Get Rid of Cat Dog Urine Smells and Stains | Chem-Dry
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Get Rid of Cat Dog Urine Smells and Stains

If you’ve ever wondered how to get rid of cat urine smells in your home or how to remove dog urine from carpet, then you’re not alone—not by a long shot. Here at Chem-Dry, we have thousands of people ask us the same questions every year. To try to help solve this problem, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to removing unpleasant pet urine odors and stains. If you’re already prepared to dive in and get the mess cleaned up, though, we’ve got you covered. Just select one of the options below to let us know whether you’re looking for a cleaning solution so you can clean up a smaller mess yourself or whether it’s a bigger situation that requires some professional care.

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Step #1: Diagnose the Problem

If not treated properly, the odor from pet accidents can travel through the entire home and impact your health and your happiness. The smell emitted from an accident area also often leads to repeat incidents in the same area until it is properly eliminated.

The first thing to do when determining how to get dog pee smell out of carpet (or cat pee smell—we don’t discriminate!) is to locate the source of the smell. Once you’ve found the stained area(s) ask yourself the following questions:

  • How long has the stain or odor been there?
  • Is it still wet, or has the stain set in?
  • What type of material is the stained surface made of?
  • Carpet?
  • Upholstery?
  • Wood?
  • How large is the area that needs to be treated?
  • Have you verified that this is the only problem area?

Of course, most of these questions only work under the assumption that you know where the odor is coming from. If you cannot find the source of the urine smell, then your best option is to contact a professional cleaning technician. At Chem-Dry, we use black lights to quickly find any areas in your home that need to be treated.

The Science Behind Black Lights and Urine

How exactly does a black light help us to find the problem area? Urine—and cat urine more than most—contains a substance called phosphorus. When it’s in the presence of oxygen, phosphorus will glow a yellowish green. The phosphorus absorbs energy and releases it in the form of visible light. (This is true whether it is under a black light or not.) Usually, this glow is rather dim, but a black light provides additional energy, which makes the light much brighter and easier to see. Under a black light, any areas that have been exposed to urine will glow.

Step #2: Remove the stain or odor

Once you’ve located all the areas that need to be cleaned, it’s time to get rid of the stain or odor. Pet urine leaves an unsightly blemish on your carpet, often accompanied by an unpleasant odor, but it doesn’t stop there. It penetrates the fibers and contaminates, not only the carpet, but the floor underneath, as illustrated in this diagram:

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Because of this, some carpet stains can require specialized cleaning, well beyond just a simple cleaning and treatment. As time passes without treating the affected area, the urine penetrates deeper into the floors, into the walls, and eventually, even into your home’s framework and foundation. As your pet’s urine dries, the liquid portion of the stain evaporates, but the remaining crystals become even more concentrated, leading to a stronger smell. To remove this odor, you’ll need something a step beyond just a simple cleaning.

TIPS: A Few Words of Warning Before You Begin

When you are removing a pet stain, there are some practices you should avoid. Here are a few tips to help you to avoid making the situation even worse:

TIP #1: Don’t use a steam cleaner.

While a steam cleaner might seem like the just the tool to administer a deep clean for a stubborn stain, it’s quite the opposite. When you use a steam cleaner on a pet stain, the heat can actually make the stain even more difficult, or even impossible, to remove.

Just as the name suggests, steam cleaners use extremely hot water as they clean. The heat from the steam cleaner can actually cause the stain and odor to set, making them essentially permanent.

TIP #2: Avoid using strong-smelling chemicals—especially ammonia.

When you are cleaning up a pet’s accident, be very careful about which products you use. Strong-smelling cleaners—particularly ammonia and vinegar—can turn a single accident into a recurring problem.

When pet urine degrades, bacteria break it down into uric acid, uric salts, and several other components. Eventually, it converts into ammonia. Your pets are creatures of habit, and they often mark a specific spot in which to do their business. To your pets, the smell of ammonia is basically a signal to reinforce that scent, so using ammonia is basically an invitation for them to mark the exact same spot.

TIP #3: Stay away from enzyme-based products

If you take a look at Chem-Dry’s competitors, you’ll notice that most of them use some sort of enzyme-based product to remove pet urine odors, most of which are virtually identical to the same products you can buy over the counter.

There are a few problems with enzyme-based products, though. In order for an enzyme product to be effective, it needs to stay in contact with the source for several hours. Not just stay in contact but also stay wet in order for the enzymes to be effective. This requires some constant watching and frequent re-application. Enzymes are also fragile and can be killed easily, so even after leaving the cleaner on the stain for hours, it may not have any noticeable effect.

