Your guide to pet-friendly spring cleaning

If you're one of the many people planning to spruce up their home as the weather gets nicer, don't forget that many cleaning products and equipment can cause problems for your pets.

Woman washing in kitchen with dog

Toxic cleaner hazards for pets

Household cleaners are highly toxic, and playful pets often mistake their brightly coloured and oddly shaped bottles for toys. In most cases, the astringent smell will put them off actually drinking the contents, but if they walk on recently cleaned surfaces or through spillages their paws will pick up residues which they may lick later.

Common toxic cleaners to watch out for:

  • Bleach can cause stomach issues and corrosion around the mouth and in the gut if drunk. It can also cause further issues if splashed in the eye or on the skin.
  • Laundry detergent (tablets, pods and powder), soaps and multipurpose cleaners can cause vomiting, which may appear foamy or frothy, as well as stomach upset and dehydration.
  • Dishwasher tablets can look like treats to pets, but cause vomiting, diarrhoea and burns around the mouth and in the stomach.
  • Dishwasher salt causes extreme thirst and urination, vomiting, and decreased appetite.
  • Oven and drain cleaners are highly caustic and can cause internal tissue damage and chemical burns around the mouth.
  • Air fresheners can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, cause headaches and nausea and even damage the liver, kidney and central nervous system if swallowed in large quantities.

Always store household cleaning products well out of reach in a secure cupboard or box.

Allow cleaned surfaces to dry completely before letting your pet walk on them and clean up any spills immediately.

Electrical cleaning equipment hazards for pets

Vacuum cleaners, steam mops and carpet cleaners all pose an electrical hazard to pets. It’s always worth checking cables and plugs are in good condition to avoid electrocution, and that they’re neatly stored away when not in use.

Loud cleaning equipment can also be stressful for your pet, if this is the case – try and ensure that are out of the way or sleeping while you’re cleaning.

Spring cleaning your pet’s belongings

Now’s a great time to give your pet’s belongings a deep clean to remove dirt, hair and bacteria. It’ll also help remove flea eggs which can lie dormant in soft furnishings for some time before hatching.

Ideally, you’ll be cleaning their bowls, bedding and blankets as regularly as possible, so now’s the time to start a regular cleaning regime to keep your pet, and your family, safe.

  • Water and food bowls harbour bacteria from food and saliva and should be cleaned at least once a day in hot, soapy water.
  • Bedding and blankets should be cleaned once a week on a hot cycle in the washing machine. Use a mild, pet-friendly detergent to remove dead skin, dirt and flea eggs.
  • Toys should be cleaned weekly either in hot, soapy water for hard, rubber toys, or on a hot washing machine cycle with mild detergent for soft, fabric toys.
  • Litter boxes should be scooped after every use and the litter changed at least once a week. Use a mild soap and hot water to clean the tray itself once a week.
  • Leads and harnesses should be cleaned once a month either in the washing machine or by hand if they’re leather.
  • Collars should be cleaned every week in the washing machine or in hot water with mild detergent. Make sure it’s completely dry before putting it back on your pet to avoid bacterial growth and have a spare handy while the other one is in the wash.
  • Rabbit hutches should be deeply cleaned and disinfected once a week, although you should refresh their bedding and litter daily.

For more advice about keeping your pet safe this season, contact your local Medivet practice.

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