It goes without saying, but we’re a nation of animal lovers.
Britain was, in fact, the first country in the world to start a welfare charity for animals – as early as 1824. Fast forward to the present day, and there’s an estimated 20m cats and dogs pampered, cared for, nay, worshipped – living the time of their lives in households all over the country. And if we throw birds and fish into the mix, then apparently one in two homes are pet friendly.
That’s a lot of pets in a lot of homes. So, this central question – Are antibacterial wipes toxic to pets? – is clearly a hugely important consideration.
And unfortunately, the answer is yes.
Those same ingredients that make anti-bacterial products so effective in eradication of viruses can cause serious harm to cats and dogs, so as a pet owner it is important to understand the risks, and take measures accordingly to ensure animals are kept out of the way when anti-bacterial cleaning is taking place.
Pets – and particularly dogs – have more sensitive skin than humans, and you want to guard against their paws coming into contact with freshly applied cleaning product.
Back in January 2019 – before the COVID pandemic was really being talked about in the UK – a widely used disinfectant hit the news when a dog walked across a moist, freshly-cleaned floor, licked its paws, and became sick through toxic poisoning. And whilst dogs’ skin may be more sensitive – more porous than their feline friends – it is actually cats that spend more time licking their paws and fur.
So clearly there is a conundrum. Now, more than ever – as we live through the ongoing pandemic – people want to ensure the home is clean, and as virus-free as humanly possible – which means applying products which actively attack bacterial and viral strains, preventing cross contamination. And at the same time, you don’t want to harm the cat.
So whilst it’s a balancing act, what you should really try to avoid are specific ingredients known to be dangerous to animals: bleach, ammonia, formaldehyde, chlorine and glycol ethers – these have been shown to cause diseases like cancer, anaemia, liver and kidney damage.
How to deep clean around your pets
Labrador, German Shepherd, or Golden Retriever – it’s a toss-up as to which would win in the hair-shedding stakes.
Big dogs make their presence felt in more ways than one – a feeling that is amplified indoors – and, during spring and autumn, when they shed much of their fur, it is always abundantly clear which rooms of the house they’ve been in.
Whilst dogs will tend to shed more fur on account of their larger size, it’s rarer to find dog hair on the bed or sofa: areas that are frequently off-limits. Even the least obedient hound in the world knows to stay out of the bedroom.
Cats, on the other hand, well, it’s a different matter altogether. Cats are ushered into bedrooms and living rooms as if it was going out of fashion. (Which, as everyone knows, is not the way to persuade a cat to join you on the sofa. The only sure-fire way of ensuring snuggle time with the cat in front of a movie is to feign complete indifference as to its very presence. Works every time.)
Anyway…, what with all this animal hair lying, floating, and getting swept up in gusts as people walk by, the house is admittedly tricky to keep clean. And even trickier to disinfect.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to both clean and disinfect the home, whilst still taking good care of your pets.
- First and foremost, keep pets away from the area for the duration of the deep-clean operation, and only allow them back in once the product has properly dried.
- Try to avoid using known irritants such as those listed previously – specifically bleach and ammonia as these can cause a severe reaction in the eyes, nose, throat and stomach. If their use is absolutely critical, then aim for a high dilution of the product with water, and once again, allow good time for the disinfected surface to dry, before allowing the animal back into the room. Where possible, try to use natural or plant-based cleaning products, rather than off-the-shelf brands that invariably contain many of those problematic ingredients. Always check ingredients carefully.
- Minimise the use of sprays, in favour of surface-based cleaning products. Using wipes ensures better cleaning accuracy: you know exactly where the anti-bacterial film is being applied. The other danger with sprays is the uncertainty as to how long product may remain in the atmosphere – with owners potentially inviting their pets back into the room prematurely. (Also worth noting – avoid using sprays entirely around where pets eat and drink: droplets landing in their drinking water could cause serious problems.)
- Do not use disinfectant and deep-clean products on Whilst less common, it has been reported that cats and dogs can both become infected with the COVID-19 virus, so it’s understandable that owners will want to do what they can to protect their beloved furry friends. However, this doesn’t mean dousing them in anti-bacterial spray. Ensuring their natural internal environment is clean and sanitised provides a far more effective (and less dangerous) way of looking after their well-being.
- Keep cleaning tools and products locked away in areas where the pets can’t reach. (Tricky with cats, admittedly) Once you’ve completed a deep clean, you want to ensure that the mops and buckets are rinsed thoroughly with water, and stored away in a cupboard with the door closed. Similarly, throw away any disposable cleaning products immediately after use, and keep bins covered at all times.
Why are pets sensitive to cleaning products?
Dogs are notoriously sensitive about their feet. There is an innate understanding that if anything were to happen to their paws, then they would be in a bit of a bind.
Their leathery pads pound all manner of terrains and temperatures on a daily basis, but actually the top of the paw is one of the most sensitive part of their body – and few dogs enjoy having their paws cleaned.
With this heightened sensitivity, and the in-built understanding of the paws’ importance, then:
- they are naturally going to display a severe reaction to highly potent cleaning products through simple skin absorption
- continually try to self-clean their feet using the tongue – resulting in possible toxic ingestion through the mouth.
A potentially lethal double whammy.
The best way to keep the home both virus free, and safe for pets, is through establishing a rigid cleaning routine:
- Keep pets out of harm’s way until all surfaces are dry
- Wipe rather than spray – particularly around where pets eat. (Our dermatologically-tested Hand & Surface wipes are anti-bacterial, yet gentle on skin, so might be best advised in pet-friendly homes)
- Keep a dedicated locked cupboard for cleaning products
- Dispose of used products immediately after use