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While my sense of smell isn’t anything like a dog’s, it is perhaps more keen than many other people’s — and that’s both good and bad. On the bad side, I can’t abide strong, offensive odors (including those that come from sharing my life with pets). On the good side, my nose helps me with my work, since identifying smells is one of a veterinarian’s best diagnostic tools.
I don’t own my own veterinary practice anymore, but I still love to work as a veterinarian when I’m not being one in the media. The two practices where I work when I can (North Idaho Animal Hospital and Lakewood Animal Hospital) are as dedicated as I am to what I call a “smell neutral” environment: fresh, clean hospitals that smell neither like pet odors nor like cleaning products.
It probably won’t surprise you that my wife and I work hard to make sure our home is also “smell neutral.” Over the years, I’ve picked up a lot of tricks and cleaned up a lot of messes, and since I know pet mess in general is the top complaint of pet lovers, I want to share the secrets of a smell-conscious veterinarian. While products may vary — I am always on the lookout for better, more effective and faster ways to “keep it clean” — the steps to an odor-free home when you live with pets remain the same.
How many times have you looked at an open house or vacant apartment and knew that pet lovers lived there before you dropped in? Even though the place may be empty, the carpets carefully vacuumed and free of pet hair, the smell lingers — and nothing you can spray in the air will override it for long. But I’ve also been in homes where you can’t tell pets were in the family. The difference in many cases is time. When a pet makes a mess, time is not on your side. Don't neglect the daily duties: When your cat uses the box or your dog goes in the yard, scoop and toss right away.
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