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A veterinary clinic can be an awfully smelly place.
The cause of the unpleasantness ranges from “accidents” by incontinent or unhousebroken animals to odors from relieving anal sacs and male cat spray to your everyday kennel and laundry room stench.
“A person working in an area contaminated with a malodor can become completely oblivious to it,” said Michael McGuire, president of Thornell Corp. of Smithville, Mo., which makes odor eliminators for veterinary clinics throughout the U.S. and Canada. “Yet the odor could be highly offensive to someone just entering the area.”
Clients are especially sensitive. They worry about germs and infectious disease, and their trust may falter if floors, walls, countertops and cages aren’t kept sparkling clean and fresh-smelling.
“Ideally, it is best to control the odor at its source before it becomes airborne,” McGuire says. “This process is easier when you can simply add an odor elimination product to your standard cleaning solution. However, it may become necessary to treat or freshen the air as well as eliminate the source.
“Humans especially don’t like odors containing sulfur or nitrogen molecules.”
Odor sources include:
• Mercaptans: skunk, second-level urine degradation, anal sacs.
• Amines: ammonia from first-level urine degradation and cadaverine from decaying flesh.
• Indoles and skatoles: fecal matter.
• Hormones: anal sacs, body odor, male cat spray.
Odor control products often use absorption, bonding (chemisorption) and counteraction to eliminate, not mask, odors of all kinds.
Because pet owners trust their veterinarians for their animals’ health care, some vets sell odor removal products. Rather than relying on discount store products, many clients take their practitioner’s recommendations.
“It is important that the stain and odor eliminator the doctor recommends really works,” McGuire says.
Bio-Pro Research LLC of Sarasota, Fla., makes Urine-Off in dog, cat and equine formulas.
“Even if the area is cleaned regularly, urine odors and stains persist because of the complex nature of urine itself,” says William Hadley, Bio-Pro’s chief executive officer.
“Most cheaning chemicals, including chlorine, will not remove the problem-causing components of urine,” he says. “You need a specifically designed bio-enzymatic product to deal with the uric acid salts left when urine dries.”
Veterinary offices throughout the U.S. are using Urine-Off in clinics and selling it to clients.”
Paramount Chemical Specialties Inc. of Redmond, Wash., offers two choices for cat and dog odor and stain removal. Its American Kennel Club and Cat Fanciers’ Association Stain & Odor Remover contains enzymes that penetrate any water-safe surface to eliminate the worst odors.
Packaged primarily for the veterinarians’ retail side, this product enzymatically eliminates stains and odors from urine, feces, vomit and other body fluids on various surfaces in the home. These pH-neutral, biodegradable, non-toxic formulas may be used on carpets, upholstery and mattresses.
It is best to control the odor at its source before it becomes airborne.
John Latta, Paramount’s president, says his products are pet- and child-safe, milder than soap and water, and are sold exclusively in pet stores and veterinary offices.
Chris Quinlan, president of Health Technology Professional Products of Riverside, Calif., says his company’s veterinary hospital products offer economical metered dispensing of cleaning and disinfecting agents. Labels help create an OSHA-compliant work environment.
“In some states, fines are substantial for not having containers properly identified,” Quinlan says. “Writing on a plastic bottle with a marker is not compliant.”
Quinlan says clinics that use bleach as a primary cleaner and disinfectant may not eliminate the odor source because bleach is unstable.
“The chlorine content vaporizes and is no longer effective,” he says. “Depleted bleach is not killing germs and not controlling odors.”
Organic matter can penetrate porous surfaces and cause odor as it decays. Quinlan says products made of bacteria, including his company’s Eliminator odor digester, eat odor-causing matter such as feces, urine and vomit. The products are used not only on clothing, concrete, cinder block and “skunked” dogs but in drains as well.
Anivac Corp. of Burlington, Ontario, offers products for cleaning animals and the facility.
Dave Hachey, president of Anivac, says one system uses water, pressurized oxygenated cleansing fluid, a comb-like nozzle and a vacuum to wash and remove liquids, dirt and debris from animal skin and fur. Veterinarians in the U.S. and Canada use this product not only for pre- and post-surgery cleaning but for cleaning floors, walls, pens, runs and cages.
To bathe an average-sized dog, the Anivac system uses a couple of liters of water, compared to 20 or more liters of water a minute through a hose.
When the system is used on cages and floors, the need for mops and buckets is gone.
“The idea behind Anivac is that veterinarians are provided with a one-stop cleaning system,” Hachey says.
Paul Bryant, DVM, of Okeechobee Veterinary Hospital in Okeechobee, Fla., has found that keeping a bottle of Febreeze handy can deal with unpleasant odors in exam rooms.
“Like all veterinarians, we do a lot of emergency and after-hours work,” Dr. Bryant says. “Sometimes our clients smell worse than their animals.”
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