Over time, you acclimate to the smell of dog in your apartment. That might sound like a good thing, but it's not. Once you stop noticing pet odors, you're more likely to be less proactive about cleaning. This is unfortunate for friends and family who come to visit. Instead of becoming the person whose home nobody wants to go to, take consistent appropriate steps to keep your and your doggy's home from starting to stink.
A Lean, Mean Routine Clean
Clean your apartment regularly. It may sound obvious, but it's the most important part of preventing your home from smelling like dog, and it's an area where lots of people get lazy. Mop hard floor surfaces at least every few days. Vacuum other floors as often, and remember to get the surfaces of couches, chairs and other furniture your dog sits or lies on. Launder your dog's bedding and wash her toys weekly. If she uses some sort of litter box or pee pad, clean it often. Also, fresh air circulation is your friend; keep windows open whenever possible, especially in the rooms your pooch spends the most time in.
A Recipe for Freshness
A few of the things in your kitchen aren't just for cooking -- some are effective pet-friendly cleaning products on the side. Get well-acquainted with baking soda, because there's not much it can't do. Perhaps you already have it in the fridge to soak up odors; now put it to use elsewhere to clean and deodorize. Sprinkle it over carpets and other surfaces, let it sit for about 30 minutes, then vacuum it up. Mix it with water to create a cleaning slurry. Cornstarch works almost as well as baking soda, and vinegar is a great disinfectant. It stinks for a little while, but the smell dissipates quickly. Lemon juice is another natural cleanser that imparts a fresh scent.
Don't Let Pet Wet Set
If your dog has an accident, clean it up right away, before the odor has a chance to work its way into the floor. Pick up or soak up whatever you can, then use an enzymatic cleaning product to take care of the rest. Such products don't just mask smells, they truly neutralize them by dissolving the mess. If you can't promptly and properly address the mess, spritz it with water periodically to keep it moist until you can deal with it -- it will come up easier that way. Use an enzymatic cleaner exactly as specified in the manufacturer's instructions.
Not a Spot on Spot
All dogs have a natural musk, but no dog is inherently foul-smelling. Keep your pooch clean and fresh-smelling to help keep your apartment the same. Bathe her with a soap-free, deodorizing canine shampoo or human baby shampoo when she's dirty or staring to smell. In general, bathe a dog only once every two to four months, except as necessitated by soiling or odor. Better, get a personalized recommendation about bathing frequency and products from your vet. Brush your pet daily to control oily buildup on her skin, and brush her teeth every day to freshen her breath. Clean her ears as necessary and monitor them for signs of infection, like a foul odor, swelling, redness or discharge. Follow your vet's advice for managing skin conditions, anal sac compactions or other health conditions causing odor problems.
A Word of Warning
Many commercial cleaning products aren't pet-safe, containing ingredients that can cause chemical burns, poisoning, respiratory difficulties or other health problems for your dog. Don't use cleansers containing ammonia or chlorine, but bleach is OK as long as you thoroughly rinse the area and let it dry before your dog has access to where it was used. Also, avoid products containing glycol ethers or formaldehyde. In general, assume that any chemical all-purpose cleaner or chemical cleaner for carpets, floors, windows, bathrooms or laundry are potentially dangerous for your dog, as are most chemical products for unclogging drains.
Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.