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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Cleaning Leather Dog Collars with Beeswax
Cleaning Leather Dog Collars with Beeswax

Recently, our dog Lola got a little too personal with a skunk and wound up with a face full of stink. To remove the offensive smell, we very carefully washed her with the go-to formula of 4 cups hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon dish soap—that did the trick. Her leather collar was still pretty smelly, however, so I took another approach for it. After soaking it in warm water with 2 teaspoons baking soda and letting it air dry, I applied Skidmore’s Leather Cream with beeswax to both sides to recondition and soften it up. That not only worked like a charm, it also added a refreshing aroma. 

Dog's Life: Home & Garden
A Romp Through Dog-Friendly Materials
These stylish and durable flooring materials and fabrics let you give Fido the run of the house
Hello, Chewie!

World, meet Chewie. Chewie is my favorite chow chow–German shepherd mix in the world. But as much as I love my rescued best friend, having him around typically means constant shedding, some drooling and more than a few lost pillows. Sound familiar?

Having Chewie has forced me to consider how to make coexisting under the same roof more of a pleasant experience than a dreadful chore. And all it took was picking some clever materials for our townhome. Below is some advice I wish I’d had before committing to my long-term relationship with my dog. Let’s dig in.

 

Photo by WA Design Architects - Search beach style entryway design ideas

 

Let's start at the bottom: the floors. Our townhome has hardwood floors, and I've wished on more than one occasion that they were concrete instead. This is especially true for homeowners who are considering a puppy, because lots of messes come along with potty training.

 

Photo by Cornerstone Architects - Look for contemporary living room design inspiration

 

Another great floor material for puppy training? Natural stone — though be aware that porous materials, such as marble, can stain. So choose wisely what kind of stone you install.

Porcelain tile is a fantastic alternative to natural stone. To accomplish this sophisticated and clean look, make sure the grout lines are minimal. Also, it's good to note that dogs, seniors and puppies in particular, could have a tough time gaining traction on these floors so watch out for injuries. See our tips on caring for senior dogs.

 

Photo by MW|Works Architecture+Design - Look for rustic family room design inspiration

 

Of course, hardwood floors can work well too. Just know that when your pet reaches maturity, you may have to refinish those lovely boards. Thankfully, with hardwood floors, you can always count on intact wood beneath the scratched surface.

Laminate is a practical way to get out of the extensive care of hardwood. It maintains the look while offering a virtually indestructible play surface for your best friend.

 

Photo by Supon Phornirunlit / Naked Decor - Browse contemporary bedroom photos

 

For a softer option, you can always choose carpet. Just be prepared — it will take some vacuuming to keep that freshly installed look.

If you want a more practical option for carpeting, you could choose carpet tiles. Minor accidents (bound to happen) can be remedied by replacing individual tiles instead of an entire floor of carpeting. I speak from experience.

 

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I would have thought a cowhide would be one of the last choices for floor treatments in a house with pets. To my surprise, the cowhide in my house is one of the most practical decisions I have ever made. Its texture naturally repels dog and cat hair. This interior takes full advantage of the cowhide's beauty and durability.

 

Photo by Josina Bergsøe - Discover contemporary living room design ideas

 

When it comes to furniture, my advice is to go for a low-maintenance fabric. I have not found a successful way of keeping my dogs off the couch (have you?), and every day I am thankful for my lucky decision to purchase a microfiber sofa. Microfiber is one of the most forgiving upholstery fabrics; it cleans up with great ease.

 

Photo by Robert Granoff - Discover contemporary living room design inspiration

 

Perhaps an even better option for furniture is leather, especially for dogs. You can simply wipe it clean and be done.

Tell us: What materials have you used in your home to help you with your pet-related chores? How does owning pets affect your choice of furniture and decor? Please share below!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Experts Share Their Pet-Tested Cleaning Tips
Dog Cleaning with Broom

Fur Begone

Most pet owners spend a lot of time vacuuming up pet hair, and to be sure, a good vacuum is a key weapon in the fight against hair-covered floors and furniture. But did you know that rubber is the natural enemy of pet hair? Yup, it sure is! You can use the same Love Glove you use to de-fur your pets on upholstery and carpeting, or you can just go over hairy areas with a plain old rubber dishwashing glove. You’ll be amazed at how well it works! —Jolie Kerr

Jolie Kerr is the author of My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag ... and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha (Plume). Her weekly cleaning advice column, “Ask a Clean Person,” appears on Deadspin and Jezebel.

