Owning a pet can be one of life’s great pleasures. They relieve stress, help us get out and exercise more, and can be a great sounding board. They are always happy to see us and make great companions. But if you suffer from allergies or asthma, they can quickly go from best friend to worst enemy.

That is the case in my house. My wife and I love animals and have always had a pet of some sort around. But my wife suffers from allergies and pet dander can play havoc on her health. In order for us to keep pets we have to take extra steps to keep the pet dander and dust down in our house. Here are some of the things we do to keep our exposure to pet dander to a minimum.

Baby Jean

Keep floors clean. If someone in your house suffers from allergens then you have to step up your floor cleaning. Vacuuming floors regularly is an effective way to reduce the allergens that collect on bare floors, rugs, and carpets. However, vacuuming may kick up allergens into the air. If possible, vacuum when the person suffering from allergies is away. Also use a HEPA filter in your vacuum.   

Deep clean. If you have carpets, get them on a regular basis. This will help remove the allergens that regular vacuuming won’t remove. Also consider steam cleaning your furniture as well. Vacuum couches, chairs, drapes and other fabrics that may collect allergens. Periodically wash throw rugs, pillows, pet beds and blankets. Make sure not to forget cleaning ceiling fans and light fixtures.

Keep litter boxes clean. Litter boxes should be kept clean and moved out of living areas. We keep ours in the garage and the cats can access it through a pet door from the house. If you have cages for birds or rodents or crate your pets make sure to keep these clean. If possible, move these to areas of the house that the allergy sufferer doesn’t frequent. 

Bathe your pet regularly. Frequently washing your pet has been shown to reduce allergens, but this is more effective for dogs than it is for cats. Not only does bathing reduce dander but it also washes off any pollen your pet may have picked up from rolling in the grass or brush. Reduce allergens from your cat

A good diet means less dander. Many mistakenly believe that allergies come from an animal’s hair. However, most allergic reactions result from exposure to dander, which are the dead flaky skin cells on pets. A good well balanced diet will help cut down on dander. Also consider adding fish oil to your pet’s food to keep their skin and coat shiny and healthy.

Control air circulation. If you have allergies, consider and changing them more often than is typically required. Consider closing heat registers in rooms where the person with allergies spends much of their time. Be wary of turning on fans as this may stir up dander and other allergens.

Designate pet free areas. Keep pets off couches, upholstered furniture, and beds. Restricting pets from specific rooms, such as bedrooms, can also help the allergy sufferer. Consider keeping pets out of the vehicle, or at least allowing them only in the far back.

These are many of the steps we take to maintain a balance between our pets and my wife’s allergies. Although keeping up with cleaning this much can be a headache, it pays off in being able to have pets in our house.

 

Sean ArmstrongSean Armstrong is an advocate for clean air and healthy living. He tends to worry about too many things he can’t control, and has recently been following environmental issues and sharing what he learns with others.

 

By Natalie Gomez 8 days ago at 3:30 pm 0 Comments
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Let's face it -- we love our pets, but the constant dirt and fur they leave all over the house? Not so much. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your pets comfortable and maintain a beautiful home. Below are some tried-and-tested tricks to help you keep your pets' mess at bay.

Regular Hair Grooming

Regular grooming or even just brushing your pet's hair thoroughly in the garage effectively lessens shedding. Trim their hair to keep them from scratching and brush their coats to take away loose fur.

Grooming

Regular Nail Trimmings

Having your pet's nails clipped on a regular basis helps reduce scratch marks on furniture, carpets, and doors. If you have cats, get a scratching post to give them a constant place to claw on.

Nail Trimmings

Towel by the Door

Before your pets enter the house, wipe their paws on a towel to keep them from tracking mud, dirt, or snow across your floor. For rainy and snowy days, leave a small basin of warm water by the door before taking the dogs out for a walk. When you return, wash their paws and then dry them with a towel before letting them back in.

Pet Sponges

Keep a handful of pet sponges on hand for stray fur. These can be found at pet supply stores and come in handy when removing hair from fabric upholstery, clothes, and blankets. They are used dry, so you don't have to worry about getting your fabrics damp during cleanup.

Pet Blankets

If your pets have that special place in the house they keep coming back to, then make them more comfortable. Spread a blanket to catch any fur or dirt they might leave behind. Afterwards, shake out their blankets to get rid of the dirt.

