Let’s face it: animals smell. Pets are one of the more common sources for household odors, whether it’s an open can of food, a litter box, a neglected aquarium, or something you inadvertently tracked in with your shoes from the dog’s yard. Sometimes the animal itself just has a particular odor that no amount of bathing or washing can remove.
So what can you do?
Well, for starters, if you keep more than one pet in the house, especially dogs or cats, you may want to consider trying a carbon air filter. They come in a variety of sizes, and can be made to fit in most HVAC units and air purifiers. Offensive odors are attracted to and held by the unique properties of the activated carbon material. If there is a particular area of the home where the pets usually reside, you may want to consider placing an air purifier unit in that room with a carbon filter for that purpose. This is also helpful for those who keep small pets such as hamsters, rabbits, ferrets, etc. Having an air purifier in the room that the animal’s cage is in will not only help reduce odors, but also cut down on pet dander from fur and cage bedding, improving the air quality in general.
For those with aquariums or small pets, one can also use Ammonia Remover or Zeo-Lite (sometimes sold as Zeo-Carb, depending on the brand). These products are typically sold for aquarium use, and, as the names imply, they help reduce the build-up of ammonia in one’s fish tank. Zeo-Lite is a mixture of ammonia and carbon media, which as mentioned earlier, generally reduces odors. Both products are sold in a variety of forms, often tailor-made to fit certain filter models. One can also buy the media in bulk.
If you have a small furry pet, such as a hamster or rabbit, you can use Ammonia Remover, Zeo-Lite or even baking soda to help reduce odors in their cage. Simply sprinkle a small amount along the bottom of the cage before adding the bedding or shavings, or for hamsters, pour a little into the corners (hamsters are latrine animals and prefer to do their “business” in the corners of their cage). The result is that the media will help absorb ammonia from the animals’ waste, and reduce odor. Of course, routine cleaning and maintenance plays a major role in keeping the smell factor down, but every little bit helps, right?
[NOTE: I would not suggest using straight carbon for any of these animals, nor would I use ammonia remover, Zeo-Lite, or baking soda in the cage for a bird. Birds are more sensitive to foreign materials.]
One last method for controlling odors (and one of my personal favorites) is a much more natural approach, and certainly more aesthetically pleasing: live plants.
Now I’ll admit that in a household of 2-3 large dogs, or the home of the proverbial “crazy cat lady” one is going to need a LOT of plants to make a dent in any odor problem (if the dogs are secretly using them as substitute fire hydrants!). But in a more conservative setting, having at least one large potted plant in each room of the house can help reduce any reasonably small foul odors. Just be sure to research which plants are safe for homes with pets, and be diligent to care and water them, and not only will your home have a pleasant “planty” smell, but you’ll have some nice décor as well.
This technique is not limited to the corners of your living room or your kitchen window sill. Having live plants in your fish aquarium will accomplish the same goal; plants help absorb ammonia and nitrates in the water that comes from the fishes’ waste, and generally keeps the water cleaner, clearer and not smelly.
It even works in terrariums with reptiles and amphibians, too! Adding a few live plants can turn a drab-looking reptile tank into a nice, naturalistic display that adds more color and decoration for the animals to interact with. Many hobbyists take it a step further and create what is called a “bioactive substrate system:” essentially a substrate that contains live worms and invertebrates, and live plants, all contributing to a self-sustaining micro-ecosystem that rarely requires any heavy cleaning. Of course, it smells nice, too!
Hopefully, some of these tips will be of some help to you, with whatever kind of pet you own. Obviously, regular maintenance and care is paramount (for instance, a neglected kitty litter box that hasn’t been cleaned in a week will stink no matter what!), but implementing some of these tricks may help cut down on some of the odors you experience in your home.