Dogs are not renowned for being the cleanest of animals, and every dog owner understands that it is important to take steps to avoid the spread of dog-related germs and bacteria, both for the protection of other dogs and to avoid causing illness to people as well. Good hand washing protocols, cleaning up after your dog and paying special attention to food hygiene are all important, but many of the small, everyday aspects of good hygiene and avoiding the spread of harmful bacteria and germs are often overlooked or forgotten in the busy household.
If you want to make sure that you are doing everything that you can to keep both your dog and your family healthy and safe from germs, bugs and other nasties that affect and live on dogs, read on for our important tips to remember.
Hand washing is the front line of good hygiene, but washing your hands properly and always at the right time is something that many dog lovers often overlook. Always wash your hands after you have cleaned up after your dog, or handled or touched scoops or anything else that you use to handle dog poop, such as the lid of dog waste bins.
Always wash your hands thoroughly before eating, and do not touch your face after touching your dog. Wash your hands regularly throughout the day, and be mindful of what you touch and handle after petting your dog but before washing your hands, for instance, children’s toys or crockery. Teach your children early on about good hand washing protocols, and how and when to wash their hands.
Cleaning up after your dog is good canine care 101, and it is important for many reasons. Not only is dog pooh on the surface of the ground an unpleasant hazard, but it also leeches toxins into the ground itself. If your dog goes to the toilet in your own yard or garden, it is important to pick up after them promptly and ensure that pooh isn’t left out to infect the soil. Also, think about where you dispose of your dog pooh; keep it out of kitchen bins and avoid disposing of it inside of the home; put it straight into outside bins if possible.
One of the main risks of dog faeces is the transference of parasitic worms, which can affect both other dogs and people. Ensure that your dog is wormed regularly to keep the chances of them harbouring worms to a minimum, and again, take special care when bagging and disposing of their poop to avoid contact with it. Wear gloves if possible, but do not use this as a substitute for washing your hands.
Dogs should be taught from an early age that licking people is not a good thing, and licking people’s faces is a firm no-no. Your dog is not giving you kisses; they are transferring thousands of germs and bacteria from their mouth onto your face, and let’s not forget how dogs like to lick other parts of their bodies as well!
Do not allow your dog to lick your face, and particularly ensure that they do not lick your children’s faces. If you do find yourself on the receiving end of an overenthusiastic canine tongue, wash your face immediately with hot water and soap.
Keep separate bowls for your dog’s food and water, and never let them eat from your own plates. If possible, wash up your dog’s bowls separately from your own, and keep a dish bowl specifically for human plate washing that the dog bowls do not touch. Disinfect your dog’s bowls regularly, and replace them when they become cracked or badly scratched, as these marks can all harbour stubborn germs and bacteria.
Patting a pongy dog is not only unpleasant, but is exponentially more likely to spread germs and bacteria than patting a dog that is clean and bathed when they get a bit whiffy. If your hand smells of your dog after you have petted them, it is time to give them a bath or take them along to the grooming parlour! It is important not to over-bathe your dog as this can strip the natural oils from their coat, but if your dog smells bad or looks dirty, it is time they had a wash.
Keeping your dog healthy is one of the most important ways to minimise the presence of harmful germs and bacteria, and other sources of potential infection and illness. All dogs carry bacteria, germs and various other types of micro organisms, just as all people do, and this is perfectly normal and in some cases, necessary for health. Your dog’s own immune system is his strongest defence against sickness or passing on harmful bacteria or germs, and keeping his immune system strong by keeping him healthy is the best way to keep your household healthy as well.
Make sure that your dog is fed a complete and nutritious diet, is kept fit, and is vaccinated against all of the standard transmissible canine illnesses. Ultimately, if your dog is healthy and thriving, they are unlikely to pass on anything nasty to other dogs or people, and in order to keep them healthy, you should pay attention to their general wellbeing and all of the health and hygiene guidelines outlined above.