Pet dogs that live with us in our homes make a mark on our hearts...and their environment. They’re very generous with their fur and kisses, and leave drifts of hair and sometimes slobber on their own toys and your belongings. Puppies that don’t know any better, and ill dogs that can’t help themselves, may suffer from hit or miss bathroom issues, too.
Keeping your house clean can be a challenge when living with a dog. In most cases, you and your children aren’t at risk for catching illnesses from a healthy pet. But just like kids, dogs are sensitive to toxic chemicals often found in everyday cleaning products. Dogs won't grow out of the urge to sniff and lick weird smells and liquids and easily get poisoned. Be sure you "clean green" with products clearly labeled as safe for use around your pets. That's good for the earth, too.
Even when they're clean, the canine aroma may prove too much for visitors to stomach, and the “yuck” factor can still be off-putting to most people. Your dog’s sense of smell is much more sensitive than people’s and natural cleaners can be less offensive to them. Healthy cleaning choices benefit you, the earth and your dog. Consider these 5 green cleaning tips.
Choose ceramic, glass or metal bowls. Plastic bowls tend to hold odors more readily, and won't decompose in landfills so glass and ceramic are much more earth-friendly, especially if you use them for a long time. Wash out the food and water bowls on a regular basis and dump out standing water. Dishwasher safe bowls work well, or hand-wash your dog's bowls with dog-safe cleansers. Have several so you can switch out clean ones while used bowls are being cleaned.
Soft toys get smelly because dogs carry them around in their mouths. Puzzle toys work great to keep dogs occupied by stuffing them with food, but get nasty with spoiled treats and slobber. Dog toys benefit from being de-slobbered with pet-safe wipes, washed in the dishwasher, or run through the washing machine. Earth-friendly wipes won't clog up landfills, either. Be sure to check labels before tossing your dog’s favorite stuffed bear in with your laundry.
A dog’s bed quickly takes on their signature odor. Bed covers that can be removed and laundered are ideal. If that’s not possible, an earth-safe odor neutralizer removes the smell. Be sure the bedding is dry before letting your dog use it again. You can protect dog cushions from the worst stains by removing the cover, putting the cushion inside a plastic garbage bag, and then replacing the outside cover. That way, odor or stains only penetrate the outside portion that’s most easily cleaned with sprays or the laundry. Maintaining a quality product is greener than not taking care of it and just buying new.
Spot stains can be cleaned up with a pet-safe odor neutralizer. You can also find great products that clean hard floor surfaces and remove the smell of pet waste. It’s important to use pet-safe, green products because some cleaning chemicals can burn paw pads or cause toxic reactions, and can even end up in the ground water and affect the earth. Be sure to keep your dog off cleaned floors until any products used have completely dried.
Pet stains can be a challenge to remove from carpets because the odor soaks through to the backing. For simple dirt, wait until muddy paw prints dry, scrub with a dry brush, perhaps add a natural deodorizer like earth-friendly baking soda, and vacuum. But for wet organic stains from urine or feces, use a pet stain remover that includes an odor neutralizer and follow product directions. The chemicals that make perfumed cleaners smell good aren't earth-friendly. Even if it smells okay to you, because your dog still smells the waste, that encourages them to re-baptize the spot.
Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, consultant to the pet care industry and the award winning author of 23 pet care books.