Start the spring season off on a fresh note!
The snow is starting to melt, the days are getting longer and the temperature is slowly beginning to rise which means spring is here! Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal so it’s not surprising that many of us like to make spring cleaning a ritual. While cleaning out your closet, shed and garage don’t forget about giving your dog supplies a good spring cleaning as well.
Friendly reminder: Many of these spring cleaning chores can and should be applied year round too!
Crates and Ex pens
Crates and exercise pens are pieces of equipment we use all the time, but might not think to clean often enough. Start by pulling the crate out of the area you have it in (probably against a wall). Clean the floor and wall. Then use a cleaning product of your choice on the crate or pen.
Many prefer an all-natural cleaner, others have a commercial cleaner they prefer and others use bleach in diluted proportions (usually one part bleach to 32 parts water). Once the solution is applied, let sit for 20 minutes, then use a powerful hose to thoroughly rinse. If you don’t have a back yard, you can clean a crate or ex pen in a bathtub. Like all cleaning, be sure to execute this task in an area that is properly ventilated. Once rinsed, you can towel or air dry. Be certain that the crate is completely dry before you allow your dog back in.
I wash my dog’s bedding weekly, usually coinciding with their weekly bath so that they stay squeaky clean as long as possible - which for my Terrier – isn’t very long. People often ask me if my Standard Poodle and my Dandie Dinmont Terrier run in the same yard. The answer is yes, my Poodle is tidy and my Dandie believes that all the mud in the yard should definitely come into the house with him!
Back to bedding. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by purchasing a dog bed with a detachable cover. If you own a breed that sheds, use a lint roller or vacuum attachment to get rid of any excess hair first. Once the bedding is in the washer, I use less detergent than I would for my own clothes. It’s best to use a fragrance-free detergent as well as a non-scented fabric softener or dryer sheets.
Before cleaning your dog’s toys, have a look and make sure they are worth keeping. Plush toys with tears should be discarded as should hard toys with cracks or deep scratches. This type of wear could harbour bacteria or be a sign that the toy is about to break, become smaller and possibly get ingested by your dog.
Read the tag or packaging of your dog’s plush toys. Many can be machine washed using no or a tiny bit of detergent on a gentle cycle. I always air dry dog toys, but some plush toy’s washing instructions say to put them in the dryer on low heat for under 30 mins.
Dish soap and water work well for cleaning hard dog toys. You can also soak them in a mixture of white vinegar and water (1 part vinegar to 2 or more parts water). Be sure to rinse off the toy really well and allow to dry completely before giving it back to your dog.
Hair caught in brushes should be cleared out after each use. You can also clean them by letting them sit in hot water and soap, rinsing and then allowing them to dry face up on a clean towel. There are also disinfectant sprays which can be purchased and used as a next step.
Scissors and combs should be wiped after being used and may also be placed in a Barbicide solution as an extra measure.
Blades should be cleaned and oiled often so that they function their best. There are several disinfectant sprays you can use.
Tables, dryers and tubs should also be cleaned often in your grooming area.
Leashes and collars
Washing nylon leads and collars is fairly easy; just throw them in a lingerie bag and wash them in cold water. Be sure to remove tags first and let air dry. If you don’t want to use the washing machine, you can soak and scrub them in water and a bit of dog shampoo or laundry detergent and rinse well before letting them dry.
I wash my leather leashes by running them under cool water while rubbing them with a rag. This will get any dirt off. Hang to dry and avoid direct sunlight while drying. Once the leash is dry, rub and stretch it a bit to warm up the oils and soften the leather. If the leather isn’t flexible at this point, use white saddle soap (usually available at shoe repair shops). These soaps are also conditioners that will help to replenish lost oils. Allow the leash to dry overnight after using white saddle soap. Rub and stretch once dry.
If your leather leash is in water often, you may want to use an oil like mink oil or neatsfoot oil once a year. Apply the oil, buff it with a towel, wipe off excess oil and allow the lead to dry overnight.
Spring clean your dog’s files as well. Organize your dog’s registration documents, certificates and veterinary records. If you have recently moved, this is also a good time to update your contact information with your dog’s breeder, veterinarian, pet insurance provider and with any dog clubs you are a member of.
This is also a great time to go through your dog’s medication and safely dispose of any pills or medicine they no longer need or that have expired.
Spring is a great time for us to start fresh, make sure your dog does as well! Share your spring cleaning tips and tricks in the comments below!
Please note that I am not an animal health care professional. I’m an experienced dog owner and Canadian Kennel Club member. These are simply my tips and how I spring clean my dog equipment.