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Cleaning Supplies You Need When You Have a Puppy

By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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There are many things a new puppy owner has to think about and organize prior to bringing their "wee one" home and cleaning supplies is just one of them. It wouldn't do to have the puppy have its first "accident" on the carpet and not have the right stuff on hand to clean and deodorize the spot. In addition, the new pup's crate will need to be kept clean, as will his food bowl, eating area, and his toys. Having a new pup around is a bit like having a new baby in the house. You have to think about all aspects of the newcomer's safety, preventing it from coming into contact with infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, parasites) yet also protecting it against exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. As friends and neighbors track in from the street, they will bring in to your home on the soles of their shoes a variety of contaminants ranging from infectious particles to lawn chemicals.

While young pups acquire some initial immunity from their dam toward certain dog-specific bacteria and viruses, this immunity wanes as the pup gets older and is replaced by that derived from vaccination. But the transition from one form of immunity (passive) to the other (active) is not always seamless or complete, often leaving holes in the pup's defensive armor. It's safer to assume nothing and do everything to keep the pup free from disease, even if this entails having people take their shoes off at the door and wiping other dogs' paws off before allowing them into the inner sanctum of your (and, more importantly, the pup's) home.

Below is a list of cleaning supplies that are worth considering as part of your armamentarium in the war against uncleanliness and disease.

  • Wipes: Some sort of disposable paper product is great for initial cleaning up or picking up of messes. Some wipes can also be used directly on the pup. Ordinary paper towels purchased in the supermarket are as good as any for cleaning messes off the floor. Kleenex® is probably a better choice for cleaning the pup itself (wiping off paws, etc).

  • Soap/detergent: You may apply soap or detergent to paper towels to help remove organic debris from a contaminated site (do not directly apply on the pup). Antiseptic soap or wipes should also be used for cleansing your hands before you engage in any "hands on" activities with the pup and after you have cleaned up messes. If you need to use additional products or chemicals to clean, soaps and detergents should be washed off before applying any other chemicals to the site.

  • Disinfectant: To destroy microorganisms on surfaces following bulk clean up. Different disinfectants work against a different spectrum of germs. Your veterinarian can help you chose a good one for your purpose. Chlorhexidine (e.g. Novalsan®, Hibitane®) is good against many different types of bacteria and some viruses. Iodines (e.g. Betadine®, Povidone®) are also good but may stain. Phenols (e.g. Lysol®) may be too toxic unless the surface is well washed off after use. Quaternary ammonium compounds (e.g. Roccal-D®) are good but may be inactivated by hard water. Wood tar distillates (e.g. Pine-Sol®) have poor effectiveness against many disease-causing organisms.

  • Odor neutralizer: Once "accidents" (urine, feces, vomit) have been picked up and grossly cleaned using wipes, dilution with water, soap, scrubbing, etc., a proprietary odor neutralizer should be applied. These liquids contain either enzymes or, in some cases, live bacteria that will biologically break down the molecules responsible for lingering odors. Where inappropriate elimination of urine or feces has occurred, trace lingering odors will attract a pup back to a previously soiled area as surely as a heat-seeking missile finds a source of heat. The use of odor neutralizers is of paramount importance in this regard. Attempting to mask the odor will not do: Only odor neutralizers are acceptable. Some brand names are Odorban, Odornil, Nilodor, Nature's Miracle, Anti-Icky-Poo. Make sure the surface is free from harsh chemicals at the time of application. Some chemical cleaners will inactivate the odor-neutralizing product. Make sure the product you but is fresh. Odor neutralizer can be somewhat unstable "on the shelf," depending on environmental conditions.

  • Pooper scooper: To facilitate keeping the outside clean and "picked up."

  • Small disposal bags: For containment of solid waste deposits.

  • Latex gloves: May come in handy for dealing with messy waste.

  • General cleaning Supplies: buckets, mops, brooms, trash bags, and laundry detergent for washing puppy blankets, soft toys, etc.

    With this bag of tricks, a new puppy owner should be in good shape to go forward and deal with any bacterial, viral, parasitic, ammoniacal, or solid matter waste problem that arises. As usual, prevention is better than cure. Rather than wait for some problem of soiling to arise, grab the bull by both horns and squeegee frequently traversed linoleum, tile, or wood surfaces with an appropriate cleaner at regular intervals. Remember: where puppies are concerned, cleanliness is next to dogliness.

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