Understanding Pet Accidents in the Home – Part 1

“Don’t you have something to spray on this to take care of the smell?” This is a question we often hear, especially in the humid summer months. We wish it was that easy. If we had a spray like that we would have probably retired already. But, unfortunately, there is not. The good news is that we can help with this. But in order to do this one needs to understand pet accidents in the home. First, why are pet accidents so hard to remove and second, the problem with amount.

Understanding Pet Accidents

Why are pet accidents (urine) so hard to remove? When the accident first happens urine is in a liquid form and quite easy to remove; just vacuum or absorb it up, and the problem is solved. The trouble begins when it dries. Urine that dries forms urine salts, crystals that form on carpet strands. (Imagine rock candy: sugar is dissolved in hot water and strings are placed in the water during the cooling process. The sugar collects around the strings in the form of sugar crystals. This process is similar to what is happening in your carpet, but not nearly as desirable.) Bacteria begin to feed on the dried urine and cause the unpleasant smell that prompts the opening question. Why not just clean the area? The issue with this is the urine salts will not clean off with detergents and water. They must be dissolved off with other types of cleaners and deodorizers. A cleaning will remove temporarily remove the bacteria but not the urine. Immediately bacteria begin to grow again.This process of removing urine is much slower and involved than a simple cleaning for soil, grease, food, etc.

Second, the pet accidents are often complicated because a pet may start to develop a bad habit in an area we may not see. Cats, for instance, may start spraying a wall behind furniture or in a corner in a lower level. A dog may start lifting it’s leg in an out of the way place. If the bad habit begins in drier months like winter it may not be noticed. As the warmer, humid air of spring and summer come, the problem seems to suddenly appear, the moisture triggering the smell. By the time the problem is noticed many ‘deposits’ may have been made, sometimes dozens! At this point the urine has penetrated the carpet, carpet backing, and padding. The tackless strip may be affected, trim may have absorbed urine, furniture and walls may have urine dried on them. While the carpet may be the most obvious source of odor it is by no means the only one.

So the bottom line: there is no simple spray. But it can be treated! We can discuss options that may work in your situation. Part 2 will discuss some of these.


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In fact, soiling accidents are unavoidable in the early days of training, even if you keep a constant eye on your puppy. What’s most important is that you learn how to handle these situations correctly, since improper disciplinary actions can result in bad habits.

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