If you own a dog, you know that dog hair will inevitably get all over your house. This might leave you wondering what else your dog is bringing into your home.
These days, people are thinking more than ever about sanitation, and for good reason, and while we haven’t seen any reports of dogs spreading COVID, that doesn’t mean they can’t bring in other nasty bugs and germs.
So, can you use antibacterial wipes to keep your dog clean? And if so, what kind of wipes should you use? Let’s take a closer look at this important, but little-discussed aspect of dog ownership!
Why would I want to wipe off my dog?
We mentioned that dogs can potentially bring germs into your home. But that’s just theoretical, right?
To find out, we looked at a study from North Carolina University. In the study, researchers measured the number of bacteria in a number of houses with dogs as household members. They also measured bacteria levels in another group of dog-free homes. When they compared the numbers, homes with dogs had higher levels of bacteria.
Not only were there more bacteria in these homes, but there were a wider variety.
Specifically, homes with dogs had higher levels of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and MRSA, among others, including germs that can cause pneumonia. There was some good news, though; researchers did not find any difference in germ levels between different dog breeds. In other words, there doesn’t seem to be any breed that’s “germier” than others.
In the study, researchers also tracked where in the home they found bacteria. The highest levels were found on pillowcases and TV screens. Pillowcases made sense to us, but we have to admit we were surprised by TV screens.
On the other hand, researchers did not find any noticeable difference in the amount of bacteria on the floor. Researchers speculated that this is because paws are smaller than feet, so humans actually track more bacteria on the floor than dogs do.
Regardless, the takeaway from this study is that everyone in your family brings bacteria into the house.
Unless you’re prepared to lock yourself inside and never leave home again, that’s a fact we all just have to learn to live with. The best advice is to follow basic hygiene rules. Wash your hands after playing with your dog, especially before you eat.
Finally, we should point out that there may be some benefits to having more bacteria in your home. Children whose parents had a dog in the home during the pregnancy are less likely to have allergies. In fact, children will continue to get the same benefit from living with a dog up to the age of one.
Dog Hygiene Basics
Let’s start with the good news. According to Texas veterinarian Dr. Sara Ochoa, there’s no need to use any PPE on your dog. There’s no evidence of dogs spreading or getting sick from COVID, so you don’t have to put a face mask or paw coverings on your dog.
That said, as we’ve already learned, dogs can carry germs that make people sick, and Dr. Ochoa says that it’s not a bad idea to wash your pet’s paws after a walk. After all, you wash your own hands after they get dirty. Why wouldn’t you do the same for your dog?
Unfortunately, Dr. Ochoa also says that people often make the mistake of using cleaning products that are toxic for dogs. Some of the most common products people use are ordinary disinfectant wipes, which can cause inflammation and pain.
So, what should you use to clean your dog?
“A gentle baby shampoo and water will do the trick," Dr. Ochoa says. “Just like hand-washing protocol for people, wash your pet’s paws for 20 seconds before rinsing off.”
If there’s any itching or dryness, a dab of coconut oil can clear things up.
As for frequency, Dr. Ochoa recommends bathing your dog about once a month. This can vary widely depending on breed, though. Some dogs should be bathed frequently, while others should rarely, if ever be bathed. If you’re not sure, ask your veterinarian what’s best for your particular dog.
I don’t want to shampoo. Are baby wipes safe?
Of course, shampooing your dog is a bit of a process. It’s not practical, or even desirable, to shampoo your dog on a daily basis. What if they get into a mess and just need to be wiped down?
Let’s start with the obvious: using an ordinary surface disinfecting wipe on your dog is a big no.
If it’s not safe to use on humans, it’s certainly not safe to use on your dog.
Many people recognize this, and try to use baby wipes instead. The thinking goes that baby wipes are non-abrasive and gentle. After all, if they’re safe for an infant’s delicate skin, surely they’re just fine for dogs. Right?
Unfortunately, dog skin is actually more sensitive than human skin. This means that even many baby wipes are not safe for dogs. Not only that, but dog skin has a different pH level than human skin. This means that wipes that are perfectly balanced for humans can cause irritation on a dog.
Another concern is that dogs constantly lick themselves. Anything that goes on their skin or fur is going to end up in their stomach. Obviously, anything with artificial fragrances should be avoided.
However, there’s an even sneakier danger hiding in many baby wipes. Many wipes contain a chemical called propylene glycol, a common ingredient in many cleaners.
According to the Pet Poison Help Line, if cats or dogs ingest large amounts of propylene glycol, poisoning can occur. This is most commonly seen when pets ingest liquid, high concentration propylene glycol products.”
Now, we should point out that the Help Line specifically uses the words “large amounts” and “high concentration”. In other words, your dog will probably be just fine if you use a baby wipe now and then in an emergency. But is it something you really want to risk?
One last thing we should mention about both shampoo and wipes is that you should be very careful around your dog’s eyes. They’re more sensitive than our eyes, so it’s important not to get any soap in them.
Are there dog-safe wipes available?
Yes! You just have to know what you’re looking for. As we mentioned above, you want to avoid wipes that contain propylene glycol. You’ll also want to avoid wipes that aren’t “tear free”.
You can order specially-made dog wipes online. These wipes are not only safe for dogs, but also tend to be more rugged than ordinary wipes. As such, they’re ideal for wiping up mud and other dog-common messes.
When your pup is all clean but they’ve tracked mud into their hangout area, a good option for cleaning your pet’s habitat are the surface wipes from Dr. Brite. All Dr. Brite cleaning products are all-natural, vegan, and safe for children and pets. They even make a pet oral care bundle!
Regardless of what you end up using, we hope we’ve made ourselves clear: check the ingredients, and trust your gut. If something seems “off,” don’t take a chance; use a different product.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into deciding how to clean your dog. Whether a simple wipe or a shampooing are required will depend on what you need. As long as you’re using a pet-safe product and not a generic wipe, you and your dog are going to be just fine.