Remove Pet Accidents from Carpets

The unfortunate truth for pet owners is that dog and cat “accidents” aren’t always accidental—if Fido and Kitty are marking their territory, woe to the antique Persian rug that stands in their path. Here’s how to save your rug, and your relationship with your fluffy friend:

• Use a white towel to blot the damp area as soon as possible.

• Apply a solution of one-quarter teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and one cup of warm water with a white towel. Avoid overwetting. Absorb moisture with paper towels, rinse with warm water, and repeat as long as there is a transfer to the towels.

• Next, apply a solution of one cup white vinegar and two cups water with a white towel and blot dry. Stand on the towel to promote absorbance.

• Secure a half-inch layer of paper towels on the area with a heavy object. When thoroughly wetted, replace. Continue to replace until towels no longer absorb moisture.

• Try using an all-natural enzyme-based cleaning product as an alternative method. The enzymes actually digest the stain- and odor-causing proteins in the pet urine.

• Do not use ammonia or other cleaning chemicals with strong odors on the stained spot, as they do not effectively cover the odor and may encourage your pet to reinforce its urine scent mark.

• To discourage a pet from resoiling a previously soiled area, lay a sheet of foil on the spot for a week or two. It will be unappealing for your pet.

Excerpted from Be Thrifty: How to Live Better with Less Edited by Pia Catton and Califia Suntree (Workman Publishing)

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Keep your Lawn Free from Urine Spots
Dilution is the solution to pollution

 It is a common misconception that "acid" in a dog’s urine is what causes the brown spots left behind on our lawns. However, the culprit is actually the high nitrogen content of the urine. Nitrogen is “the waste” in the urine and is the result of protein breakdown through normal body processes. Because a canine diet is very high in protein, there will be high levels of nitrogen, and you’ll be battling blemishes for as long as your pet uses the lawn for its place of business. 

A repeated vet school mantra was, "dilution is the solution to pollution," and that concept holds equally true in the case of urine scald on our lawns. Therefore, the best way to help prevent brown spots is either by dilution or by addressing the external environment. Besides training your male dogs to pee through the fence onto your neighbor’s lawn (kidding!), here are tips to keep your lawn lush and green:

The most effective way to prevent grass scald is to the water the area immediately after your dog urinates. If you have easy access to a hose or a rain barrel, give the area a quick dousing.  I also have a tub in my sink that I use to catch excess water when I’m at the sink; instead of letting it go down the drain, I collect it and use it to water my plants. This idea could be used to water the lawn as well, while remaining mindful of the environment.

Another intervention is the construction of a small graveled, mulched, or artificial turf area in the back or side of your yard. You can train your pet to "go to the back," and with positive reinforcement and praise, they will eventually and automatically head to that area to do their business. You can make this site visually appealing by placing potted hostas, ferns, or other greenery around the perimeter.

The kind of grass you put in your yard also determines how well it will tolerate dog urine.  Fescue and perennial ryegrass are most resistant, and diluted amounts of urine (hosing down the spot like stated above) can actually act as a fertilizer.  What are the least hardy of grasses? Kentucky Bluegrass and Bermuda grass are the most sensitive to urine scald.  Another tip: if you fertilize your lawn, use a reduced nitrogen fertilizer.

Now a word for those over-the-counter medications that are touted to be "lawn-saving supplements." I personally (and strongly) caution against their use.  Nothing you give your pet internally will safely stop urine from damaging grass, and the only appropriate interventions are those that address the environment- not the dog!  The environmental changes discussed above may be more time-consuming work, but it’s a small price to pay if you wish to have both a lush lawn and a healthy pet.

These medications work by either changing the pH of the urine, or by adding salt to the body. And it should be reiterated: urine burn is a nitrogen problem, not a pH problem. When you use medications that alter the pH of the urine, you run the risk of causing urinary crystals or bladder stones in your pet. Certain types of crystals and stones thrive in the altered pH environment, which will create a much bigger problem than a lawn blemish.  The other “lawn-saving supplements” are actually pills that contain high amounts of salt. This in turn causes your pet to drink more, thereby diluting its urine (dilute the grass, not the dog!).  Giving your pet high amounts of unnecessary salt is not a good option, and this is especially true if your pet has underlying kidney or heart disease.

Another recommendation I have heard is the use gypsum salts and this is another option I caution against.  Gypsum is calcium sulfate, and this material can cause eye, skin, oral, and respiratory irritation in our pets.

Since we’ll never be free from pee, I hope these tips have helped, and I’ll see you next week!

