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Pets and a Clean House: Can They Coexist?

Of course you love Fido and Fifi, but is it possible to keep pets, and keep a house clean too?
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Fur. Dander. Litterboxes. “Accidents.” Let’s face it, having pets in the family can add a lot to your list come cleaning time. But keeping a clean house with pets is not impossible -- it just requires some extra work. So, what do you need to know to keep a clean house with pets?

Pets and a Clean House: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

The biggest cleanliness challenge for many pet owners: hair. While there are no breeds that don’t shed at all, some -- like Labradoodles, Bichon Frises, and Schnauzers -- shed very little. Others shed considerably more. “Double-coated” breeds of dog, such as Akitas and Siberian Huskies, shed their soft undercoats twice a year, in a process that can leave furballs the size of tumbleweeds on your floor.

When keeping a house clean with pets, everyone has their own preferences for scooping up hair: Swiffers, hand-held vacuums, dustpans. But you can minimize how much cleaning up you have to do if you start with proper grooming.

“Brushing your dog or cat regularly will decrease the amount of hair in the air and on the floor,” says Nancy Katz, DVM, a veterinarian in Montclair, N.J. “Ideally, you should brush your pet a few times a week, just a quick brushing to get the coat out. If you collect it on the brush, it’s not on the floor.”

Brushing a cat regularly can also decrease their health problems related to hair, such as constipation and hairballs -- something that will also keep your house significantly cleaner.

Brush your pet outside, if possible, so there’s no need to sweep up after your grooming, and select the right tools for the breed you have. Katz swears by a brand known as the “Furminator,” but advises checking with your own groomer or vet to see what best suits your pet.

What about bathing? Cats will clean themselves, unless they are ill or elderly. Most dogs should not be bathed more than once a month, unless they’ve been rolling in dirt, because too-frequent bathing can dry out the natural oils in their skin.

 Particularly if you have pets that shed frequently, such as double-coated dogs or long-hair cats like Persians, it’s important to check your air filters. How often? It depends on how many pets you have and how much they shed.

“At my office, we obviously need to change our filters more often because we have a lot of animals coming through, and we do grooming,” says Katz. “Check your filters every two to four weeks and determine how much stress you’re putting on them; that should let you know how often they need to be changed. If you keep them clean, the less work your heating and cooling system has to do, so you can save money as well.”

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