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Best hygiene tips for dogs

australian husky making a huge mess with knocked over old food

Let's face the facts. While having a dog is often a blessing for us, they are quite messy! And, when you have dogs and children, keeping a clean home is a full time chore. Let's talk about some helpful tips for keeping proper hygiene for your dog.

Clean Up After Your Pet

I really hope that I don't have to tell you this but your dog is essentially a pee and poop machine. Food and water go in, and pee and poop comes out. If your dog messes in the house, it's important that you clean it up in a timely fashion. For one, it stinks and if you have small children running around, they have a bad habit of picking up fresh dog poop and playing with them. I assure you that you do not want to clean dog poop off your walls because your three year old grabbed a fresh pile and smeared it everywhere. Please, just trust me on this one... you do not want to end up doing this.

In the house, you should use a cleaner designed to destroy pet odors so that your dog doesn't return to the scene of the crime. Personally, I love Angry Orange. It's amazing, safe for kids and pets, and it freaking works. Also, I should mention the kid smearing poop on the wall isn't nearly as bad as your roomba running through it and completely smearing it into every square foot of carpet in your home.

Wash Your Pet's Bedding

Your dog's bedding can trap and harbor odors, dirt, grime, and hair and ultimately get filthy. However, they can also be a breeding ground for flea and tick eggs to grow and hatch which then catch a free ride on your poor unsuspecting doggo. Check your dog's bedding for specific instructions. If you can, wash it with hot water and detergent that won't irritate your dog. This will help to kill any nasties hiding in the bedding and leave it with a nice clean fresh smell.

Of course, your dog may turn their nose up at it for a while but that's okay too since it smells funny to them. And, if your dog's bed has seen far better days, it might be time to toss that nasty thing in the trash can and get your doggo a new one. Trust me...they'll thank you later. Amazon has a wide variety of options to choose from. My dogs like ones like ASPCA Microtech Striped Dog Bed Cuddler, 28 by 20 by 8-Inch with the walls around it.

Wash Your Hands

This tip goes especially for younger kids who like to play in their mouths. Get into the habit of washing your hands after you've spent a time playing with your dog. Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of disease, so if nothing else especially after you clean up after them. As adults, we might not usually play in our mouths after we've picked up dog poop, but kids don't think like that. And, if we get into the habit of doing so, it will be easier to teach kids to do so because monkey see, monkey do. Right?

Store Your Dog's Food Correctly

Dry dog food to a lesser degree, but especially wet dog food can become a breeding ground for bacteria infection. If you're opting to use wet or canned dog food and will have some left over, it should be treated the same as you would people food. Put it in a sealed container and stick it in the fridge. This helps prevent the growth of germs.

For dry dog food, you should store it in a sealed container or in the original packaging with the top folded closed. Keep dog food out of the reach of children — remember the part about children putting their fingers into their mouths? Always use a dedicated food scoop — not your dog's food dish — to scoop food. The Center for Disease Control has a lovely article about storing pet food correctly.

Clean Your Dog's Food and Water Bowls

Would you eat out of a nasty bowl that has had who knows how much food in it which has been allowed to sit for who knows how long? No? Then, why would you make your dog eat out of a nasty bowl that's got mold and other nasty stuff growing in it? Food and water are the perfect areas for bacteria and mold to grow which is not healthy for your pet or anyone else living in your house. Either wash them by hand or run them through the dishwasher, but seriously clean them! Sources vary about how often you should do this, I usually try to run my pets' dishes through the dishwasher once a month or so.

If you have a self-filling water bowl (a water bowl with a supply either from a hose or a tank) while these are incredibly convenient for you, they can become a hotbed of mold activity. Which is definitely not healthy for your dogs to eating. If it has a filter attached, you should be cleaning it out daily — no seriously, it can get that gunky. My dogs have two Easy-Clean Water Bowl Water Bow Stainless Steel Hose outside which are connected directly to the spigot on the house. We absolutely love them because they're easy to use, easy to clean, and the dogs always have a fresh supply of water outside.

Clean or Replace your Dog's Toys

Your dog's toys get filthy after a while of playing. They get dragged on the ground through poop and everything else that your dog sees fit to drag them through. That's why you should be cleaning them and replacing them regularly. Hard toys can usually be ran through the dishwasher, while soft toys can usually have a spin in the washing machine.

If the toy has become degraded and destroyed where your dog could ingest bits of plastic, rope, and other things they shouldn't be eaten, it's time to replace. If you can, toy packs like Jalousie Puppy Chew Dog Rope Toy Assortment for Medium Large Breeds provide a wide variety of toys for an affordable price. When one is destroyed, toss and replace and play time doesn't have to stop for long.