Vacuuming your pets Vacuum cleaners - not just for carpets and upholstery by James Abel, Carol A. Childress

An email from: James Abel
I have been subscribing to your newsletter for just a short time, and have enjoyed each issue - always something of interest.
In the most recent one you mentioned your attempt to vacuum your cat. We have two house rabbits. They have two complete shedding cycles per year, resulting in a tremendous amount of very fine, loose fur on their bodies, and all over our house as well.

A couple of years ago, we thought of trying to use our DustBuster on one of the rabbits. He generally tolerated it, mostly because it involved a great deal of petting as well! The general process is to either use a hand or a brush to pet the rabbit, following the motion with the DustBuster, picking up the fur as it is stirred up from the rabbit. We also use it directly on them as well, although that is not tolerated to quite the same degree, so we generally will alternate the two methods.
Our rabbits are still quite young (we started vacuuming the first one at about 1-2 years old), and are pretty well adjusted to the DustBuster. Now, when I am vacuuming their areas with the "real" vacuum, I will usually give them a few passes with one of the vacuum attachments - I consider it weekly maintenance. As long as I don't let the attachment get to close to their skin (just close enough to pick the fur up), they tolerate it in short doses, although the younger rabbit still has a habit of attacking the
vacuum cleaner...
Hopefully this may give you some ideas.
James Abel
An email from: Carol A. Childress

Dear Mercia,
The vacuum idea works great on dogs. I have been doing this for many years. It gets the loose hair and all the pollen and dirt down inside it. With the right attachment, you can brush and clean your dog all in one step.
Eureka used to make a special attachment just for this (sadly it's been discontinued). It was the round dusting brush with a detachable round comb instead of the brush. That is the only one that has ever really worked for me. All the ones you find in the pet supply places don't seem to seal very well and lose suction.
There is one listed at the Dirt Devil site which is also discontinued. I tried to get it last year, and the dummies will still not take it off their web site. You can get an idea of what mine looks like from this sketch.
Go to and scroll down to item Pet Groomer Brush 3-050284-701
Mine has somewhat longer and thinner teeth like a regular comb.
I wonder if this is something you could get one of your manufacturers to consider making? They always seem to think none of us with allergies would ever have a pet. I'm scared to death of losing or breaking this attachment. It's also really good for upholstery types where the brush doesn't work well.
I've used this on 2 dogs over the past 20 years. I'm not allergic to the animals, just to everything that gets caught in their fur. Both dogs came to love getting vacuumed, and begged for it. The first one was afraid, so I used some conditioning techniques.
First I left the vacuum out for about a week where she had to walk around it a lot. Then we wrapped it in heavy coats to muffle the sound (keep the exhaust area clear so not to overheat) and just ran it some while playing in the same room. Next we moved on to lighter jackets, etc. until she wasn't afraid of the sound anymore. I made a big production of vacuuming my hair and clothes over and over until she finally came close to see what I was up to. You have to just put the hose down on the floor and let them approach it a few times at their own pace. Gradually you can start taking a swipe over the backbone. Work up from there.
It is important not to get too close to the nose, ears, or below the tail. These seem to be the spots that scare them. Both of my dogs were able to work up to extensive 30-minute grooming sessions. If you do it regularly though, it only takes about 5 minutes a session to do a good job. Sure is easier to vacuum stuff off the dog rather than off the whole house later.
I now have to shut my current dog OUT when I clean the house, because she chases me and lies down in front of the vacuum with her feet up in the air wanting her tummy vacuumed. Sure would be nice if the cats felt that way!