How to Fix Problems Caused by Pets, Critters and Pests

Wildlife sometimes finds its way inside, and even our beloved pets can make a big mess in the house. Learn how to clean up the damage and prevent it from happening again.

©Robert Felker

©Janet Allinger

©Janet Allinger

©Janet Allinger

©Ryan Snook

©Janet Allinger

Carpet Pet Stains

If you have a pet, and have carpet, it's inevitable that you will have a stain from said pet at some point. Liquid stains should be blotted up as soon as possible using paper towels or rags applied with gentle yet firm pressure. Try not to scrub or wipe initially. A shop vacuum could be used, but be prepared to replace the filter in the vacuum. Depending on the size of the stain, use a carpet shampoo and scrub brush, a powered wet-spot vacuum, or a scrub brush and a cleaner such as Greased Lightning or OxiClean. Several cleanings may be required. The point is to thoroughly clean the area, as the scent will not only be a nuisance, it can also trigger the pet, or a visiting pet, to go again in the same area.

Dog-Chewed Furniture

Your lab pup is adorable, but his cuteness waned when you discovered the splintered remains of his chewing on a table or chair leg. First, remove any wood that remains in his mouth to avoid an unpleasant trip to the vet later if he swallows it. Hold on to any large chunks and track down any pieces that could be scattered around the furniture (or any other part of the house). If saliva-soaked, clean and allow to dry. Now act like you're working on a puzzle — see if any of these parts are intact enough to fit where they have been chewed off. Apply glue to these and press in place. Use painter's or masking tape to hold them in place while the glue sets. Use wood filler to re-form and/or fill in any other areas, allow to set and then sand. Re-apply a matching finish. Try a deterrent spray and or obedience training to keep your pup from doing it again.

Critter Loose in the House

A squirrel loose in a house can reduce even the burliest of men to squeamish imps. But there is good reason to fear: such an animal can harbor various diseases, including rabies, and can cause quite a bit of damage while trying to hide or escape. First, create as many open access points to the outside as possible in the room where the critter is located, and close interior doors to the rest of your home. If it doesn't break for daylight immediately, don long sleeves and work gloves, grab an old thick blanket or towel, and do the “shoo shuffle” by using the blanket or towel to drive the varmint toward an exit. Trying to catch the critter to remove it should be your last resort, but sometimes is necessary.


The saying goes that there are three types of homes: those that have had termites, those that have termites and those that will have termites. When you discover them, you don't need to panic, but you do need to act. You are generally required to have a termite bond to sell a home, and hopefully you have a yearly inspection contract with a pest control company. Call them immediately and tell them you have discovered termites. Your contract most likely has a “retreat” clause, which means they will re-apply termiticide to the affected area. Don't try to clean up the termite-infested area until this professional has come — he or she will need to thoroughly inspect the area to determine from where the termites are coming and where treatment is needed. Your action is to eliminate the things that caused the termites to start feasting on your home, such as a leak or crack near your foundation, wood piles next to the house, or wood or vinyl siding that touches the ground.

Pests in the Backyard

Blood-sucking insects are the bane of outdoor barbecue lovers the world over. Sprays and lawn chemicals are effective, but these bugs can still make their way into your backyard sanctuary. To reduce the occurrence of mosquitoes you need to remove as much standing water as possible. Clogged gutters are often a hidden culprit, so make sure to keep those clean. Ivy also is notorious for harboring mosquitoes, so you may want to rethink your use of the vine. For small backyard ponds, water features, birdbaths and rain barrels, you can insert mosquito tablets, also called dunks. These include bacteria that are harmful to mosquitoes, but non-toxic to fish or birds. For a natural approach, try spraying lemon ammonia on bushes, shrubs and vines — hit that ivy well!

Critters in the Attic or Walls

The telltale scratching and scurrying overhead or in the walls means you've got a furry tenant. First, you need to try to identify where they're getting in and how they're getting out. Look for signs such as chew and claw marks, droppings or debris that seems out of place. A musky odor can also provide a clue. Try flushing them out by putting some sort of bait at one entry point, then closing up another and creating a ruckus that would drive them to the baited area. Once they're out, permanently seal up their access points. If you can't drive them out, get some traps appropriate for the animal and appropriate for how humane you care to be.

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