How to keep your home clean when living with pets


Here are some tips to keep messes in check when sharing your home with furry-friends.

Even the most doting of pet owners will grimace at the domestic headaches furry friends can cause. Labrador tumbleweeds rolling through the living room, cat scratches on table legs and spilt food on the floor - these are the prices we pay for cohabiting with animals. But for those who want to have a clean home and keep their pets too, there are ways to keep these messes in check.


Managing shedding

No. 1, brush your pet regularly. This can go a long way to preventing moulting in the home, and has health benefits as well.

"Grooming is not just cosmetic, it is an essential part of responsible pet ownership," says Dr Liz Walker, chief executive officer of RSPCA Victoria. "Regular brushing gets out the knots that would become mats. And some dogs - poodle mixes in particular - don't shed, so they need regular clipping."

Moreover, tangled hair can hide lumps and skin conditions, so keeping pooches well-groomed helps ensure they're well.

Deb Morrison, founder of national pet sitting and dog walking business PetCloud, says how frequently you should brush depends on your dog's fur.

"Short-haired dogs need a brush once a week," Morrison says. "However, for dogs that have thicker, curlier or longer coats, like a golden retriever or a German shepherd, it's important for them to be brushed every two days."

Which brush you use also varies according to fur type. Furminator makes a range of de-shedding tools available at Petbarn for both short and long coats that gently remove loose hair and the undercoat while protecting dogs' skin.

There are versions for cats too, who still need help despite their meticulous grooming habits - particularly medium and long-haired cats, which require daily brushing.

Investing in a quality vacuum cleaner - plus a smaller handheld one for hard-to-reach places - will go a long way to keeping floors clean, and an adhesive pet hair roller can be used on upholstery or clothing.

How frequently you should brush depends on your dog's fur. Photo: iStock

Protecting furniture

If pets are deliberately wreaking havoc on your furnishings - scratching, chewing, et cetera - Dr Walker says this can be attributed to boredom.

"Boredom and excess energy are two common reasons for behaviour problems in pets. This makes sense because they're meant to lead active lives," she explains.

"Because we all lead busy lives, our pets often end up spending a good portion of their day home alone. If you give your pets tasks to do when they are home alone, they will be less likely to come up with their own ways to occupy the time - like unstuffing your couch."

Leave some chew toys around, including some stuffed with treats, to keep dogs occupied, and make sure they're getting enough exercise each day. A scratching post will help remove old kitty nails to let new ones grow and is a way for them to mark their territory.

When it comes to inadvertent damage, selecting pet-friendlier furniture can help. If pets are allowed on the couch, leather or faux-leather couches are easier to keep fur-free, and providing a blanket for them to lie on will prevent scratches and dirt.

Minimising mess

Pets that go outside can track dirt into a house, especially after some rough and tumble at the dog park. Morrison suggests keeping a towel handy near the door so muddy paws can be wiped clean before heading back inside.

Place an easy-to-clean placemat under food and water bowls for pets that eat indoors to prevent mess on the floor, and if you have hardwood floors, regular manicures to trim nails will put a stop to scratches.

Leather or faux-leather couches are easier to keep fur-free.

Leather or faux-leather couches are easier to keep fur-free. Photo: iStock

Keep your home smelling fresh

Aside from feverishly burning incense or lighting scented candles every time guests pop by, how can you exorcise those doggy and kitty odour-demons? For a start, stock up on natural cleaning supplies to scrub and tidy your house thoroughly and frequently.

"Use a combination of bicarb soda and white vinegar, and enzyme-based sprays help to neutralise odours and take stains away," advises Morrison. "This way pets aren't at risk of absorbing chemicals through their paws."

Opening windows regularly will also help blow unpleasant smells away.

When it comes to tackling the source of the smell, it pays to keep pets clean, but don't wash them too much.

"In order to ensure a dog's coat and skin maintains their natural oils, we recommend only washing them once a month with flea control shampoo and just rinsing off their paws after walks," explains Morrison. "Washing their bedding once a month will also discourage fleas."

Petbarn DIY dog wash units can help you keep your pet healthy and happy. If you'd prefer to outsource to the experts, Petbarn also has a variety of grooming services on offer, from deluxe baths to coat conditioning treatments and bad breath fixes.

Cat owners will need at least one kitty litter tray. These be should be placed somewhere private and out of the way, such as a laundry, but away from the cat's food and water. Avoid moving them, as this will confuse and stress the cat.

Sonia Trichter, president of rehoming centre Friends of the Pound, says cleaning litter trays consistently is crucial.

"They should be scooped every time they're used, and we use a double tray system so we scoop the bottom as well. Then if they're too used, you empty the whole thing out, clean it, and start with fresh litter."

The story How to keep your home clean when living with pets first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.


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