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While we are happy to advise you and share our knowledge with you, we would never propose that our recommendations be used instead of consulting with your veterinarian about any concerns or issues. You know your pet better than anyone, and should always use your best judgement regarding obtaining the best care for your pet. ©2015 PetPeople Enterprises, LLC
Every pet owner knows there are inevitable stains and odors that come with owning pets. Pets can leave stains and odors around that you might not be able to get rid of - but don’t get rid of your pet just yet! There are a variety of cleaning products designed to take both the stain and the smell out for good. Follow these tips for a pet safe, effective way to clean up permanently.
Why the Accidents?
It is important to help try to prevent the problem, not just spend your time cleaning up accidents. Dogs and cats do not soil because they are mad or angry at us, and they do not have the capacity to act out in anger. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure there is no medical cause for your pet’s inappropriate elimination. Once medically cleared, if a behavior problem is the cause, please see our pages Housebreaking Your New Dog or Puppy, or Solving Litter Box Problems for further information.
What to Use?
The one thing to remember about pet stains is that you need to use a cleaner developed specifically for pet stains, not your run of the mill carpet or spot cleaner.
Here’s why – when dogs and cats smell urine, it often triggers them to urinate again in the same spot. While both dogs and cats have a heightened sense of smell, a dog’s sense of smell is over 100 times greater than a human’s. Most regular household cleaners will NOT eliminate the smell that penetrates deep into your carpet, rather they use perfumes and fragrances that cover up the smell to our noses, but they don’t fool our pets. They can still smell the ‘accident’, and are more likely to re-soil in the same place.
For this reason it is also important not to use ammonia based cleaners – because ammonia is a component of urine, using ammonia to clean can actually mimic the urine smell to your pet, causing them to re-soil the same spot.
Types of Cleaners
Stain and odor removal products fall into three basic categories – enzymatic, bacterial, and chemical. Each of these can be more or less effective, depending on other factors such as how ‘new’ the accident is, and whether or not you have used any other cleaning products on the spot. A good rule of thumb is to always use a urine odor remover product before using any other cleaning products.
These products use enzymes to break down stains. To put it simply, enzymes are proteins naturally produced by all living organisms. This makes them a bio-degradable and non-toxic alternative to chemical cleansers. Enzymatic cleaners work on stains, breaking them down so that they can be easily washed away. Enzymatic cleaners are especially effective at removing organic stains such as blood, urine, feces, and vomit, and can help neutralize pet odors.
These products contain actual non-pathogenic, live bacteria to break down organic stains and odors. Urine goes through a ‘decaying process’ as it ages in your carpet, caused by bacteria feeding on the organic wastes. The bacteria convert the leftover waste to gases, causing a strong ammonia smell. Bacterial cleaners actually use good bacteria to ‘digest’ the waste and thus the source of the odor. These cleaners work best at removing organic stains such as blood, urine, feces, and vomit, as well as accompanying odors.
Regular household cleaners are usually detergent-based – essentially a soap and water solution that cleans and then deodorizes with a strong, clean-smelling scent. While these products may help remove the stain, it is important to use them AFTER using an enzymatic or bacterial cleaner. Using a common household cleaner first can add chemicals and alter the organic nature of the mess, rendering enzymatic or bacterial cleaners ineffective if used after the fact. These cleaners also usually simply remove the surface stain and cover the odor with a pleasant scent – but because our pets have much more sensitive noses than we do, they can still smell the spot and will often eliminate there again.
Now that you have the appropriate cleaner, what’s the best way to get rid of the stain? All of these abide by the rule, “get it while it’s fresh”!
The sooner you clean up urine, the better. Aside from developing a stronger odor the longer it sits, the longer you allow the urine to remain, the more likely its chances of seeping through the carpet to the pad and/or the floor beneath.
1. Blot – Blot up as much of the excess liquid as possible with paper towels or a thick dish towel. Continue until no moisture is visible on the towels. It is important to BLOT, not rub, as that can drive stain deeper into carpet.
2. Dilute and blot again – spray liberally with an enzymatic or bacterial cleaner, and according to the label directions let sit for a short period of time to allow the active ingredients to work, then blot again.
3. Repeat as needed
4. Older Urine Stains – may require additional treatments. After spraying with the appropriate cleaner, you can also try placing a damp towel over the affected area, and running a warm iron over top. This can help draw out old or stubborn stains into the towel.
TIP: To help find older urine stains, a black light can be used. These are best used in a dark room, and will make individual urine spots stand out so that they may be spot cleaned as necessary.
1. Pick up as much solid waste as possible with paper towels
2. Spray carpet or area liberally with neutralizing product, and according to label directions let sit for a short period of time, then blot with paper towels to remove stain
3. Repeat as needed
4. You may need to finish with an additional chemical stain remover, but it is important to use the enzymatic cleaner first to neutralize any odors
Almost all pet cleaning solutions can be used for other organic stains including urine, feces, vomit, blood, dirt, and grass stains. You may consider using them on other, non-pet spills as they are usually more effective at stain-removal than store-bought cleaners. Most of the products can also be used on furniture, but for both furniture and carpet cleaning it is recommended that you spot test the cleaner in an inconspicuous area to check for color-fastness. An overall shampooing with a commercial carpet cleaning machine (after spot treatment) offers the most thorough cleaning, and some pet odor products can be added to carpet cleaning machines – a good idea since cleaning alone will not always eliminate odors completely.
Is your pet STILL having accidents, even if you’ve followed the proper steps for clean up?
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