Easy remedies for three common pet messes

Get rid of rug stains, skunk odor, and brown spots in the lawn

Published: May 14, 2015 07:00 PM

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When you share your home with a cat or dog you have to be prepared to take the good with the bad.  Sure they’re good company but they can also do some damage to your house and yard. Fortunately, there are some quick and easy fixes for some of the most common problems, leaving you time to walk the dog or cuddle the cat.

Stains on a rug

If your area rug is made of nylon or wool and the problem is a cat that often pees in the same spot, your best bet is an enzyme-based pet stain and odor remover such as Nature’s Miracle or Brampton’s Simple Solution. Check the instructions and test a small area first. A 4- to 6-inch stain will spread into the back of the rug and pad below, so the area is really about 2 feet in diameter.

For any pet stain, wet the entire area with the enzyme pet-stain remover, including the back of the rug and the pad. (Try to put a plastic sheet under it first.) Be sure to follow the directions on the container for drying the area; they often say to let the product dry for a day or more while the enzymes work on the urine residue. If all has gone well, the urine smell and residue will be gone, but you might still have a stain on your rug. If that’s the case, try blotting the area with a mixture of one-third cup white vinegar and two-thirds cup water. That doesn’t always work, but it’s definitely worth trying.

Stains on carpeting are harder to deal with because you can’t get at the pad easily. And excess cleaner can damage the floor beneath. In that case, you may need a professional carpet cleaner.

Skunk odor

To deodorize the coat of a dog or cat that has been sprayed by a skunk, try the following: In a large, open container, mix a quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide from a fresh bottle, 1⁄4 cup of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap (be sure your container is large—the mixture can produce a great deal of foam). Then work the mixture into the animal’s fur, making sure to keep it out of the eyes—the mixture is nontoxic, but the salt from the baking soda will sting. Let it sit until the odor has abated and then rinse thoroughly. Repeat if necessary.

Brown spots on the lawn

The dog did it. That’s right, if you have a dog, you can blame those brown spots of grass on the nitrogen in its urine. Sometimes the spots can grow large enough to require reseeding. And despite a cottage industry of dietary supplements for dogs designed to neutralize nitrogen and prevent burns, turf experts say the surest way to eliminate them is to pour a bucket of water onto the urine right after your dog goes. That takes vigilance, not to mention it's a waste of water.

A better, perhaps more challenging solution is to train your dog to go in a designated area of the yard. You’ll have more luck if you start when your pooch is a puppy. Providing a marking post, such as a bird bath or lawn ornament, might help. And ask your vet if changing the dog’s diet or giving it more water can help dilute the urine before it hits the lawn, for example by using canned food or moistening dry food with water.

--Adapted from Consumer Reports' "How to Clean (Practically) Anything"  with reporting from lawn care experts

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