 

 

 

 

Dog's Life: Home & Garden
Top Tips for Spring Cleaning
From our readers

The entrants in a recent Bark contest had some incredible cleaning tips, and we want to share them with you. The reigning champion of reader cleaning solutions was vinegar, and we agree—it’s versatile, it’s green and it works. But take a look at a few other DIY tricks to kick your spring cleaning up a notch.

Throw a few feet of cheap nylon netting in the dryer with your clothes and bedding. It grabs all of the pet hair. Shake it out and reuse it.
—Andria Head, Bremerton, Wash.

A great way to recycle dog hair is composting— I put some in my worm box.
—Tima Priess, Ester, Alaska

Add a few drops of organic essential oil (lavender, peppermint, vanilla) to a cotton ball and suck it up with the vacuum. The cotton ball will give the carpet and room a nice, soothing smell with each vacuum.
—Irma Aguirre, San Francisco, Calif.

When my front-load washer gets stinky from retained moisture, I add one cup of baking soda with the next load of wash. It reduces that smell, helps brighten the wash and is more environmentally safe than the major detergent brands.
—Nyla Wright, Bellingham, Wash.

I recycle shredded newspaper and office paper by soaking it for a few days. Then I form bricks, let it dry and use it for our woodburning stove. Free heat!
—Abby Smith, Arbor Vitae, Wis.

I take all my old shirts and tear them into different size rags—some for windows, some for floors, some for dusting. I also save grease from the deep fryer, soak the rags and light my grill or fire.
—Sharon Phillips, Ashford, Ala.

Wear rubber gloves and run your hands over the furniture. The fur comes right up.
—Janice Mitchell, Maryland Heights, Mo.

The best way to remove dog fur from many furniture fabrics is to wet your hands and rub them along the furniture. Continue re-wetting your hands as they dry and removing the accumulated fur. It’s a snap.
—Barbara Morgan, Tucson, Ariz.

When your dog pulls the stuffing out of her toy, don’t throw it away. Put it out in the yard for nesting material for birds and small animals.
—Linda DeCelles, Rowley, Mass.

Place your silverware in a dish lined with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Add two tablespoons of baking soda and one teaspoon of salt. Pour hot water over and let soak for a minimum of 30 minutes. Wipe clean.
—Nikki King, Federal Way, Wash.

For cleaning “gunk” from the walls and mirrors of our rental, we found that diluted white vinegar works great. —Veronica Adrover, Modesto, Calif.

Dog's Life: Home & Garden
Tips Galore for a Green Spring Cleaning
. . .  and the living is easy-est with STAINLESS STEEL, Sharon Steel, 1960. R.C.

 

The entrants in a recent Bark contest had some incredible cleaning tips, and we want to share them with you. The reigning champion of reader cleaning solutions was vinegar, and we agree—it’s versatile, it’s green and it works. But take a look at a few other DIY tricks to kick your spring cleaning up a notch.

 

Throw a few feet of cheap nylon netting in the dryer with your clothes and bedding. It grabs all of the pet hair. Shake it out and reuse it.—Andria Head, Bremerton, Wash. 

 

A great way to recycle dog hair is composting—I put some in my worm box.—Tima Priess, Ester, Alaska

 

When my front-load washer gets stinky from retained moisture, I add one cup of baking soda with the next load of wash. It reduces that smell, helps brighten the wash and is more environmentally safe than the major detergent brands.—Nyla Wright, Bellingham, Wash.

 

I recycle shredded newspaper and office paper by soaking it for a few days. Then I form bricks, let it dry and use it for our woodburning stove.  Free heat!—Abby Smith, Arbor Vitae, Wisc.

 

I take all my old shirts and tear them into different size rags—some for windows, some for floors, some for dusting. I also save grease from the deep fryer, soak the rags and light my grill or fire.—Sharon Phillips, Ashford, Ala.

 

Add a few drops of organic essential oil (lavender, peppermint, vanilla) to a cotton ball and suck it up with the vacuum. The cotton ball will give the carpet and room a nice, soothing smell with each vacuum.—Irma Aguirre, San Francisco, Calif. 

 

The best way to remove dog fur from many furniture fabrics is to wet your hands and rub them along the furniture. Continue re-wetting your hands as they dry and removing the accumulated fur. It's a snap.—Barbara Morgan, Tucson, Ariz.

 

For cleaning “gunk” from the walls and mirrors of our rental, we found that diluted white vinegar works great.—Veronica Adrover, Modesto, Calif. 

