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Stinky Never Smelled So Good

Small-mammal owners have several options for odor control
By Scott and Ann Springer

Giving baths can help combat small-pet smell, but products are plentiful.(Courtesy of The Bramton Co.)
No small-mammal owner has ever complained that his or her pet smells too good.

The pet market has been flooded with products to help pets smell as if they’re fresh out of the bath even when they haven’t been in the suds in weeks, says Angela Torrey, director of marketing communication for Dallas-based manufacturer The Bramton Co.

This trickles down to the small-pet market, too. Seventeen percent of small-mammal owners purchased odor-control products in 2006, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Assn.’s 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey.

Many manufacturers have taken products that have been successful in the cat and dog arena and adapted them to assist small-mammal owners.

“There are a lot of products on the market that can also apply to small mammals,” Torrey says.

This is good news for small-mammal owners who also own other animals. The APPMA study reports that 65 percent of small-mammal owners also have a dog and 58 percent have a cat. These owners can apply these products to multiple pets living within the walls of their home, Torrey says.

“There aren’t a lot of products that address the small-animal owners,” Torrey says. “However, a lot of manufacturers are starting to make products that fit in that niche.”

Clean From the Inside Out
Consumers at Paws and Friends in Belton, Mo., find many of these niche odor-control products along the three aisles of shelving the store has dedicated to small-mammal owners, says the shop’s manager, Josh Robertson.

“There are quite a few lines of products devoted just to small animals,” Robertson says.

Customers battling the odor-control beast may want to begin by looking at their litter, says Wendy Bartz, a buyer at Chuck & Don’s Pet Food Outlet in Mahtomedi, Minn.
 

Which Cleaners Are Green?

As the demand for environmentally friendly products continues to grow, so does the list of products on store shelves that claim to be green. But not all products are equally as kind to Mother Nature, says Angela Torrey, director of marketing communication for Dallas-based manufacturer The Bramton Co.

“There’s a lot of hype about all-natural ingredients, but nobody is able to define what all-natural really means,” Torrey says. “It poses a real challenge to consumers who must do their homework about these products.”

First, a retailer can determine if a product lives up to its label by looking at the packaging, says Wendy Bartz, a buyer at Chuck & Don’s Pet Food Outlet in Mahtomedi, Minn. Retailers can see if the container is recyclable and if it uses unnecessary packaging to display the product.

Next, retailers can turn the bottle of cleaner over to read the materials label, Bartz says.

“Look to see if they’re using natural ingredients instead of toxic materials,” she says. “Consumers want a natural product, not a chemical-based product, but they also want it to work.”

Looking for key words on an ingredients panel that imply plant-based cleansers, enzymes, bacteria or other naturally derived sources are all good indicators that the product is as green as it claims to be, Torrey says. She says to double check to be certain fragrances and preservatives are plant based as well.

“Most are synthetically derived,” she says.

Finally, retailers may want to find out where the product is manufactured.

“People are more aware of where things are being made since the pet food recalls,” Bartz says. “Many people are willing to pay the higher price to have a product that they perceive is better quality.”

“There are also nontoxic litter additives that can be sprinkled on or sprayed on to enhance the odor control of litters,” she says.

During litter changes, customers should use a deodorizing and disinfecting cage cleaner to eliminate odors and bacteria, Torrey says. All-natural cage cleaners that are also nontoxic can be applied while the pocket pet is still inside the cage, Robertson says.

When hamsters or gerbils come out of their cages for playtime, they may have accidents on pet owners’ floors. These types of stains can easily be removed with a bacterial and enzymatic solution that removes the stain and its scent, Torrey says.

Nontoxic gels, all-natural volcanic rock and other air fresheners can be placed near a trouble area, such as a cage, to absorb pet odors without owners needing to apply any elbow grease.

Enzyme-based odor-eliminating candles and sprays can also be a method of attacking and neutralizing malodorous pet smells, says Erik Saunders, general manager for Specialty Pet Products, a Charlotte, N.C.-based manufacturer.

Car fresheners allow small-mammal owners to take their pets on the road and not worry about their less-than-attractive aroma tagging along on the trip.

“You could also put them by cages or in other areas of the home,” Saunders says.

While keeping the cage area clean and tidy is a good place to start, it may not solve the problem entirely.

“In general, the bad odor comes from the pets themselves and not from their environment,” Torrey says.

Many small mammals aren’t crazy about getting wet so bathing may be tricky, Torrey says. She recommends using tearless shampoo to prevent eye irritation or bath wipes to give them that freshly bathed smell.

Specialty shampoos are on the market for all types of pocket pals. Robertson recommends that customers bathe their ferrets at least twice a month, while bunnies and guinea pigs can get suds every other month or as needed.

Deodorant or cologne sprays may be the only way to fully rid pets of their less-than-desirable natural scents, Torrey says.

Small-Mammal Showcase
In a typical retail store, small-mammal cleaning products are displayed side by side with cat and dog cleaning products, but Torrey says it’s important for the small-mammal market to showcase these products.

Small-mammal owners “take pride that they have a small mammal and they want to buy specialized products specifically made for their pets,” Torrey says.

Robertson uses the power of suggestion at the register by recommending specific odor-control products to small-mammal owners in his shop.

“We’ll say, ‘Since you have this item, you may be interested in this other item we carry,’” he says. “Or, ‘If you encounter this problem then we have this over here.’”

The sales associate is the No. 1 person pet owners go to for information, Torrey says.

“They are supposed to be the experts when consumers go to them with their problems,” she says. “They are responsible for giving them the appropriate products to resolve that problem for them.” <HOME>


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Stinky Never Smelled So Good

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