6 steps to Spring Clean your Dog

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Every pet can benefit from a thorough spring cleaning once a year. When taking on this task think of everything related to your canine friend’s lifestyle as something that needs a “cleaning” of its own.

By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger

Start by physically examining your dog.

Check under his nails, between his toes; look at his eyes and ears. Check for anything out of the ordinary that may have gotten stuck in his fur or skin. If anything remotely feels funny, take him to the vet immediately. Spring is a great time anyway to make a veterinary appointment for that yearly physical check-up.

Give your dog a thorough bath, trim his nails and brush his teeth.

Brush your dog prior to bathing to remove loose hair, dirt and matted hair.  Regular brushing also keeps your dog’s coat clean and helps condition his skin.  It is important to keep a dog’s nails trimmed on a regular basis. Overgrown nails can cause discomfort, and make it difficult to walk since he will be using his nails not his pads to balance his weight.  Uncared for nails can become ingrown.  Regular brushing with dog toothpaste helps keep Fido’s breath fresh and reduces tartar build-up.  Unusually bad breath could indicate tartar build-up or, worse, gum disease. NEVER USE HUMAN TOOTHPASTE with your pets. Human toothpaste is toxic to animals!

Inspect your dog’s equipment.

Clean, wash and disinfect all grooming supplies.  Wash your dog’s collar and leash.  You may not realize this but your dog’s collar gets dirty.  Dirt accumulates underneath the collar which can cause discomfort and skin problems. Keep a couple of collars on hand so that you can rotate and wash your dog’s collars.  Check your dog’s leash for breaks and the clasp for proper closure.  Depending on the type of leash you have, either toss it in the wash or, if leather, condition it with Neet’s foot oil or hand cream.  Clean, wash and disinfect all of your dog’s bowls, as well as the surfaces beneath the food and water bowls and containers. Empty the dog food closet or bin and disinfect that area, too.

Look through all your dog’s toys.

Give them a quick once-over. Discard any that are no longer used or are too frayed or worn. Boil or wash (with soap and hot water) any toys that can withstand it; launder or otherwise clean those that cannot.  Try rotating toys to save money and keep your dog’s interest. If you rotate toys every few days or weeks it’s like giving your dog new toys.

Check your dog’s favorite spots: crate, kennel, bed, and sleeping areas.

Pick up, wash and/or vacuum these areas. Get those pet beds, blankets and crate pads in the washer; unzip beanbag beds to examine the contents. If necessary, purchase bulk cedar or mixed cedar filler to refill the bed. Very hot water (and a hot dryer) work well to kill any fleas that may have found their way into your dog’s bed. To get dog and cat hair off of the furniture, use a damp sponge and rake it over furniture and rugs. If you live in Chicago, hire Chicago maid services.

Finally, head outdoors and grab the pooper-scooper.

Clean up the feces while it’s still half-frozen and you will happily thank yourself on the first warm day of the season.


There are few rites of spring more satisfying than the annual clean, even if your pleasure comes only after the work is finished. Although your spring cleaning may never become effortless, a thorough spring cleaning for your dog will help prevent problems in the future and it’s just another way to show your dog you care about him.

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