 

Place your silverware in a dish lined with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Add two tablespoons of baking soda and one teaspoon of salt. Pour hot water over and let soak for a minimum of 30 minutes. Wipe clean.—Nikki King, Federal Way, Wash.

 

Wear rubber gloves and run your hands over the furniture. The fur comes right up.—Janice Mitchell, Maryland Heights, Mo.

 

Never get just one use out of bathwater. Recycle used water for houseplants, and to soak rags and clean waste baskets, dirty galoshes and the rest of the house.—Elissa Sara, West Palm Beach, Fla.

 

Add baking soda to a fresh vacuum cleaner bag to cut down odors.—Debby Aceves, Goleta, Calif.

 

Birds love the stuffing out of old dog toys to build nests...a new way to reuse those worn out toys!—Anna Hamel, Birmingham, Ala.

 

Buy large packages and divide them up into Tupperware to avoid all the wasteful packaging of individual servings.—Jennifer Hunter, Pepperell, Mass.

 

Don't throw out used toothbrushes. They can clean all sorts of things!—Dawn Nordquist, Albuquerque, N.M.

 

Eucalyptus leaves are natural flea and tick deterrents.—Meghann Pierce, Napa, Calif.

 

How many ways can you reuse plastic grocery bags? 1. To line small garbage cans. 2. I cut them up in strips and then tie them together to make a plastic yarn to knit with. This makes great tote bags. 3. As a poop scooper when you walk your dog.—Diane Jay, Fort Worth, Texas

 

I have laminate flooring and a dog that slobbers. I run a dust mop with a bit of white vinegar between cleanings to cuts down on stains.—Erika Bongort, Cedar Park, Texas

 

I use lemon peel to clean my sink, and afterwards I put it down the waste disposal. It cuts the grease and smells lovely.—Ali French, Parker, Colo.

 

I use diatomaceous earth on my floors and yard to keep fleas away; I use borax as a cleaner on hard surfaces and add it to the washing machine as a laundry booster; I clean clogged/slow-moving drains with baking soda and vinegar, flushed with a gallon of boiling water.—Elizabeth Beavers, Lawrence, Kan.

 

Lavender oil in a spray bottle (4 parts water to 1 part oil) keeps fleas, ticks and other bugs off you and your animals!—Wendy Bennett, Micanopy, Fla.

 

To keep drains from clogging, use 1/4 baking soda followed by 1/2 cup white vinegar and flush down the drain. It foams way up and works!—Pat Byrnes, Northampton, Mass.

 

To remove candle wax off of carpet:  place some ice cubes in a plastic bag against the wax on the carpet.  The ice should make the wax brittle and easy to pick/pull off of the carpet.—Dianne Houghtaling, Lansdale, Pa.

 

Wash windows with vinegar and water instead of window cleaners.—Boni Tenenbaum, Dublin, Calif.

 

Using a steam cleaner eliminates the need for chemicals.—Roz Granitz, Novi, Mich.

 

We use beeswax or soy candles with lead-free wicks so not to poison ourselves or our puppy when we use candles.—Susan Weis-Bohlen, Baltimore, Md.

 

Use hydrogen peroxide to kill germs and bacteria instead of bleach.—Amy Miller, Eagle point, Ore.

 

To replace disposable paper towels for cleaning, cut up old bath towels and worn t-shirts. Socks make great furniture dusters.—Gina Isaac, Eugene, Ore.

 

Microfiber cloths are about the best there is to attract and grab pet hair and with 2 Dalmatians, I need them!  They're washable and reusable.—Barbara Brandon, Parma, Ohio

 

We take advantage of our building's composting so that we cut down on trash. Since there's not rotting food in the trash bin, we don't have to take it out as often. With the combo of compost and recycling, the volume of trash really dwindles.—Lijay Shih, San Francisco, Calif.

 

When your dog pulls the stuffing out of her toy, don’t throw it away. Put it out in the yard for nesting material for birds and small animals.—Linda DeCelles, Rowley, Mass.

News: Guest Posts
The Messiest, Most Miserable Walk Ever
Poop bag mishaps

I was prepared. I had stuffed two poop bags in my pocket. You’d think that the magic number was two because I was walking two dogs, Shelby and Ginger Peach. But you know what they say when one assumes …

After years of observing my dogs’ on-leash habits in the wilds of semi-rural suburbia (yes, there are cows, goats and chickens along our route, but there’s also a Starbucks “in town”), I’d bet my life on Shelby pooping twice and GP marking every grass blade before pooping in public. Two large bags would be plenty, even if Shelby went for a triple.

