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Archive for Sunday, June 27, 2004

Removing pet odors is dirty job

June 27, 2004

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Years ago I read a bumper sticker that said "(Poop) Happens" and I figured that, instead of expressing some austere Zen life philosophy, they were simply pet owners. Into every pet lover's life a little "organic debris" will fall, plop or even squirt.

Yes, it's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. It's the "doodie" of pet owners to clean up after their pets.

The first thing you should do when you find the doggy doo-doo or kitty crap is to take a deep breath (figuratively, that is) and resolve to not punish your pet. Animals do not defecate with deliberate malicious intent. Something is wrong, medically or behaviorally, when an animal defecates in its living space and getting mad won't help solve the problem.

The sooner you pick it up the better. This prevents organic compounds in the poop from staining the carpet. So picking up is the No. 1 way of dealing with No. 2.

Quick pickups

If you're like most families, there's a battle over whose turn it is to clean up the mess. There's a brand-new tool on the market that makes this daunting chore easier. Poop-Freeze is a specially formulated aerosol spray that forms a frosty film on dog or cat feces to harden the surface for easy pick-up. It works outdoors for quick yard clean-up and also be taken along on those daily walks. Poop-Freeze also works indoors on carpet, hardwood floors and tile (www.poop-freeze.com). In fact, this gadget is so funny to use that your kids might fight over who gets to "freeze the poop" before picking it up.

If you don't have a can of Poop-Freeze handy, well, then you need to go with the old standbys. You can use tissue or paper towel to pick up the solid chunks, but if the deposit is soft or semiliquid, this will only grind it farther into the carpet. If you have an extraction machine you can use this with just water. However if you don't, you can go with an older technology. When I was a child, we always had a designated spatula we used to get under pet wastes to lift them from the carpet, as if it were a burger patty. So, you can designate a sacrificial spatula-something that no one likes to use or picked up at a garage sale. But choose a spatula you won't miss from the kitchen and prominently mark it because once converted into a poop quicker picker upper, it can never go back to being a cooking utensil. Store it in its own special place.

It is recommended that when you throw away pet wastes, you do so in the toilet, rather than the trash. This way it goes through the sewage treatment process instead of contaminating landfills with raw sewage.

Cleaning carpet

Now with a majority of the poop out of the picture, you have to deal with the remains that may linger on the carpet. David White at Bestway carpets in Moscow, Idaho recommends using an oxy-type cleaner. Mix into a solution and then apply a small amount with a white cloth, working it in gently. Start at the outside of the stain and work in, to not spread it around. Blot rather than rub, rinse carefully with water, and blot until dry. Do not use on antique rugs, as they are not colorfast.

Another good choice is to use an enzymatic cleaner because it will also break down the organic compounds that our noses may not be able to perceive but our pet's noses might. Odors left behind can attract the critters back to do a repeat performance by leaving an olfactory "Latrine" sign on the spot. An effective enzymatic cleaner is Anti-Icky-Poo made by Mister Max (www.mistermax.com).




-Dr. Janice Willard is a veterinary ethologist from Moscow, Idaho.

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