Research by dog-friendly holiday letting specialists, Canine Cottages, reveals the dirty truth about our dogs’ everyday items including their leads, toys, and bowls – and gives some cleaning tips as we face the rainy season.
To determine just how filthy our pooches’ essentials are, eight different dog items were swabbed. Then, the relative light units (which indicate how much bacteria are living on surfaces. The higher the RLU, the dirtier the area) of each item were analysed to reveal which were the filthiest of them all.
Turns out, it’s leads, toys, and bowls that carry the most bacteria. The top five dirtiest items are as follows:
- Dog leads
- Dog toys
- Water bowls
- Food bowls
- Dog beds
Coming in first are dog leads with an RLU of 21,456 which probably isn’t a surprise given they hold dirt and oils from the numerous walkies dogs get taken on! Toys came in as the second dirtiest item swabbed, followed by water bowls which is pretty worrying given most pooches should drink about an ounce of fluids per pound of body weight daily – therefore their bowl should be cleaned regularly.
Comparing dogs’ items to their pawents, a dogs’ toy had 21 times more bacteria than a human teddy bear, whilst their bed is six times dirtier than a human bed!
Given we’re approaching the cooler months of autumn where we experience more cold and wet days, this causes our pooches to pick up more bacteria during their walks, especially if it’s muddy. It’s therefore important that dog owners put extra measures in place to keep their dogs’ everyday essentials clean to limit germs and protect their health.
According to Laura Lambert, owner of Dragonfly Products, owners should:
• Handwash the items in mild detergent and then leave them to dry on a line or over a radiator.
• For really dirty items, pop them inside a pillowcase to prevent damage to the washing machine and do a handwash cycle using mild detergent.
• Most soft dog toys can be washed in the washing machine. You can use a dog-safe laundry detergent to clean and sanitise the toys or you can opt for a totally natural method of baking soda and white vinegar during the washing cycle. Then hang them out on the line or on the radiator.
• Toys that have been left in the garden pose a lungworm threat as slugs and snails are carriers of this parasite, so beware of slug and snail trails on toys and balls! Balls and rubber toys can be soaked in white vinegar and baking soda for 30 minutes to clean them.
• Handwash bowls in hot water with washing-up liquid or put them into the dishwasher (check they are dishwasher safe) for a deep clean.
• We also recommend cleaning raw and wet food bowls daily (raw-fed dogs should also have their water bowls cleaned every day) and at least three times a week for dry food.
For dog beds/towels Julie Butcher, from Webbox, says:
• You’ll need to ensure you are using only non-toxic and non-irritating detergents. If washing it by hand, fill up the sink with warm water and some gentle detergent, and once washed, place the bed in an airing cupboard or outside to dry.
• When using a washing machine, choose a temperature of 40°C or above, so you can be sure that all the bacteria will be killed.
Of course, our pooches will come home with mucky paws if the weather is wet whilst on their walk so it’s important that owners don’t forget to clean them. The last thing you want is for your pooch to bring dirt into your home or even worse, spread the dirt and bacteria from their paws onto their toys which they’ll undoubtedly have in their mouth at some point.
The experts at Canine Cottages, say:
• If their paws are just a little dusty, simply wet a towel or cloth and wipe them down
• If there is mud or debris stuck between the pads or on the foot put them in the tub for a thorough wash. Using dog-friendly products, gently scrub the dirty areas thoroughly and then completely rinse away the shampoo and debris using lukewarm water.
• No matter how you’re cleaning their paws, never forget to wipe around their toes and nails too
Commenting on the study, a spokesperson at Canine Cottages says, “With the rainy season approaching, dog owners will be about to embark on plenty of muddy walks with their furry friends – that requires an extra bit of cleaning!
“From dog towels to dog beds, we wanted to see just how dirty, or clean, our most-used dog items were, comparing them to the human equivalent, and provide helpful tips for dog owners to understand how to clean these items as we approach the wetter season.”
To read more about the study and uncover how human items compare to our pooches, head here.