Initial Cleanup

When you notice your pet has had an accident on your carpet or floor, the very first step to take is to gather paper towels and blot. Try to soak up as much of the urine as possible to keep the stain from spreading and soaking in further. Not only will this help you to keep the area that needs to be treated small, but it will make it easier for the odor remover to do its job later.

Once you have cleaned up the initial mess, take a closer look and identify just how big the problem area that will require deeper cleaning is.

For Smaller Areas and Recent Stains

If the mess is small and hasn’t had the chance to set too deeply, we recommend using our Pet Odor Extinguisher. This is a small piece of the same process our technicians use when they come to perform a larger-scale cleaning. It is designed to lift fresh odors from your carpet and neutralize them without the use of harsh solvents or bleaches that could damage your carpet or leave dirt-attracting residues. It’s also safe to use around pets and children.

For Large Stains, or Particularly Pungent Odors

If the stain covers a wide area, has had time to set in, or smells particularly strong, you should consult with one of Chem-Dry’s professional technicians. Once the urine has been given a chance to soak into the carpet, it can go deeper, permeating the padding and backing, or even into the sub floor. There’s only so much that you can do with a spot clean, and Chem-Dry’s professionals are trained to do more than just remove the urine from the face of the carpet. Chem-Dry has been doing this for a long time, and our technicians know very well how to get urine smell out of carpet. They can go deeper and eliminate the bacteria that produce the odors.

When our technicians arrive, they will use special UV glasses and black lights to make sure that they don’t miss any spots that may not be visible to the naked eye. It can take up to five years for dog or cat urine to decompose on their own, but our Pet Urine Removal Treatment (P.U.R.T.) accelerates the process and completes it in a fraction of that time, reducing what would take years to a matter of hours. Our P.U.R.T. process has been tested and proven to remove 99.2% of bacteria from pet urine in carpets, as well as 99.9% of pet urine odors from carpets.

The P.U.R.T. Process

Once our technician has identified the stain and located any hidden spots that house odor-producing urine deposits, he will begin with a deep rinse. Our patented Hot Carbonating Extraction process will penetrate deep into the carpet and remove the liquid, as well as any loose urine crystals that may have formed as the accident has begun to evaporate. After completing the initial rinse, the technician will apply our P.U.R.T. odor removal product. This will go deep into your carpet’s fibers, the pad below, and even the floor underneath, providing a thorough cleaning in areas that most products and processes cannot reach.

As it dries over the next 24 to 36 hours, the P.U.R.T. solution will break down the substances that are actually causing the odors. Once each area has dried completely, the odor will be gone—and it won’t come back.

Compare Our Services

Pet Odor Extinguisher

Professional Cleaning

Ideal for: Small, recent stains and odors Large areas, potent odors and dried stains
Kid safe

Pet safe

Removes odor

Treats stain

No harsh solvents/bleaches

Safe for all carpet types

Hot Carbonating Extraction pre-treatment X

Removes 99.9% of odors, even deep within the carpet padding X

Removes 99.2% of bacteria X

Identifies other problem areas in the home X

Green Certified

Removes old, set-in stains X

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Step #3: Post-Treatment—Everyday Preventative Measures

Once the stain has been cleaned and the odor has been removed, how do you make sure that it doesn’t happen again? After all, as much as we love our dogs and cats, one of the things people off love most about their pets is how unpredictable they can be. Unfortunately, that also means you need to be prepared for just about anything. To help you out, we’ve compiled a few tips to keep in mind to minimize the damage and likelihood of another incident.

Urine Odor Reduction

If your pet’s urine is particularly pungent, there are a few things to consider. In order to cut down on the smell, you might want to try reducing the amount of food you give your pet. At the same time, give him more fresh water to drink. The pungency may come from him being being dehydrated, leading to his urine being more concentrated.

Particularly during the warmer months, set out a bowl of ice cubes alongside your pet’s water bowl. This will provide additional hydration to make sure that he is getting plenty of fluids throughout the day.

If your pet continues to have strong-smelling urine, you should consult your veterinarian. Strong-smelling urine can be a symptom of a bladder infection or other medical condition, which you should have treated as soon as possible to keep your pet healthy and happy. Your vet can give you additional recommendations on how to make sure everything is going well.

Accident Prevention

They say that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and that’s certainly the case with pet accidents. While it’s nice to know that there are ways to remove pet stains and odors, it’s even better if they never happen at all.

As we mentioned before, avoid cleaning products that contain ammonia. While it is a powerful cleaner, ammonia is also one of the components of your pet’s urine. When you clean an area with ammonia, the smell is essentially an invitation to your pet to urinate in that spot.

