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You come in contact with germy places on a daily basis, like public restrooms, the break room refrigerator door, gas pumps and grocery carts. Unfortunately, another thing to add to your list is your dog’s bed. Sure, you’re not the one sleeping there, but you likely come in secondhand contact with your dog’s bed multiple times a day, every day. Whenever your dog moves from his bed to your couch or comes over to you for a quick pat, he’s dragging an invisible cloud of germs everywhere he goes. Fortunately, dog beds and mats are one germy area you can control the cleanliness of. Learn more about how to properly wash a dog bed or mat, below.
How Dirty Are Dog Beds?
Domestic animals carry disease-causing organisms including bacterial, viral, parasitic and fungal species, according to the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH). Although your pet may not seem ill, infections can be passed from animals to people when you pet their fur or come in contact with their feces, vomit, saliva, urine or other bodily discharges, and many of these disease-causing organisms can live in the environment—including on your dog’s bed—for up to 12 months without a host.
How to Quickly Clean a Dog Bed
Unfortunately, there’s no quick way to thoroughly clean your dog’s bedding. While vacuuming will minimize hair and dirt, it's not enough to get rid of harmful microbes on your pet’s bed. The only way to reduce your risk of infectious disease transmission is to launder your pet's bed once a week, according to the IFH. In between washings, remove hair with a vacuum or rubber gloves or place a sheet over the dog’s bed. As for cleaning different types of dog beds, follow the directions indicated on the bed’s label, as washing instructions may differ depending on the type of fill the bed has or if it has a removable cover. The water temperature and time of washing, however, should remain the same regardless of the bed.
How to Clean Dog Beds Properly
A good guideline to follow: wash your dog’s bed once a week or once every two weeks at minimum, said Kathy Backus, DVM, Holistic Veterinary Services, in Kaysville, Utah.
When determining how often to wash your dog’s bedding, however, you should also consider your pet’s activity level, how much they shed, the amount of time they spend outdoors and if they (or you) have allergies. If those factors are high, you may want to increase the number of washings to twice a week, she said. The longer you go between washes, the harder it will be for your washing machine to remove all the potential pathogens from the bedding.
All pet bedding—including any dog blankets or cushion covers a pet may come in contact with—should be laundered at a temperature of at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit using detergent and chlorine bleach, if the fabric can stand it, said Sally Bloomfield, an honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
If your washing machine doesn’t gauge temperature, choose the highest setting to help kill as many germs as possible. And for pets with sensitive skin, opt for a natural detergent and an extra rinse cycle. Dry your pet’s bed at the highest possible temperature setting, being careful to hang-dry fill or matting so that they don’t clump in the dryer.
After you touch your pet, his dog food, or his bedding, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and running water to cut down on any risk of infection. Always use gloves and paper towels to clean up any feces and regularly clean floor surfaces around your pet’s bed.
You might decide to keep your cat indoors for many different reasons, whether it’s to keep them safe from outdoor hazards, protect native wildlife, or stop them passing on infectious diseases. It’s extra important for indoor-only cats to get plenty of exercise to keep them healthy and happy, as they’re not burning off steam running around outdoors.
There are plenty of ways you can help your indoor cat to keep active. We have put together a few suggestions.
Controlled access to the outdoors:
Although your cat needs to stay inside, they can still enjoy the outdoors in a secure environment. Building a ‘catio’ (cat patio) may be a solution to give your pet access to the outdoors while still making sure they stay at home. A ‘catio’ is a secure, fenced enclosure, usually attached to an owner’s house that your cat can freely come and go from. If that’s not possible, you could also have it be a separate area that you regularly take your cat out to. It allows your cat to enjoy being outside while keeping them safe, secure and close to your house.
Another option might be to train them to walk with a harness, so you can let them enjoy the outdoors without any of the hazards. Walking a cat is quite different to walking a dog, so don’t expect to be able to take them for a jog or lead the way – it’s more like following your cat with a very loose leash as they explore and guiding or moving them away from potential hazards, with the lead as a back-up in case of emergency.
Plenty of toys and playtime:
It’s really important to play with any cat as much as possible, but even more so with indoor cats. Without free access to outside to hunt and chase, they can miss out on a lot of their natural behaviors. By playing with them, you’ll be helping them to get it all out of their system and they’ll be less likely to claw your sofa or attack your socks! Make sure you regularly change and rotate your indoor cat’s toys to keep things interesting for them.
Cats hunt and chase in short bursts, so play in five or ten minute sessions with pauses for your cat to catch their breath. Plan in plenty of sessions per day. Feed your cat right after a play session to make them feel like they’ve “worked” for their food.
Lots to scratch:
Cats love to scratch, whether they’re inside or outside. It’s something they need to do to keep their claws in good condition. Indoor cats may need a few extra scratching options around the house. You can get different types of cat scratchers aside from the traditional ‘scratching post’ to make it more interesting for your cat. Look for different surfaces to scratch as well – sisal, wood, cardboard and carpet are all options. Every cat will have a different preference so figure out what your cat loves to dig their claws into.
Different things to explore:
You can also introduce loads of places for them to explore – you can even buy special cat furniture but many cats may even find fun in cardboard boxes.
Make sure they have different levels to play on. You can get large cat climbers or trees that also have places for them to hide and to be up high. You could even install shelves or runways on the walls for your cat to make full use of your space.
Puzzle feeders are great to combine food with exercise. It will help your indoor cat to practice their hunting and use their brain, plus they’ll get a tasty reward. Remember it’s important to not only keep your cat physically active but also mentally active to stop them getting bored.
This article is from the Sure Petcare April 29, 2019 blog. PSA is not affiliated with Sure Petcare or any other of their related businesses or services. The thoughts and opinions listed above are those of the author of the article.
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