Posted 30th May 2017
We sit down with Bissell's Dr Pixie McKenna, who tells us exactly why we should be cleaning up after our pets, the most unhygienic thing you could unwittingly be doing, and what to do should your carpet get infected
What are the biggest risks of not cleaning up after your pet?
We’re a nation of animal 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.
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.
What will be the most unhygienic thing pet owners unwittingly do?
Less than half of pets sleep in their own bed with women being the most likely to invite their dog or cat to share theirs*. Pets 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, 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.
What would you recommend doing if your carpet gets infected?
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.
*Survey of 1,500 UK dog and cat owners by GingerComms