Once the mess is cleaned up, you want to deter your pet from returning to that spot for a repeat of the accident. Pets strongly dislike eating in the same place they relieve themselves, so place small bowls of food in the affected area. If your pet begins to associate that area with food, she will be less likely to consider it an option for where to urinate.

Do whatever you can to make the problem area unattractive or inconvenient for your pet while making the appropriate bathroom area as attractive as possible. If it is difficult for your pet to reach the problem spot, or the spot becomes unappealing as a bathroom area, your pet will likely change her habits.

If your pet is having frequent accidents, check with your veterinarian to make sure that there isn’t an underlying medical issue. Accidents can be an indication that there is something wrong, especially if your dog or cat has no previous history of accidents.

The key to preventing pet accidents is to figure out exactly what is causing them. Why is your pet relieving himself in the wrong space? Is there something deterring them from using the spot you would prefer they use for a bathroom? Once you have determined your pet’s motivation, it becomes significantly easier to fix the problem.

What if the problem continues?

If, after all your effort, the problem persists, then you may need to look deeper into what may be causing the trouble. There could be a health issue, or there could be some outside factor that is causing your pet distress.

About different pets:

Remember that dogs and cats are different. While both types of animal can be a beloved part of the same household, they are physiologically different creatures. Because of that, there are some specifics to keep in mind when working with one or the other.

Cats

If your cat unexpectedly starts peeing on the carpet and not making it to the litter box, it could be an indication of a medical issue, an emotional issue, or a simpler practical matter.

There are several medical reasons your cat might be relieving himself away from the litter box. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common in cats, and make it painful for your pet to urinate. One of the only ways your cat has of communicating to you that something is wrong is, in fact, peeing somewhere other than the litter box.

Other possible issues are kidney infections, cystitis, or even pain. If your cat has arthritis or other joint pain, it may be too painful for them to reach the litter box, and they will find another spot on their own. Solving the issue may be as simple as moving the litter box to a more convenient location.

If your cat is unusually thirsty and often runs to the litter box without quite making it, diabetes might be an issue. If you notice these symptoms, get him checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible, as it can be deadly if left untreated.

Emotional issues can also cause your cat to change his urinating habits. If there have been any big changes in your household—moving to another home, adding another pet, or bringing home a new baby—the cat may feel threatened and act out. If you have multiple pets, there may also be a territorial dispute. Consider getting an additional litter box if you have more than one cat.

Cats like privacy, so keep the litter box away from open, busy areas. Make sure that the box is big enough for your cat and doesn’t feel too cramped. Don’t put the box near the cat’s food, and make sure the box is cleaned every day. A cat’s sense of smell is stronger than a human’s, and if the area is too dirty, the cat will go somewhere else to relieve itself.

Dogs

At the end of the day, you don’t want to be trying to figure out how to get dog urine out of carpet. You want to know how to prevent your dog from making a mess in the first place.

Dogs like routines, and they will often get used to relieving themselves at specific times during the day. If there is a sudden change in your schedule, it may be difficult for your dog to cope with it. If possible, make these changes slowly, over time, to give your dog time to adjust.

A change in your family can also cause your dog some distress that can lead to accidents, whether that is adding or removing a person. A child going off to college can have just as big of an impact as bringing home a new baby. Just like people, dogs develop attachment to specific individuals, and a death or a divorce can have an effect on his emotional health.

When they are overly excited, fearful, or stressed, some dogs will leak small amounts of urine—something called “submissive urination.” This happens most often when the dog is greeting a person. It’s more common in puppies, but it can happen in some adult dogs, as well.

Sometimes, medications you are giving your dog can have an effect on where and how often your dog needs to urinate. Talk to your veterinarian about any medicines you are giving your dog to check on any potential side effects.

Other health problems can impact dogs, such as infections, tumors, diabetes, or even spinal cord injuries. Pay attention to your dog for any strange behavior and let your veterinarian know of anything unusual.

Remember, every pet is different. Each one has his or her own personalities and habits, so pay attention and be on the lookout for any changes in behavior patterns. For additional information specific to the type or breed of pet you have, consult your veterinarian. To learn more about how to remove pet urine and unpleasant odors from carpet fibers, contact your local Chem-Dry below:

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*Based on studies conducted by independent laboratories of Chem-Dry’s HCE (Hot Carbonating Extraction), P.U.R.T. (Pet Urine Removal Treatment), Granite Countertop Renewal, and Tile, Stone & Grout cleaning processes. Allergens tested were dog and cat dander and dust mite allergen. Pet odor results based on testing with the most common odor sources found in dog and cat urine. Pet urine bacteria results based on Chem-Dry’s HCE cleaning process and a sanitizer, combined with P.U.R.T. All bacteria results include use of sanitizer. Figures are an average across multiple tests.