Within the first quarter mile, both girls had taken care of business, or as my husband and I call it “Number three.” (Dog lovers will know how to do the math.) Not only was this a speed record, but it made me a little anxious. Shelby was guaranteed to repeat, and here I was bagless. At least she created neat piles of small, round pellets, like a giant rabbit. They’re easy to pick up, even with the tail end of a pre-used bag. When it comes to poop pick up, I’m MacGyver, I can make two leaves work!

Not this time.

Halfway through our walk, GP squatted again, and the soft serve consistency was such that no dog owner would even think of scooping. I mean, the idea was truly laughable! We could just continue on our merry way. It was then that I noticed a pick-up truck idling near us, no doubt the homeowner angrily observing my dog’s lovely decoration on his beautiful green lawn. I had to at least try to pick it up.

First I sprinkled some leaves over the top, then stretching the least full bag out as best I could, placed it over the pile. While I did my best to grab whatever I could without getting anything on my hands, Shelby and GP excitedly wagged their tails at the truck driver. After what seemed like hours, I had bagged barely anything and mostly managed to coat my fingers in brown goo, which I felt the ridiculous need to wave at the homeowner as we made our hasty exit.

Once we were out of sight of any people, I maniacally brushed my hands against the grass, in a futile attempt to clean them. Instead, I managed to get some poop on the leashes as I transferred them from one hand to the other. The dogs sniffed this with interest. (Did they actually understand the four-letter expletive I muttered, indicating it to me like their ball?) I gestured for them to keep moving forward, and accidentally dabbed the top of Shelby’s head in the process.

Normally, our route is quiet on weekday afternoons, but we passed by several neighbors who seemed eager for me to stop and chit chat. I did my best not to fling poop at them as we rushed by, hoping my brown hands were camouflaged by my brown dogs and their brown leather leashes.

Finally, we made it home without further incident. I thought the worst was over, till my husband pointed out that I had what appeared to be something brown in my hair.

Dog's Life: Humane
Me and My (Unemployed) Dog

It’s another monday morning, and I’m reading the Times and sipping my coffee at an hour when most respectable people are already at work, or at least on their way. Like I used to be. Bam! The “Arts” section flies into my face as Tillie, my two-year-old Lab, head-butts her way onto my lap.

“You need a job,” I tell her as I rub her ears and wipe the sleep out of her eyes.

“Hell, I need a job,” I add.

It’s true. But had I been employed, Tillie wouldn’t have been here in my New York apartment, watching my every move to see what the day would bring. On the contrary, she was a direct result of my lack of a job — the beneficiary of my desire to accomplish something worthwhile while I had free time on my hands. Tillie is the second puppy I’ve raised for the Guide Dog Foundation. The first, Cathy, is now a working guide dog, and the pride of my life. Tillie, though quite wonderful, is a slacker. It was allergies that got her booted out of the guide-dog program and onto my couch.

So now we find ourselves in the same boat. Long days stretch ahead of the two of us like shadows on a late-summer afternoon. The intervals between our snack breaks seem to be getting shorter and shorter, and if either one of us makes even the slightest move toward the kitchen, the other is right behind. Our once-idle friends, who were always available for a romp in the park or a late-afternoon glass of wine, have moved on to big jobs and left us behind. Corey, Tillie’s favorite yellow Lab, is off guiding in New Hampshire. Leslie, my pal since college, is working such long hours that I rarely see her.

Too much free time can make you crazy. I recognize Til lie’s obsessive tendencies only because they mirror my own. She keeps a steady watch for the mean dog next door: I constantly check for Facebook updates. On our daily runs, she pees in the exact same three spots and I count my steps between lampposts. She chases her tail, I fruitlessly launch résumés into the ether. Really, the only difference between us is her lack of concern about money.

We did try the volunteer circuit, even before Tillie was tossed from Guide Dogs. An outing with an elderly woman suffering from Parkinson’s disease nearly gave me a heart attack, with my Parkinson’s lady hanging on to my right arm for dear life as Tillie yanked in the opposite direction on my left. Maybe we’ll give it another shot when she’s a little older. And the therapy dog thing? Let’s just say that neither of us survived the screening process. But I do suspect we’ll both get over that and try again, sooner or later.

I feel bad about Tillie not having a job. I understand how she feels. Like in the mornings, when that ad with Roscoe the bedbug-sniffing dog comes on TV and her head swivels around from its spot on my pillow, her eyes blazing with envy. Or when folks ask how Cathy is doing, and I feel like I should cover Tillie’s ears before recounting the stories about what a superstar guide my first puppy has become.

