Ready to give your home a “clean sweep?” When spring cleaning fever hits, let’s be sure to tend to and tidy up our pets’ household products as well (because that loved-on chew toy can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria!). Here’s the, er, dirt on how to get your house, humans and animals ready for spring.
Collars & Leashes
After a big doggie bath, don’t ruin your good work with a dirty collar! Dirt and grime can easily latch onto the material and hardware of a pet collar and leash, causing them to be unsanitary and carry an odor at times.
One dog whisperer recommends adding a few squirts of dog shampoo to a bowl filled with warm water. Soak the collar and/or leash for 15 minutes, then rub it against itself to get rid of ground-in dirt. If it’s not quite clean, add extra shampoo directly. Avoid using brushes since they might harm the material. Rinse and hang to dry.
Crates, Carriers & Cozy Beds
If using crates, carriers and pet beds on a regular basis, clean them once a week, devoting a deep scrub during your spring cleaning. From dirt to dander to fur (and sometimes feces), pets can leave a lot behind in these cozy places.
Dr. René Carlson, former president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), suggests
using warm soapy water to scrub carriers since many “disinfectant solutions contain some ingredients that can either be toxic or leave fumes that are very irritating to animals’ sensitive respiratory membranes.” Wash as you would a car from top to bottom, inside and out, and ensure the crate is thoroughly dry. If a disinfectant is needed, rinse it extra well and air the crate or carrier out outside so any fumes dissipate. For pet beds, you’ll want one with a removable cover so you can easily wash it once a week in the washing machine with cold water and mild laundry detergent with no dyes or fragrances. Go ahead and toss some of those dirty pet toys in with the load!
Food & Meds
What’s the expiration date on those treats at the back of the shelf? Fully stocked on shampoo, flea and tick treatment? Are all pet medications up to date? Have those food bowls taken a ride in the dishwasher recently? The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) found
pet bowls to be the fourth most germ-filled place in the home!
Out with the old and in with the new! Just like our own pantries and medicine cabinets, take stock and clear out any old pet items. Restock on the supplies you need to keep your pets looking their best and staying healthy. And don’t forget to wash dog and cat bowls thoroughly. These can carry bacteria and should ideally be washed daily like you would with your dirty dishes. For a deep clean, put them in the dishwasher (on the highest heat setting) or wash with soap and very hot water.
Lawn & Garden
No one likes pesky insects, which damage flowers and vegetable gardens, but beware: not all pesticides are pet friendly. Some can be lethal or cause health problems for animals. The same is true with fertilizer being used for greener grass or gardens. While a lush garden is lovely, Pet Well Being
shares that 700 different varieties of plants and flowers are poisonous to dogs and cats, including Lilies, Tulips, Daffodils and Morning Glory’s. Before deciding what to plant, research to see which ones are toxic.
Consider installing an Outdoor Shields Plus Avoidance Solution around your garden and plant areas, which will keep pets out of harm’s way and out of that flower bed you worked so hard on. Learn more here
Sparkle & Shine
Many household cleaning products include unfamiliar ingredients, which can be toxic to pets when a small amount is ingested or inhaled. The veterinary experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center
warn that some cleaning products contain poisonous chemicals and even animal carcinogens. Ingredients to watch out for include ammonia, phthalates, chlorine, phenols and alcohol. For cat owners, avoid any products containing essential oils, as some can be irritating or even toxic to cats. If traditional cleaning products are needed, dilute when possible and keep pets away until the area is dry and aired out. Store all cleaning supplies out of reach of curious pets.
There are many brands made specifically to be gentle and use safe ingredients. These can often be found in the same shopping aisle as other cleaning products. Baking soda is non-toxic; It not only freshens a litter box but can also be mixed with water to scrub food and water bowls, sinks and other non-porous surfaces. Another safe cleaning solution is to combine half a cup of white vinegar and one gallon of water, then use in a spray bottle to clean non-porous pet toys, carpet stains and more.