In today’s society, dogs have graduated from family pet to family member.
We often treat them like our children, except they don’t talk back and they actually appreciate everything we do. Just walk through the front door after a long day at work—what a welcome!
Making a dog such an integral part of your family can be one of life’s greatest pleasures, but some adjustments must be made in order for everyone, especially your dog, to be safe, satisfied and serene.
No matter how much we love our pampered pooches, it’s important to remember that dogs are animals and will bring unwanted dirt and parasites into your home. This is particularly true during wet weather or if a dog’s hair is long and unkempt. As dogs walk through the yard, they can easily pick up fleas and ticks and nematodes such as hookworms and roundworms. The larvae of these harmful parasites simply hang out in the grass waiting to hitch a ride on an unsuspecting canine host, and many of these organisms can be passed on to humans.
To keep your home safe from these tiny terrors, make sure to wash your dog regularly and maintain an overall level of hygiene and cleanliness. Despite what some people say, in most cases, you cannot “overwash” your dog, as long as you avoid abrasive flea-dip style shampoos. Baths keep dogs happy and healthy and in turn protect the home. Just look how proud your dog is showing off her clean coat after you’ve finished. That alone is worth the trouble. (A few dogs, such as Tibetan terriers, have water-repellent hair and should not be washed too often, so find out about your particular breed.)
If you don’t have time for a bath on muddy days, give your dog a foot soak before they roam freely around the house. Try a Paw Clean brand canine footbath that allows for quick cleaning without the fuss.
Inside the house, it’s never a bad idea to use washable dog beds with removable cushion inserts. Zip inserts into dust-mite pillow covers to keep unwanted mites and odors out, while also protecting difficult-to-wash cushions from any accidents. These covers, which are made for regular bed pillows, can be purchased in the bedding section of department stores such as KMart, Target and Walmart.
Different dogs prefer different types of bedding. For instance, chihuahuas and dachshunds are burrowing breeds and are happiest in some kind of pocket, rather than simply sitting on top of a cushion. Fortunately, one can be creative while accommodating your favorite pet with the right bed. There are many fun options available. Try putting the pillow or cushion in a large, shallow basket and then throw a blanket on top—your dog won’t be able to resist climbing inside! Even a dog crate or cage can become a welcoming hideaway with a cushion inside and a large blanket draped over the outside, creating a cave-like atmosphere.
Try your local CVS or other chain drug store to find fleece throws in a wide array of fun patterns. These are incredibly useful as dog blankets and furniture covers. If your dog is lucky enough to share the couch with you, the fleece blankets also work well to protect the upholstery. At $2.50–$4.50, they are practical and hold up through many washings.
Not feeling creative? Visit your local pet shop or go online to sites like Amazon.com or Dog.com, which have a large variety of excellent and easy-to-clean dog beds. Try a Tupperware-style bed by companies like Perla or UDesign, which is a very innovative modular dog bed system. They’re built out of the same material as a sturdy Rubbermaid container, making them very easy-to-clean, and can be stuffed and covered with sheets, pillows and cushions.
Finally, vacuum to rid your home of excess dander and hair. Dyson makes some excellent vacuums with heads specially made for cleaning up pet hair. The company even has a nozzle for grooming dogs’ hair, useful for most breeds. You can’t go wrong.
Colleen Peterson is Red Cross–certified in canine first aid and CPR. She is the owner and operator of Petite Dog Care in Water Mill, a home-based dog care business for small breeds. 631-726-0183, [email protected].