Pet Safe Spring Cleaning

As winter eases its grip, many households turn to a time-honored tradition that arrives with mild temperatures and open windows: spring cleaning. It’s a time to freshen up homes and yards but requires a little care and common sense for homeowners with pets.

It’s also a chance to freshen up the living quarters for your dogs or cats, who may have felt just as cooped up as you during the weary winter weather.

House and Yard Maintenance

Consider what hazardous materials you might be using and keep the environment safe for your dog or cat.

  • Separate pets from cleaning. The easiest solution is to keep pets out of the rooms you’re cleaning. That includes leaving time for the room to air out and for all the surfaces to dry completely.
  • The same goes for painting. It probably goes without saying that painting and pets don’t mix. If you’re taking the opportunity to put a fresh coat of paint in a special room, keep pets well away from the paint — and the fumes — until the job is done and the room is well ventilated.
  • Consider the products you use. Strongly acidic or alkaline cleaners — including those that remove rust, scour toilets and clear drains — are particularly dangerous. More routine supplies such as glass cleaners, spot removers and surface cleaners can cause diarrhea or vomiting in your pet if ingested.   Avoid all cleaners with phenols, phthalates, formaldehyde, bleach, isopropyl alcohol or perchloroethylene when cleaning around animals.  If they must be used, keep animals away from the general area for a minimum of 24 hours.
  • The same goes for outdoor supplies. What fertilizers, mulch, pest repellents or weed treatments do you use around your yard? Keep pets off freshly treated lawns and follow package usage and storage instructions for yard chemicals. Always supervise your dog or cat while you are gardening. Some fertilizers and insect repellents can cause illness if ingested.  Cocoa mulch can tempt dogs the same as chocolate does — with the same potential for illness.
  • Check the yard. Muddy puddles are collecting points for bacteria, which won’t be healthy for your dog or cat to lap up. Check fencing for holes or loose spots. Make sure screens fit snuggly into window frames. Cats in particular can be vulnerable to tumbling from high windows with poorly fitted (or nonexistent) screens.
  • Pets groom themselves with their mouths. Cleaning products, paints, fertilizers or other materials may leave residual chemicals your pet can lick off its own fur. Be sure to store and use such materials carefully.
  • Watch what you plant. Avoid some plants and flowers — unless you can keep pets away. Toxic varieties include azaleas, clematis, daylilies, Easter lilies, ferns, hyacinth, irises, morning glory, rhododendron and tulips.
Checking Your Pet’s Environment

Freshen up and inspect the spots where your pet spends time.

  • Do you use an invisible containment system? Use your system’s testing feature to double-check for breaks in the wire ringing your property. Change batteries in transmitters and collars. Consider doing a light retraining session with your dog to make sure he’s clear on how the system works.
  • Launder your pet’s bedding. Use bedding with a removable fabric cover so you can throw it in the wash. Then, make a weekly routine of it. Get two covers so one is always available while the other is in the wash.
  • Clean toys and dishes. If they can go in the dishwasher, do that. Otherwise, throw washable toys into a pillowcase and wash them with the rest of the laundry, or hand-wash them with dishwashing soap and hot water. You may also try a 50-50 solution of water and vinegar to clean toys. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and allow time to air dry.
  • Clean cat and dog carriers. Springtime is a great opportunity to thoroughly clean carriers. Hot water, soap and a careful rinse should be sufficient. If you think you must use a chemical disinfectant, be sure to leave plenty of time and space (apart from your pet) so it can air dry completely.
Also, this quick reminder can’t hurt: keep the numbers for your vet and the Pet Poison Helpline (1-855-764-7661) handy.

Explore our Resources below to learn more information about the importance of cleaning for your pet during spring cleaning.


Safe Spring Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners—Oregon Veterinary Medical Association

Springtime Safety Tips—The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Make Spring Cleaning Pet Safe Instead of Pet Toxic—PetMD

8 Spring Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners—Vet Street

Spring Cleaning Tips for Dog Owners—Cesar’s Way

Fertilizers and Mulch Dangers for Dogs—Pet Health Network