is in need and you just don’t have the time to give him a good scrubdown.

Vacuum your home regularly to remove dander and dirt from floors and damp mop hard surface flooring using a Ph-neutral, non-toxic floor cleaner like Bona Kemi.  Dander and oils from your pet’s fur can really get into carpeting and be very difficult to remove unless you have your carpets professionally cleaned regularly.  (If you do need a service provider to clean your carpets, please check our “Community” page for suggestions.)

Keep your dog’s bedding clean – wash it regularly using cold water and unscented detergent, then dry on low heat in the dryer (or air dry).  If your dog has a crate, clean it regularly (spraying it off with the garden hose in the summer works well) or wash it using a sponge with warm water and just a little dish soap, then wipe dry.

Use washable covers on your fabric furniture or pet blankets on whatever furniture your dog is in contact with.  If you don’t use covers and have fabric furniture, use a rubber electrostatic pet fur brush  to brush fur off of sofas and chairs.  These are easy to use – just brush across the surface of the fabric (works well on coats, too) and when you are done, pull the clump of fur off the brush. The brushes are about $8 or so, last forever, and work great.  (Tip: Leave the pet fur brush close by the furniture it’s usually used on so you can take a quick swipe regularly, and wash the brush with warm water and dish detergent now and then.)

House still a bit doggified?  Take a couple of your favorite scented  fabric softener sheets and put them under cushions and couch pillows, where they’ll be out of sight and lend a bit more agreeable fragrance to the room.

Our furry friends make a little more work for us around the house – but what they give us back in loyalty, love and companionship is worth the little extra labor it takes to keep the house looking and smelling fresh.