Editor’s note: Have you seen the Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our April-May issue. Subscribe to Dogster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.
Does this scenario sound familiar? A friend comes to visit. After an hour of pleasant conversation, she gets up from the couch to leave. And that’s when you notice it: Her rear end is covered in dog hair.
Embarrassed, you reach for one of the lint rollers you have strategically placed around the house. You awkwardly attempt to take care of it for her but then realize it’s best if she remove dog hair from her own derriere, so you shove the roller a little too forcefully into her hand. She laughs uncomfortably, says not to worry about it, then makes a beeline for the front door and away from the crazy dog lady.
I mean, I’m not the only one this has happened to, right?
After the last episode a few weeks ago, I decided to get professional help. No, not from a therapist (although that might not be a bad idea), but from Kristen Levine, a well-known pet-living expert. With over 25 years experience in the pet industry, Kristen uses her blog, kristenlevine.com, to help people live healthier and happier with their pets by sharing science, stories and advice. And boy, did I need her advice!
“I suppose it’s crazy to think that you can have both a clean house and dogs,” I said, sighing despondently.
“Wrong!” Kristen responded with cheerful confidence.
I perked up. So … there’s hope?
“I’ve had animals all my life, ranging from dogs and cats to goats and donkeys,” she told me. “And I never want people to walk into my house, take a sniff and think, ‘Mmm … pet home!’ So I’ve come up with strategies to keep both my pets and my home clean.”
Please tell us!
1. Don’t skip bathtime
Regular baths are the first and most important step to keeping your dog and home smelling fresh. Remember, though, that too many baths can strip essential oils and dry the skin (especially in the winter). Most pups only need baths every few weeks or when they get especially stinky. (See sidebar for ways to make baths more fun for everyone.)
Making bathtime a breeze — Reduce the stress and the mess of bathing your dog with these tub-time tips:
- Place a non-slip mat in the tub to make her feel secure.
- Encourage calm by playing relaxing music.
- Run lukewarm or cool water to avoid drying skin.
- Make it a positive experience by offering plenty of treats and praise.
- Only use shampoos formulated for dogs.
- Dry thoroughly with a towel; then stand back and let her shake, shake, shake.
- Dogs thrive on routine, so make bathtime predictable and consistent.
2. Brush often
Brushing regularly — or even daily for those with long or thick coats — minimizes shedding and keeps your dog’s fur and skin healthy by distributing essential oils.
3. Wipe them down
Between baths, use a damp towel or specially formulated pet wipes to remove loose dirt and keep your dog (and your home) from smelling like, well, a dog.
4. Choose the right tools
When it comes to cleaning your home, it often pays to purchase tools like vacuum cleaners and spot removers that are specifically made to clean up after pets.
5. Suck it up
To avoid chasing your guests around with lint rollers, vacuum your furniture weekly, making sure to reach the nooks and crannies under and behind cushions.
6. Select fabrics carefully
When choosing furniture, opt for materials like leather or microfiber that are easily wiped down and cleaned off. Clean off weekly.
7. Wash bedding regularly
Dog beds and blankets are magnets for all sorts of unpleasant odors. So toss them in the weekly wash.
8. Keep dirt outside
If your yard gets muddy, keep an old towel near the door, and quickly wipe your pup’s feet before she comes in. (This is good for your pup’s paw health, too.) Strategically placed runners also capture dirt that can be shaken out or vacuumed up a few times a week.
9. Get control of the clutter
If your dog, like mine, has 10,000 toys, keep your home looking neat by corralling them in cute baskets throughout your house. Check toys for wear and tear, and throw away worn-out ones. If your dog doesn’t play with some of his toys, and they are barely used, wash them and donate to your local shelter.
10. Hire some help
While this isn’t an option for everyone, even a once-a-month housekeeping visit can help keep dog dirt, fur and dander in check.
How to de-stink your home with doggone good smells
It’s tempting to use everyday sprays and candles to mask pet smell in your home. However, some dogs can be sensitive to the chemicals in commercial candles or air fresheners, so try these natural alternatives instead:
- Beeswax or soy candles — Opt for nontoxic candles, like David Oreck’s Pure Air Candles or One Fur All, which are designed especially for pet homes. But keep them out of reach of prying paws!
- Essential oils — Leave rooms smelling fresh by mixing water and 20 drops of your favorite essential oil in a spray bottle. Spritz as needed. (Do your research first, as some essential oils aren’t good for pets. See Can Aromatherapy Help Dogs.)
- Simmering spices — Boil water and then turn down to a simmer. Add fragrant ingredients like cinnamon stick, orange rind or clove. Top off with water as needed.
- Charcoal — Absorb odors with a product like the Moso Natural Air Purifying bag, which contains sustainably sourced bamboo charcoal.