A study of 2,000 adults who have a cat or dog revealed 22 per cent think nothing of sharing meals with their pet, and six per cent even have baths together.

While a staggering 97 per cent let their pet ‘kiss’ them, another 67 per cent allow theirs on the sofa, with 58 per cent admitting their pooch has its own spot.

Others let their pet walk mud through the house after going outside, cuddle up with their children and even lick the plates clean after meals.

As a result, 40 per cent believe their lives are less hygienic since they got a pet, with 42 per cent admitting their cat or dog ‘rules the household’.

And 43 per cent have given up on keeping their homes germ-free thanks to their pet, despite a fifth (17 per cent) worrying about the germs they bring in.

Nearly four in 10 (38 per cent) even believe their pets are messier than their children.

A spokesman for Vileda, which commissioned the research, said: “People are very close to their pets, which is natural and understandable.

“However, it’s interesting to see just how close people are with their pets, and how this means owners are overlooking some of the unhygienic and germ-filled behaviours.

“It’s true that there are some behaviours you can’t get away from – 36 per cent of pets track mud into the house for example, and 21 per cent will walk on the kitchen worktables – but there are easy, and quick hygienic ways of cleaning to stay on top of this.

“Just because you might not be able to see some dirt and germs doesn’t mean they aren’t there, so regular cleans are a must when you have pets – and making sure these cleans are quick and efficient means you’ll stay on top of it.”

The study also found those who let their cat or dog sleep in bed with them do so an average of four times a week, while 44 per cent admit this happens every night.

While 49 per cent have their pet at, or under, the dinner table with them so they can eat meals together.

Nearly six in 10 have tried to stop their pet doing ‘unhygienic’ things, but 28 per cent admit they can’t resist the looks they give them.

Instead, many have taken to cleaning their home more regularly, with the average owner spending 44 minutes a week simply cleaning up after their pet – on top of the usual household chores.

Hoovering, treating for fleas and mopping the floors to clean muddy footprints were found to be among the most common cleaning tasks.

And a dedicated 56 per cent have tried to wipe their cat or dog’s paws after they have been outside.

But the study, carried out via OnePoll, found 22 per cent feel embarrassed about their home and how unhygienic it may be due to their cat or dog.

And 29 per cent have even been told that their house has a ‘pet smell’, with 29 per cent even receiving comments from their postman.

TV’s Queen of Clean, Lynsey Crombie, worked with Vileda on the study and added: “Pets aren’t the tidiest of house guests: they leave a trail of fur in their wake, walk all over the counter tops, enjoy a good foot lick, and somehow manage to get mud everywhere.

“But pets are part of the family, and unsurprisingly 93 per cent of pet owners agree with me, so we have a tendency to just “put up with” these unhygienic habits.

“Even my own dog, Hetty, can be a little terror sometimes as I’m trying to keep my house clean, but I’ve worked out quick and easy hacks to combat this – especially when it comes to the infamous “dog smell”, which I’ve always worked hard to banish.

“Even something as simple as washing pet beds and bed linen more often and opening your windows for 10 minutes a day will help get rid of these nasty smells.

“We can’t often see the germs our pets bring in, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there, and so I’ve found a little every day will go a long way.”

Top 20 unhygienic things pet cats and dogs do:

1.           Sit on the sofa

2.           Sniff their owner

3.           Roll in the grass

4.           Sleep in their owner’s bed

5.           Kiss their owner/let their owner kiss them

6.           Vomit on the floor

7.           Walk mud around the house after a walk/being outside with dirty paws

8.           Bring in things from outside such as dirt etc.

9.           Lick their owner’s face

10.         Cuddle up with their owner’s children

11.         Leave dirty pet toys on the floor

12.         Bring dead animals into the house

13.         Lick the floor to find food

14.         Lick their owner’s feet

15.         Share their owner’s food

16.         Walk on the kitchen worktops

17.         Have a dirty food or water bowl in the house

18.         Dig holes

19.         Lick the plates clean

20.         Slobber/drool on their owner/furniture

Lynsey Crombie’s tips for a clean home with a pet

1.           Use washing up gloves to get pet hair out of carpets/furnishings

Pet hair often builds up on our stairs and sofas. A top tip to remove with ease and without having to get the vacuum out every time is to very simply dampen a kitchen/washing up glove (like the Marigold Extra Life kitchen gloves) with cold water and then rub all over the area.  The wet glove will gently lift fur, as the friction between the glove and the fabric creates a static energy which causes pet hair and other debris to stick.

2.           Keep a broom by your front door for post-muddy walks

Stop dirt coming in after muddy dog walks by keeping the Vileda DuActiva broom by the door. This will save you time scrubbing floors as you will be getting rid of the mud, dust and debris instantly. You can also use the broom on your hard floor and on your door mats, to stop the mud sneaking in on shoes.

3.           Choose steam power over cleaning chemicals to keep your pets safe

Using steam mops to clean hard floors, rather than harsh chemical-based products, is so much safer for your pets – and it’s also quicker! The Vileda Steam Mop, for instance, heats up in seconds and will leave you with a clean streak-free finish. However, do not steam over old pet stains on carpets as this will bond the stain and make it set into the carpet further. Instead use a mixture of cold water, white vinegar and washing up liquid to remove stains. This combination will also break down the odours and the vinegar smell will disperse quickly.

4.           Wash pet bowls daily

We often forget about it, but it’s really important to keep dog water and food bowls clean. Wash them daily just like the plates we use because if you leave them, they will get sticky and collect pet hair and potentially harbour bacteria and odours. Use the Vileda Dish Brush with the tiniest drop of washing up liquid and give them a daily scrub.

5.           Don’t leave messes for too long

For accidents, it’s so much easier to deal with them straight away. Keep specific cloths on hand to quickly wipe away the mess – such as the Marigold Let It Shine! Microfibre cloths, which have the added bonus of being machine washable, making it much better for the environment than disposable kitchen roll or paper towels. They also remove 99.9% bacteria with just water, so again there is no need for chemicals that could potentially be harmful for pets.[1] Keep them under the sink, separate from your washing up / food handling cloths, and just throw them straight in the machine when they need a wash.

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