Hygiene tips for dog lovers

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Dogs enrich our lives and I know that my home would be incomplete without Jess, our family dog. However, he certainly added to the housework and it can be easy to let some of those daily chores slip once in a while. Our hygiene tips for dog lovers may help you keep on track.

Ensuring that your home is clean is more challenging when you have pets. Not only do you need to clean up hair and general grime, but there are also toys, bedding, grooming tools and dishes that all need sanitizing.

muddy dog needs a bath

General health

Keeping on top of cleaning and pet hygiene benefits you in many ways. Your home will look and smell cleaner, your dog will be more comfortable and you will be protecting the general health of your family members, both human and animal.

Dog grooming routine

Regular grooming is vital for your dog’s welfare. Whether you choose to use a dog groomer or complete the grooming yourself, your dog must be comfortable and relaxed. If your dog is frightened or displays any signs of stress it is best to stop and try at another time.

Overcoming stress and fear of grooming

If your dog shows signs of stress or fear when he is being groomed you may try the following:


Distraction is a great way to help your dog get used to grooming. I’ve had success in using treats to distract my dog whilst cutting his claws.


Dogs are less likely to become stressed whilst being groomed if they have had plenty of exercise before the grooming session.

Go at your dog’s pace

Your dog may tolerate grooming for a short period. You can extend the time by using treats to distract him. However, there may be a limit to his patience. It is important to stop grooming before your dog becomes distressed as this will make any subsequent grooming session harder for both of you.


Consistency, routine and repetition are your friends. Dogs are going to be more accepting of grooming if it is part of their routine.

Daily dog grooming tasks

Cleaning your dog's teeth is an important hygiene task

Dental care

Ideally, you should be cleaning your dog’s teeth daily. Once your dog is used to the routine, he will begin to expect and enjoy having his teeth cleaned. If you can’t commit to a daily routine, you should aim to clean your dog’s teeth 3 – 4 times a week.  You can also feed your dog raw carrots which are a healthy alternative to dog dental chews.

Grooming long-haired dogs

Dog breeds that have long hair will benefit from daily brushing to prevent matting and tangles. You can get advice on the most appropriate style of brush from a professional dog groomer or your vet.

Sticking to a daily routine will make brushing easier and it will help strengthen your bond and keep your dog’s coat looking shiny and healthy.

Weekly dog grooming tasks

Grooming medium-haired dogs

Dogs with medium hair will benefit from weekly grooming.

Ear care

All dog’s ears need weekly checks. Dogs with drop ears or folds will require additional attention and you may prefer to check them more frequently.

What should you look for?

Your dog’s ears should be free of earwax and odourless. If you notice any kind of discharge, redness, swelling or you notice your dog scratching or rubbing his ears you should seek advice from your vet.

Monthly dog grooming tasks

baths are important for hygiene

Dog Baths

A monthly bath for your dog should be adequate. Whilst it is possible to bathe them more often, you start running the risk of skin dryness and irritation. Washing your dog too often or with the wrong shampoo can strip the skin and hair of their natural oils.

Nail clipping

Dog’s that are active and take walks on pavements often don’t need to have their nails cut. However, as dogs age and their energy and activity levels drop you may find that nail care is more important. If your dog’s nails are too long, it can change the way your dog walks and distributes his weight. This can create an unnatural angle for the foot which can cause pain in your dog’s paws. Because of this, we recommend that you start getting your dog used to having their nails cut as early as possible.

My dog hates nail clippers, so rather than cause him stress I looked for an alternative tool. I have had success in using an electric nail file specifically designed for dogs. However, if you aren’t comfortable in doing this yourself ask a dog groomer to cut your dog’s nails.

Flea and tick treatments

Monthly flea and tick treatments should keep your dog and house tick and flea free.

Other dog grooming tasks

Border Terriers need hand stripping

Stripping double-coated dogs

Many dogs have a coat that has two types of fur. A Long wiry outer coat and a shorter and softer inner layer. This is particularly true of many terrier breeds. For example, Border Terriers have a double coat that doesn’t shed easily. Therefore Border Terriers require hand stripping twice a year. If you choose to go to a professional groomer, check that they will hand-strip rather than use clippers. Using clippers doesn’t remove the dead hair. As a consequence, the dog’s coat will lose texture and its natural protective properties.

Cutting your dog’s fur

Silky coated dogs need frequent hair trims to keep them in good condition and looking great. A short haircut can last for two to three months. Other dogs may need monthly visits to the groomer.

Hygiene and your pet’s belongings

Cleaning your pet’s toys

Cleaning your pet’s toys is often overlooked. What should you consider when it comes to toys and hygiene?

hygiene for dog lovers

Plush toys

It’s cute to see a dog carrying around a favourite teddy. It is less cute when the toy is stinky and needs a wash. If the toy is ripped and is losing stuffing it is worth considering a replacement rather than risk it becoming a choking hazard.

Most plush toys will come with cleaning instructions. It is best to follow these guidelines.

Rubber, plastic or nylon toys

You may be tempted to wash rubber, plastic or nylon toys in your dishwasher. It is important to check whether the toy is dishwasher safe. If the toy isn’t dishwasher safe the hot water and drying cycle can cause the toy to lose shape and structure. This can lead to your dog choking on small and potentially sharp shards of plastic.

We recommend that you hand wash toys in the kitchen sink and ensure you rinse the toy well.

Rope toys

Because of a rope’s absorbent quality, it can quickly become breeding grounds for bacteria and mould.

As long as the rope toy is just rope and doesn’t include plastic rings or any kind of metal you can soak the toy in water and then microwave it for 2 – 3 minutes to sterilise it. If the toy is dirty you can put this through your washing with the rest of your laundry.

Cleaning your dog’s bed

Not only does a dirty dog bed smell, but it can also harbour bacteria, fleas and mites. If your dog’s bed has a removable cover washing it once a month should be sufficient. If, however, your dog enjoys getting muddy you may want to have more than one bed so you can rotate them as required.

hygiene tip - cleaning dog bowls

Bowls and dishes

If you feed your dog dry food then you should clean their bowls every day. If you feed them wet food you should use a fresh bowl for every meal.

Hygiene tips for dog lovers – summary

This may look like a lot of work, but once you adjust your routine these tasks will become a habit. In many instances, you will look forward to spending quality time bonding with your dog and you can be confident that you are doing the best to keep your dog and household clean.

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