Who doesn’t love a cute little cat or a devoted dog? Our pets bring so much happiness to the home but occasionally bring unwanted odors and stains as well. Get rid of the mess without getting rid of the pet with these tips.

Sometimes an old stain won't be visible but will still smell. If you can smell urine, but cannot locate the spot, use a black light. Turn off all lights, and search the area with a lamp with a black light bulb installed. The stained area will show up under the blacklight. Use a piece of yarn to mark the area so you can still find it when the regular lights are back on.

The first thing to do with a fresh spot is to blot and blot until you've removed as much urine as possible from the area. This can take lots and lots of paper towels or bath towels. Then immediately apply vinegar diluted half and a half with water. There's no way around it: this is going to take time. You need to really soak the area, then continue to blot. Layer paper towels, place newspapers on top, then stand on the area to soak up the moisture. Another good way to handle this much wetness is with a wet vac. Then you can feel free to apply as much vinegar and water as you think you'll need because the wet vac will help remove it from the carpet. You also want airflow in the room, because if the carpet is allowed to stay soggy, you're going to get a mold problem. Sprinkle the area with baking soda. Mark off the area with yarn so that family members know not to walk on it. Walking on a damp carpet will leave dirt and further the problem. Leave the soda on the area for at least a couple of hours, then vacuum.

If these common products don't solve the problem, consider using an enzymatic cleaner, available at pet stores. Make sure you have doused the area with enough clear water to remove the vinegar that you tried in step one, then follow the directions closely.

Professionally cleaning the carpet is another option. Tell the carpet cleaners you hire that there is a pet stain you are especially concerned about, and make sure it's clear where the stain is. Enquire whether they will be using a machine that uses heat or steam. Heat might cause the stain or the odor to "set," so these machines should be used only as a last resort.

The best way to deal with pet stains is to avoid them altogether. Be sure your pet has plenty of outdoor time, follow a trainer's tips for teaching your animal the appropriate places to relieve himself, and always keep fresh newspapers or litter on hand. Always have plenty of freshwaters available for your pet to drink, as urine and feces from a well-hydrated animal will not stain as badly. When prevention doesn't work, act quickly, use lots of water, and you should be able to remove the pet stains.