AQUEOS - How to choose which disinfectant to use around dogs and puppies
Dogs and puppies are inquisitive by nature, and of course, can’t distinguish between what’s ok and what’s harmful! So, it’s our job to keep them safe. Naturally, having a dog or puppy comes with plenty of mud and fur (as well as endless joy of course!), so we need to be able to keep our homes clean too. If you own, or work in, a dog grooming parlour, disinfection becomes even more important. Let’s look at how to choose cleaning products safe for dogs.
Can cleaning products be harmful to dogs and puppies?
Yes, cleaning products can be harmful to dogs. Dogs, and puppies especially, often explore with their mouths. Since some cleaning products are scented, and can smell yummy, your dog may well have a lick. Some dogs will even drink from the toilet bowl! Even if the strong smell deters your dog, they may still walk where you’ve been cleaning and then lick their paws. Inhaling chemicals (when having a sniff to explore) can cause issues too.
If ingested, some cleaning products can cause sickness and diarrhoea or chemical burns within the food pipe and stomach. Cleaning products can also cause nasty chemical burns on our dog’s paws, skin, or eyes.
Common toxic cleaning products
There are some commonly used cleaning products that it’s safest to avoid using around dogs, such as bleach, or caustic oven or drain cleaners. Toxic ingredients to watch out for include:
-Bleach/chlorine (sodium hypochlorite)
-Ammonia (ammonium hydroxide)
-Formaldehyde (formalin, formic aldehyde, methanal, methylene, and quaternium-15)
-Phenol (butylated hydroxytoluene, benzenol, carbolic acid, phenolic acid, Bakelite, and alkylphenols)
In fact, most regular cleaning products can be harmful, with many stating on the label to keep pets and children away from the area until dry, or similar.
The level of toxicity will depend on the concentration (how much of the ingredient is in the product), how much your pet is exposed to, the size of your dog, and how they were exposed to it.
Symptoms of cleaning product toxicity
If your dog or puppy does get exposed to cleaning products (either by contact, inhalation, or ingestion), here are the symptoms to watch for:
- Sore patches of skin, especially on their paws, around their face or tongue
- Difficulty eating
- Pawing at their face
- Drooling or frothing at the mouth
- Tummy ache
- Lethargy (tiredness)
If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, call your vet straight away. If you suspect (or know) that they have had access to cleaning products, give as much detail to your vet as possible. It can be helpful to take the product with you so they can see the label.
Naturally, we all need to clean (especially when we have pets, or work as a groomer!), so it’s about doing so safely. Follow our top tips for keeping your dog safe below.
Top tips for protecting your pet
Whether you’re cleaning at home or your dog grooming parlour, here are our top 5 tips for keeping dogs safe around cleaning products:
1. Always store disinfectants and cleaning products well out of reach of pets
Even if your pet isn’t usually a chewer or scavenger, there’s a first time for everything! Always keep any cleaning products safely out of reach.
2. Use dog-safe disinfectant
The safest disinfectant to use around dogs would be one specifically designed with pets in mind. Look for a dog-safe disinfectant that is alcohol and bleach-free, with low % active ingredients and that is pH neutral (i.e. not acidic or alkaline solutions). Remember, even dog-safe cleaning products will need to be stored out of reach.
3. Always follow the instructions on the label
Some products will need to be diluted before use or rinsed off afterwards. The manufacturers may suggest a time period where you keep pets out of the room after use. Obviously, that is neither ideal nor practical in a grooming parlour, so look for some of the safest disinfectants for dogs where dogs don’t need to be kept out of the area after cleaning. These are non-irritant and non-corrosive. However, you must read the instructions to check and follow them accurately.
4. Tidy after yourself!
It’s safest to empty and rinse mop buckets after use so dogs can’t be tempted to have a drink or a lick. Similarly, always close the lid of the toilet after cleaning, as many dogs will try to drink from the toilet bowl!
Where possible, ventilate the room after disinfecting. Even if the products are safe, dogs have very sensitive noses and the strong smell of some cleaning products can irritate them.
Cleaning products can be harmful to dogs if ingested, inhaled, or on contact. How toxic they are depends on the ingredients, the amount your dog has contact with, and the size of your dog. It’s safest to choose cleaning products safe for pets, such as dog-safe disinfectants. Remember to always read and follow the instructions and keep any cleaning products well out of reach of dogs. If you have any concerns that your dog has come into contact with cleaning products, contact your vet for advice.
This article was written by Dr Sarah-Jane Molier BSc BVM&S MRCVS