But then again, maybe I’m just projecting. Maybe she really doesn’t want to work. In fact, when I think about it, it seems as though those “allergies” that were making her so itchy right before she was about to go in for her formal guide-dog training suspiciously disappeared as soon as she was released to me. And she does love that couch. But in my opinion, she’s way too young for retirement. And so am I.

Now, together, we’re trying out a new job. We’re helping to raise Bau, an eightmonth- old future guide dog. I have a lot to teach him, and he has a lot to learn — mostly how “not” to do things. Like how not to trample the daffodils, how not to run down the stairs with a dog bed in his mouth, and how not to launch a stealth attack over a glass coffee table. Tillie’s lessons seem to be more focused on things like successful strategies for tug-of-war, tag and keep-away.

I hope Tillie doesn’t become too much of a role model for Bau. After all, I don’t want him to get any big ideas. He only has five months or so to go before he heads off to work, and I worry that Tillie’s going to make this whole jobless thing look a lot more appealing than it really is. I guess I’ll just have to keep an eye on her, and make sure she keeps her opinions to herself. The last thing I need is another bum under my roof.

Wellness: Healthy Living
Get Smart about Pet Allergies

Let’s start with some tough truths. “Non-allergic” or hypo-allergenic dogs do not exist (sorry, Bo Obama). You can’t eliminate dog’s allergens with special shampoos, topical sprays or oral agents. And there’s little evidence steam-cleaning carpets and upholstery helps control pet allergies.

That’s the myth-busting word from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). But all is not lost. ACAAI offers a few research-based suggestions for reducing pet allergen levels in the home.

Replace carpeting with hardwood, stone or tile. Carpeted floors act like big sponges that hold a hodgepodge of dust and allergens.

Limit or remove fabric-upholstered furniture and curtains. You want smooth surfaces from which you can wipe away allergens.

Wash bedding and curtains in one of three ways—in water at least 140°F with one rinse; at any temperature with two rinses; or in a steam-washing machine.

Use tightly woven protective coverings (with openings less than 4 microns) on mattresses, box springs and pillows.

Don’t groom pets in your home.

But before you do anything, be sure to accurately diagnose the problem. “I can’t tell you how many times I see patients who assume they’re allergic to a cat or dog and they get rid of it. Then we do the allergy testing and discover it wasn’t the animal,” says Dr. James L. Sublett, a practicing allergist in Louisville. “It’s unfortunate when you see that happen.”

Find a board-certified allergist at www.allergyandasthmarelief.org.

Wellness: Healthy Living
Cleaning Confidential
Clean Green
Cleaning up after your dog. Tips on using green products.

Can you say “methylchloroisothiazolinone?” Neither can I. But it’s one of the ingredients in a pet stain- and odor-remover product that, while probably very effective, may irritate eyes and skin. That’s why the label also says “keep out of reach of children.” For spring cleaning this year, many of us who live with dogs are looking for more earthfriendly, naturally derived products. Here are some tips and concoctions that will help reduce the chemicals in your home and keep it safer for your floor-sleeping pups.

• You can make basic, inexpensive solutions for treating carpet stains and odors with common household products like a water/ white vinegar mix (2/3 cup water to 1/3 cup vinegar), escalated if necessary to a water/mild detergent solution (1 cup water to 1/4 teaspoon of a clear dishwashing detergent like Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid). Apply carefully to avoid soaking the carpet, and use clean white rags or white paper towels to blot.

• You’ll also find a multitude of commercial products to remove pet stains and odors from carpets and hard surfaces. To make sure you’re getting natural, chemical-free solutions, look for those made from plant-based solvents such as soy, orange, cinnamon and lemon grass oil, grapefruit peel extract, and other biodegradable ingredients. Enzymes are also natural, and great for protein-based stains and odors. Other products in this eco-friendly category include Halo HolistiClean Super Stain and Odor Remover Dog Formula, Restore Enz-Away Spot Remover, Simple Solution PawSafe Household Cleaners and brands like Clean & Green, Nature’s Miracle, Crypton, PetZyme, Oxy Solution and Clorox Green Works.

• If you’re considering a product that’s not strictly natural, check label precautions carefully. Warnings and long, unpronounceable words are red flags, and good reasons to be particularly careful when using (and storing) them.

Bottom line: read those labels —even on products that call themselves “natural.” Look for plant-based biodegradable ingredients that are safe for people and pets. You want it all, and with a little diligence, you can have it —at least on the cleaning front.

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