3 secrets for keeping your pet-friendly apartment from smelling like your pet

By Jennifer Laing  | October 7, 2015 - 8:59AM

You and your pet live in a small NYC apartment, ergo the litter box is not tucked away in the basement; there's no mud room for toweling off the dog after walk in the rain; no backyard to double as your pet’s personal privy; and all the odors associated with these activities are trapped within your four walls. So what’s a pet-loving New Yorker to do? Here, Michael Farber, DVM, owner and chief of staff of West Chelsea Veterinary, shares his thoughts on controlling the stinkiest of pet-related smells.

The dirty box: The longer the dirty litter sits in the box, the longer the smell will linger in your home. Instead, get rid of the soiled litter daily or, better yet, twice a day into the toilet—if your litter and plumbing allows—or into a sealed container for later dumping. Clumping cat litter is the easiest to scoop and doesn't have to be changed as frequently as the non-clumping kind. That said, the best litter for your cat is the one she doesn’t object to using. The same goes for the litter box. You may want a hooded version, but she might prefer an open pan. Go with the cat’s pick. “The top reason for cats not using its box is they don’t like it for some reason,” says Farber, who recommends adding a rubber mat under the box or up the wall incase the cat should accidentally miss his target. And if you have multiple cats, be prepared to have multiple litter boxes. Not all cats like to share.

The wet pet: If you have a dog, you know the drill. After a walk on a wet day, your dog shakes off some moisture and then rolls around on the rugs or furniture to dry off further and suddenly the entire apartment smells like wet dog. A number of factors contribute to that singular scent: underlying glandular issues, skin oils, the thickness of a dog coat. Whatever the case, your best defense is a solid offense: Shampoo your dog every three to four weeks to keep his coat clean (the less trapped dirt and oil, the less likely the coat is to smell when wet), and keep a bunch of towels by the front door for using immediately after a walk in the rain.

The stinky food: The smellier the food the more enticing it is to the pet, especially house cats who also depend on the added moisture in wet food to compensate for the dehydrating effects of an arid apartment. Since leaving wet food out for long periods just allows for its smell to linger—not to mention leads to spoiling and attracts pests—your best bet is serve wet food as a meal, says Farber. He suggests serving up the food for 30 minutes, two to three times a day. Longer and it can attract bugs (and who needs that?) or end up spoiling, which can result in an even stinkier, and unhealthy, situation. 


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