AQUEOS - Pet Hygiene Around the Home
Being a pet parent is one of life’s joys and a pet’s unconditional love is priceless. However, we all know that pets do make a mess! Not only this, but they can also carry diseases that can be passed to humans, called zoonoses. So, keeping your home clean and hygienic is important for more than just appearances: it’s important for both your health and theirs. In our hectic modern-day lives, this can feel like a chore… so here are our top tips for keeping your home hygienic with pets!
Keeping your pet healthy will reduce the risk of transmission of some zoonoses to you and your family. It’s really important to keep your pet up to date with their vaccinations. As an example, we vaccinate dogs against leptospirosis, which is a zoonosis and causes Weil’s disease in people. Regular worming and flea treatment is crucial too, since pets can transmit roundworms and tapeworms to people!
When thinking about hygiene around the home, it’s important to be aware that many household cleaners can be toxic to pets. It’s sensible to use pet-safe disinfectant products, to avoid this risk. Ensure all cleaning products are stored well out of reach of your pet.
It’s important to wash your hands regularly, especially after stroking, feeding, or cleaning up after your pet. Using pet-safe disinfectant wipes on collars and leads can help keep your hands germ free too. As tempting as those kisses can be, try not to let your pet lick your face! Whether your pet shares your sofa or bed with you is a personal choice, but if you do share then be sure to wash your covers regularly on a hot wash.
When pets eat and drink, they transfer bacteria from their saliva to their food or water bowl. So although their bowl may appear clean, there is actually a layer of bacteria developing, called a biofilm. This can be hazardous to your pet and any people handling the bowls.
Clean your dog’s food and water bowl daily with mild washing-up liquid or a pet-safe bowl cleaner. Make sure you rinse and dry thoroughly! It’s a good idea to wash, and store, pet bowls and utensils separately from your own.
The floor area around your pet’s feeding area can easily become contaminated with bacteria too. Pets love to spill food, water, and saliva! Regularly clean this area with pet-safe disinfectant.
Bedding and Toys
When choosing a pet bed, it’s useful to look for ones with removable covers. Covers should be washed regularly, ideally weekly, on a hot wash. Try to avoid strong-smelling laundry detergents, as these can be irritant to sensitive pet noses!
Hard toys should be washed with pet-safe disinfectant or mild washing-up liquid, rinsed thoroughly, and dried. It’s important to do this regularly, for your pet’s health. Soft toys can be washed with their bedding. Placing them in a pillowcase first can help prevent any damage to the toy. Always remove any damaged toys straight away, since they can lead to ingestion of parts, which can cause a blockage in your pet’s stomach or intestines.
Of course, toileting areas are one of the highest risks. Roundworms and tapeworms in pet feces can be passed to humans, as can zoonotic bacteria such as salmonella. Cats can also shed a parasite called toxoplasma in their feces. This causes a nasty flu-like illness in people and can cause serious complications for pregnant women.
Keep outdoor areas free from mess by poo-picking daily, or more often in areas where children play. Remember to always wash your hands afterwards!
Litter trays should be emptied and washed with pet-safe disinfectant or mild washing-up liquid. Cats are really sensitive to smells, so make sure you don’t use anything too strong-smelling. Strong smells may put your cat off, causing them to avoid using the litter box. Rinsing thoroughly and drying well are important final steps. Litter trays need to be picked out daily and washed thoroughly at least once a week.
Floors and Carpets
Now, how to deal with the endless pet hair. A good-quality vacuum cleaner with a pet filter is definitely your friend here! It’s important to vacuum at least once a week. Daily vacuuming is ideal, especially if anyone in the house has allergies or asthma. If you can regularly groom your pet, this will help keep the shedding to a minimum too. You can use pet-safe, odor-eliminating carpet shampoo to clean up any accidents. It’s important not to use anything ammonia-based, since this can make the patch smell like their toilet area and may actually encourage more accidents!
Keep hard floors clean with a pet-safe disinfectant solution, paying particular attention to areas around litter trays, feeding areas, and bedding. It’s important to keep your pets off the floor until it has dried for some disinfectants (check the label), since otherwise they may pick up cleaning solution on their paws, which they could then lick off. Even some pet-safe disinfectants can be irritating to their mouths.
It’s a good idea to keep a towel by the door for those muddy paws when they come in. This minimizes mud, germs, and even feces being tracked in on their paws.
Tips for Safe Cleaning
- Always use pet-safe cleaning products
- Avoid ammonia-based cleaners, which may encourage urine marking in that area
- Store all cleaning products well out of reach of your pets, to prevent ingestion
- Keep toilet lids closed after cleaning so your pet isn’t tempted to take a drink!
- Always keep pets out of the room while you clean and while the area dries
- Ensure adequate ventilation while you clean
- If your pet does come into contact with any cleaning products, call your veterinarian for advice straight away
- If you are pregnant you should avoid handling pet feces if at all possible, otherwise wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
Proper hygiene habits around the home will help protect you and your family from zoonoses, as well as helping to keep your pet healthy. Taking a “little and often” approach will make the process seem less daunting!
Sarah-Jane Molier MRCVS