Blankets

Mat-lined Food Bowls

Some pets are just messy eaters. Protect your floor by placing a rubber-backed mat under their food bowls. This keeps the bowls from sliding all across your floor as it catches spills. Once your pets are done eating, simply shake off the mat. In case they spill water, soak the liquid out with newspaper before cleaning the mat.

Food Bowls

Mat-lined Litter Boxes

For cat owners, line the litter box with a mat to catch erratic litter that sometimes gets stuck underneath your cat's paws. The mat traps litter every time your cat walks out of the box.

Toy Box

Store all your pet's toys in a box and keep it somewhere accessible, but out of the way. This is helpful if you have small children as it reduces the risk of stepping or tripping on small items. If you have the time, you can also train your pets to put their toys back in the box by themselves.

Toy Box

Clean-up Kit

To make cleanup easier, prepare a kit that you can just grab from under the sink. Items such as spray-stain removers, towels, paper towels or old newspapers, and wet wipes in a bucket or basket can come in handy.

Clean-up Kit

Baking Soda

Baking soda is an efficient cleaning agent and odor remover. Use it in litter boxes or cages to get rid of unpleasant scents. In case of "accidents," on carpets or rugs, sprinkle liberally on the spot and leave overnight to soak in the odor. Vacuum the next day or even better, air-dry under the sun.

Finally, don't forget to ask for help. Professional cleaners can get rid of the more stubborn stains, while pet trainers can give you tips on training your furry friends. Make cleanup easier and less tiring for you by being prepared and anticipating your pet's needs.

 

Jennifer Lutz

Jennifer Lutz writes about home-related topics at blog.christmastreemarket.com.

 

 

 

By Natalie Gomez 18 days ago at 2:00 pm 0 Comments
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Properly socializing shy, timid dogs eliminates fear-based aggression. It also allows you and your furry friend to enjoy trips and activities together that are impossible with (and terrifying for) a fearful dog. Use these tips to design positive, productive training experiences that transform your bashful pup into a confident companion.

Six Tips for Training and Socializing a Shy Dog

Set the Place, Not the Pace

Introduce new people in a place where your dog feels safe, allowing the dog to make the first move, rather than letting strangers approach the animal. Visit with guests as usual and let your dog decide when and if introductions are necessary. Pushing too hard can cause the dog to react aggressively, so provide opportunities for your dog to socialize but don't force unwanted interactions with strangers.

Avoid Coddling

Resist the urge to calm a puppy that is showing fearful behavior, such as whimpering or whining. A soothing voice, gentle stroking and being picked up all unintentionally reward the dog for showing fear. Instead, ignore fearful behaviors that occur at inappropriate and unnecessary times.

Positive Reinforcement

Avoid rewarding unwanted behavior, but always praise shy dogs when they display confidence and bravery. Reward a timid dog with treats, attention and praise immediately after positive behaviors. Positive reinforcement is more effective than attempting to punish unwanted actions.

Treat After

When training a dog with treat or food rewards, always give a treat in clear response to appropriate behavior rather than using the treat in attempt to prompt the behavior. Tasty treats and real pet food can be effective for luring a dog into a situation outside their comfort level, but when the food distraction is gone, the dog may suddenly feel exposed and lash out or hide in fear.

One-on-One Training

Ironically, socialization training is best begun in private sessions rather than group classes. Learning and practicing basic obedience skills strengthens the bond between dog and owner, giving both the confidence to stay calm and trust each other later in more stressful and distracting socialization exercises.

Keep It Simple

Socializing dogs involves new experiences, as well as new people and animals. Exploring new sounds, sights, smells, textures, weather and tastes all build confidence. Things as simple as ice cubes, paper bags and opening umbrellas are interesting to puppies or under-socialized pets.

Proper training helps meek dogs face the world with excitement rather than fear. To set your pet up for success, allow your dog to set the pace during socialization activities and provide an escape route in case things get too intense. Curiosity will overcome trepidation with time and patience.

 

Emma Sturgis

Emma Sturgis is a freelance writer currently living in Boston. When not writing, she enjoys baking and indoor rock climbing. Find her on Google +

 

 

By Natalie Gomez on May 28, 2014 at 12:00 am 0 Comments
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