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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Democrat-Gazette pet hair illustration. - Photo by Special to the Democrat-Gazette / DUSTY HIGGINS

I have two small dogs and one cat so I am always fighting pet hair in my house. I have hardwood floors and there always seem to be dust bunnies made of cat and dog hair floating around. Any suggestions on how to control pet hair are appreciated.

Every person living with pets no doubt feels your frustration, but take heart in knowing that it's possible to gain and maintain control over the pet-hair jungle. I speak from experience, having at one point in my life lived simultaneously with cats and dogs.

Successfully keeping the fur from flying, settling and gathering in clumps throughout a household is mostly a matter of vigilant vacuuming as well as establishing a pet-grooming regimen. Here are pet-hair control tips gleaned from personal experience as well as from MarthaStewart.com, Dogster.com and ConsumerReports.org.

VACUUM, VACUUM, VACUUM

Weekly, semiweekly or as-often-as-needed vacuum cleaning is one of the most powerful weapons in preventing pet-hair bunnies from clumping along the baseboards. It's especially helpful to have the right vacuum cleaner for the job. While there are many upright vacuums marketed as being effective for sucking up pet hair, hand-held and canister vacuums could be more suitable. Canister vacuums also are recommended as more practical for hardwood floors than uprights.

Seeing fur lurking in corners even after a vigorous vacuuming has a singularly dispiriting effect, so it's heartening to know canister vacuums are less likely than upright models to scatter dust and debris before sucking it into the machine. That means less dirt, dander and hair will elude you and frustrate your efforts. Canister and hand-held models have a variety of attachments and flexible tubing useful for vacuuming in corners, under furniture cushions and beneath furnishings.

When shopping for a vacuum cleaner, look for one with a brush on/off switch so that it can be used with carpet and hardwood or tile flooring. Make sure the vacuum has a high suction rating as well as a high-efficiency particulate air bag or filter. Vacuums that use bags for gathering dirt and debris are touted as best for hardwood floors, but some bagless models are just as effective. Do research and read reviews before you go shopping.

To keep floors free of fur between vacuumings, use a microfiber dry mop or dust mop. Keep spare mop cloths handy and try to do a quick sweep at least once a day.

WASH AND BRUSH

Dog owners will find that regular bathing (with gentle shampoo formulated for dogs) and daily brushing will reduce the amount of hair that their dogs will shed around the house. While bathing cats isn't typically recommended, they (and you) certainly benefit from brushing. With cats and dogs, brushing once or twice a week will remove a lot of loose hair as it is shed.

Short-haired dogs and cats shed just as much or more than their long-haired counterparts, so keeping them brushed can lessen the need for constant vacuuming. Deshedding tools such as the Furminator are particularly helpful, but soft-tipped brushes and combs are good for pets with short, medium or long hair. You also can get knobby hand mitts and specially formulated pet wipes to remove loose fur.

UNDER COVER

When it comes to keeping fur from clinging to furniture so that it's possible to sit down without getting covered in pet hair, nothing works 100 percent of the time. If you have furniture with upholstery that seems to attract hair, you'll have to vacuum it often or keep a sticky roller handy at all times.

My cats tended to stake out certain pieces of furniture or specific places on the sofa (like the back) so I covered those areas with cloths that I washed regularly. When I had visitors, I'd remove the "pet mats." These days, when my Chihuahua sits on the sofa with me, I either let her lounge on her own afghan or simply set her bed on the sofa next to me. Both options keep the hair off the furniture.

Hang in there. When it comes to dust bunnies, never give up and never surrender.

Family on 03/15/2017

Print Headline: Creature Feature

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