Tuesday 16 May 2017

Pet Cleanliness in the Home feat. BISSELL*

Having previously never had my own house, I never really worried about cleanliness. This was something that was always left to my parents but since moving out and being a pet owner, I have really come to notice how much things really need cleaning. Biscuit is a fluffy cat so I am often left with his fluff and fur all over the carpets, as well as mud and whatever else he brings through his cat-flap. Luckily he does not go to the toilet indoors but he is a messy eater so there is always that to contend with too!

I first noticed what a difference Biscuit made when he moved in. We had gotten away with cleaning less often before he arrived but as soon as he moved in it was apparent that we needed to keep on top of the cleaning more. Some research has been done into the cleaning habits of pet owners and the importance of ensuring a deep clean to keep you and your family members safe. Dr Pixie Mckenna has teamed up with carpet cleaning experts BISSELL and I have been sent the following Q&A which outlines the importance of cleaning up after pets. I thought  it was really interesting and wanted to share it with you all. The Q&A dispels common myths and if you are a pet owner, I definitely recommend giving it a good read!

What germs, bacteria and other nasties do dogs and cats most commonly bring in to the home?
Not all germs carried by household pets can impact humans however, there are a number that do. These can be transmitted through a bite, scratch or more commonly though contact with a pet’s saliva, dander (dead skin cells) or waste. For instance, bacterial infections like Campylobacter can be spread through animal faeces and can cause stomach pain and upset, Toxoplasmosis a parasitic infection that is often hosted in cat litter and can cause symptoms from fevers to a sore throat and rash, or the fungal skin infection ringworm which manifests as a red, ring shaped rash.
It’s really shocking to hear that recent research by BISSELL* revealed that a fifth of pet owners don’t wash their carpets especially as 25% admitted to regularly having to clean up urine, vomit and faeces. We’re a nation of animals lovers and enjoy having our pets around the home, however it’s crucial that if our pets make a mess we clean it thoroughly to avoid making family members poorly, especially small children who use the floor as their playground.

How are these germs, bacteria and other nasties transferred to humans? Are these things harmful to humans and our furry friends? 
Just as it is with humans, any form of animal contact such as scratches, licks, kisses and even cuddles can result in the spread of infection. Whilst most such as ringworm are mild,  in both humans and pets they can prove very serious in certain circumstances. 
The parasite Toxocara, for example, is commonly found in the intestines of kittens and puppies and can be spread through animal faeces. Although symptoms such as stomach pain and upset tend to be mild, it can lead to pneumonia and liver problems with blindness occurring in very severe cases – something many of us are warned about when young.

What sort of bacteria and nasties can live in pet mess, saliva etc, and what sort of health issues can humans suffer from if they come in to contact with it/ingest it? 
There are numerous infections ranging from bacterial to fungal and parasitic infections. These include Campylobacter, Salmonella, Giardiasis, Cryptosporidium, Toxoplasmosis, Toxocariasis and Ringworm. Symptoms can include flu like symptoms, skin rashes, badly behaving bowels and general malaise.

How should the cleaning routine of pet owners vs non-pet owners differ, in terms of what is cleaned, how frequently and how deeply? 
You can never be too clean but pet owners need to go above and beyond to ensure that soft furnishings as well as the floors don’t just look clean but actually are. Recent research by BISSELL revealed that one in ten pet owning Brits* never wash their sofa covers whilst one fifth never wash their carpets. With these being two of the most popular places for pets and family to relax, it’s important they aren’t forgotten during the weekly clean as it will help to tackle unsightly stains, offensive smells and at worst, eliminate the chance of ill health.

How can pet owners ensure nothing nasty is left behind when cleaning up pet mess like urine, vomit and faeces? 
Although an area may look clean it doesn’t mean that nasty bacteria aren’t lurking beneath the surface. It's not good enough to simply remove the sight and smell of a pet accident. To ensure bacteria and germs are removed you need to carry out a deep clean with a specialist product if you want to avoid the risk of you and your family becoming ill. If you have small children playing on the floor, parasites that live in pet faeces can come into contact with hands, mouths and eyes leading to nasty health implications for your little ones.

What sort of bacteria can lurk in the carpets/beds that pets regularly sleep on and what are the implications for humans if we come in to contact/ingest? 
We call the infections animals spread to humans Zoonosis. This may surprise you but bedding down with your four legged friend can cause infections as serious as the bubonic plague – but don’t panic, it's incredibly rare! MRSA, worms, bacteria which cause tummy bugs, viruses which can affect everything from your eye sight to your liver...the list is endless. So although you love your pet and want to spend time with them you really shouldn’t let them in your bed.

What has been your biggest ever pet disaster and what did you do?
My dog once weed all over a brand new pair of shoes whilst I was sat having lunch in a restaurant! I was absolutely mortified and had to sit through the rest of lunch with a pair of very soggy shoes!

How have your personal experiences of owning a dog affected the wellbeing of and the way that you look after your family? 
I caught a Gastro bug early on in my puppy career and since then I have become hugely mindful of safeguarding my family against cross infection. Our dog isn’t allowed upstairs and I am constantly on poo watch! I paid the price early on with contaminated sofas so she now has certain ‘no go’ zones in our home. I love my dog and she has a hugely positive influence on our family but I’m also aware that sometimes, they can carry infections which they can pass on to us so I take practical measures to safeguard my family against ill health.

What would you say to pet owners who might not think their pets could bring ‘nasties’ into their home or happily kiss and share their bed with them?
Pets shouldn’t be allowed in their owner’s bed and instead should have a comfy place of their own to sleep. Just as we humans carry germs, pets can too and inviting them to share your bed can put you at risk of anything from a bacteria or parasitic infection to a virus. If you suffer from allergies these too can be triggered or worsened by contact not just with pet hair but also with their saliva and waste. Of course as a nation of pet lovers many will happily share their bed and enjoy being greeted by a slobbery kiss. However, with that territory should come a realisation that pets are not sterile, and as cute as they are, they can be the potential source of ill health. So we should take as many precautions as necessary to maintain a deep and meaningful relationship with our pets without challenging our health.

If you suffer with pet allergies, how can you help reduce allergy symptoms? 
If you suffer from allergies it is essential to deep clean carpets, drapes, soft furnishings, and bedding unless you want to worsen your sneezing, wheezing or skin condition. This should be a regular household job. Pet hair, dust and dirt can all trigger reactions so it is essential to do this regularly. Remember, it's the stuff you can't see that gives rise to symptoms so looking clean just simply is not enough.
BISSELL are experts in floor care and have the products to solve your pet mess and stain disasters – small or large, smelly or unsightly, wet or dry. So, whether you need to clean up pet hair, a little accident or spilt food and drink, BISSELL has the answers. 

I hope you have found this Q&A as interesting as I did. If you can relate to any of the points outlined above, I would recommend checking out BISSELL for yourselves.


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