Just like us, our four-legged friends need a clean environment in order to live happy, healthy lives. Keeping our pet’s space clean helps keep disease and parasites at bay, and our furry pals are less likely to encounter injuries and potential dangers in a clutter-free area. It’s hard to imagine a dog or a cat thriving if they’re spending their time in a place where dust and parasites have gathered.
Our pets look to us to provide a clean and safe place for them to live, and with just a few extra steps in your normal cleaning routine, you can ensure they get it. We've listed the top areas you can maintain to keep your furry pals healthy.
Here are some things around the house that need to be cleaned on a regular basis to maintain your pet’s health:
Bedding. Your pet’s bed can collect fur, dander, and dirt, as well as become a breeding ground for fleas, ticks, mites, and bacteria. Keeping your dog’s or cat’s bed clean keeps their skin healthy, minimizes allergens, and prevents parasitic infestations. It is recommended to vacuum your pet’s bed weekly and wash it every other week, but don’t hesitate to throw it in the wash if your furry friend has been rolling in something outside or if you notice any odors. Regularly washing everything that comes into contact with the bed, such as your pet, blankets, and toys, helps keep it clean too.
Bowls. Public health and safety organization NSF International found that pet bowls are the fourth germiest item in the home, after sponges/dish rags, kitchen sinks, and toothbrush holders. Both food and water bowls can harbor bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, especially when the contents are often left out. These bacteria can cause illness in both people and pets, which is why it’s important to wash your pet’s dishes daily with hot soapy water or in a sanitizing dishwasher. Automatic water bowls should be inspected regularly as well, as mold or algae can grow on the filters.
Toys. Pet toys also made it onto NSF International’s list of germiest home items. Taking the seventh spot, they were found to have coliform bacteria, yeast, and mold on them. Since our four-legged friends use their mouths to play, cleaning their toys regularly is a no-brainer. Avoid using harsh chemicals and scented detergents as these can harm your furry pals; instead, look for a pet-safe cleaning product or whip up a natural solution of equal parts water and white vinegar. Make sure plush toys are completely dry before storing them or giving them to your pet to prevent mold.
Litter boxes. For our feline companions, having a clean litter box is essential to good health. Cats are hygienic little critters who will avoid stepping into a dirty litter box. If they decide to hold it in and urinate just once a day instead of two to three times a day, they are at risk of developing bladder and urinary tract issues. A dirty litter box can also become a hotspot for parasites such as Toxoplasma gondii, roundworms, and hookworms. Prevent litter box problems by scooping daily and replacing the litter regularly; how often you replace the litter depends on how many cats and litter boxes you have and what type of litter you use.
Other household items. Remember when you first brought your dog or cat home? You made sure to pet-proof your house before their big arrival. Now that a few years have passed since then, some clutter may have accumulated here and there. But what was a potential hazard back then is still a potential hazard today. Now would be a good time to check and do the following:
- Put small objects that can be easily swallowed such as jewelry, batteries, and coins out of reach.
- Don’t leave food on tables and countertops to discourage pets from counter surfing and eating something that could harm them.
- Always keep trash cans covered. Some dogs have a tendency to go through trash and consume things that may land them at the vet’s.
- Tuck away wires and cords. You don’t want your pets to nibble on plugged-in electric cords. Cats can also get tangled in blind cords.
- Keep a clean home. Both canines and felines can suffer from dust mite allergies. If your four-legged pal is allergic to these microscopic creatures, then vacuuming regularly can help ease their constant scratching and other symptoms.
A clean environment doesn’t just benefit pets—everyone, including two-legged residents, will feel better with having a tidier space!