Pets have long held an important place in our homes and hearts. So it's no wonder pet-friendly establishments are popping up everywhere. Today, customers bring their pets into offices, hotels, and even restaurants and grocery stores.
While this makes for an adorable experience, it also complicates the cleaning process for pet-friendly businesses. Even the most well-trained pets can have accidents, and their hair and dander can be difficult to control. (Not to mention the fact that cleaning up after exotic pets like reptiles comes with its own set of challenges!)
June 24 may be Take Your Dog to Work Day, but more and more offices are taking a page from cool Silicon Valley startups and allowing dogs at work year-round. Hotels are luring guests by advertising pet-friendly accommodations. Some restaurants are welcoming dogs on outdoor patios.
Keeping pet-friendly spaces safe and clean requires extra vigilance. The cleaning crew should handle accidents immediately, as dog feces can carry a variety of parasites like Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and worms. You should also vacuum up hair and dander, which can cause an allergic reaction in some people. A vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter works best on carpet, while hard floors benefit from an electrostatic cloth. Hotel owners should assume that pets have shared the bed during their stay and wash linens in hot water.
Though it happens less frequently than with dogs, cats are sometimes welcomed into pet-friendly office and hotel spaces as well. As with dogs, cat hair and dander should be removed from floors and furniture daily to alleviate allergies. Cat waste can carry toxoplasmosis, which can have severe consequences for pregnant women or anyone with a compromised immune system, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Litter pans should be scooped at least once a day, and the litter changed completely every ten days. As cats can transfer toxoplasmosis by walking on their litter and then jumping on counters, any food prep area should be thoroughly cleaned before use. Make sure any touch points that cats may have hopped up onto are cleaned with a folded, numbered microfiber towel that lets you ensure you're using an unsoiled towel surface for every area you clean.
While there's no official Bring Your Lizard to Work Day (yet), small exotic animals may be present in pet-friendly offices, schools, and hotels. While there is no fur or dander to control, these animals are infamous for carrying Salmonella and Shigella, which can be quite serious for young children. If the animal is allowed to roam free, all surfaces should be wiped down daily while wearing protective gloves. Cages require weekly cleaning and should not be washed in a sink where food may be prepared.
You should use extra caution when cleaning areas that pets frequent, but there's no reason your business or office shouldn't allow furry friends. With proper cleaning, it's possible to have the best of both worlds. For more information on pet-approved touch-free cleaning, click here.
Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.