Just flip the switch on your vacuum cleaner and watch your pet run for cover. Despite the fact that cats and dogs aren't fond of the common household appliance, having one is as crucial as chew toys and water bowls when you have an animal living in your home.

Without a vacuum cleaner, your family and possessions could soon be buried under a mountain of cat or dog hair. But can you ever get all that fur up? And if so, what will do the best job? There are a lot of brands out there that claim to be designed for pet-hair removal, but how do you know which ones live up to the claims -- and which ones will work best in your home?

A pet-hair-filled house can be a challenge for any vacuum cleaner, but not all floor cleaners are created equally. If you want one that's specifically geared toward a home with pets, look for the following: powerful suction, strong airflow and a vigorous roller brush. All of these functions aid in getting embedded hair out of carpet and upholstery. If you're a pet owner, you may find other features helpful, too. For example, you might want to opt for a bagless cleaner if you find that your vacuum bags are filling up with hair quickly. It's not something that affects cleaning power, but it could save you a little money.

If you're looking for information on specific brands and models, try consulting a product-testing organization like Good Housekeeping, ConsumerGuide or Consumer Reports. Pet-hair vacuum cleaners is one of the categories product testers evaluate. They do so by testing the ability of the cleaner to effectively suck up embedded pet hair that has been forcibly lodged into carpet. But if you'd like to take another look at the basic features and types of vacuum cleaners that can clean up after your canine and feline family members, keep reading to find out more.