Unclean Dog Toys Can Bring Parasites into Your Home!
Sharing your home with a furry, four-legged family member often results in having an insane number of toys lying around. That’s not something to be ashamed of, of course. You should feel the exact opposite!
Providing your pet with toys shows how much you care about giving them the physical and mental stimulation they need to lead a happy and healthy life. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that toys can become a breeding ground for harmful microorganisms. They can even bring outdoor parasites into your home if not sanitized regularly.
Parasitic worms, such as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms, are collectively called soil-transmittable helminths since they mainly spread through contaminated soil. They can survive for months without a host and lie dormant on the ground for years, waiting for unsuspecting victims. That means, if your dog’s favorite Frisbee disc or tennis ball ever falls on contaminated soil, these parasites can easily hitch a ride over to the inside of your home!
Parasites Found in the Soil
Roundworms, also known as ascarids, are parasitic intestinal worms that are usually white or light brown—kind of like spaghetti—and can grow up to 13 inches long! They feed off of their hosts’ intestines and cause gastrointestinal problems, like diarrhea and vomiting. Your dog may also start coughing once the roundworms migrate into the lungs.
Similar to roundworms, hookworms or Ancylostoma duodenale, are classified as parasitic intestinal worms since they invade the intestinal tract. They use their hook-like mouthpieces to attach themselves to their host’s intestinal lining and feed off of the blood vessels and tissues, eventually causing severe anemia.
Whipworms, also known as Trichuris trichiura, is considered to be one of the most common intestinal parasitic worms in dogs. They can grow to about 6 millimeters long and live up to five years in infected soil, feces, or even animal flesh.
Once they enter a host, they immediately take up residence in the cecum, which is the pouch-like structure connecting the end of the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine. Then, they burrow their tails into the intestinal walls as their mouths gobble up food that enters.
4. Giardia intestinalis
As its name suggests, Giardia intestinalis is a parasite that feeds off of the nutrients entering their host’s intestinal tract. However, these parasites are only infective during a particular stage in their lifecycle—the cyst stage. During this time, cysts can survive in the environment for months. Once they’re inside the body, they mature into trophozoites and multiply in the intestines, producing more cysts which are eventually shed into the feces.
If you want to know more about parasitic worms in dogs, click here!
How to Properly Sanitize or Wash Your Dog’s Toys
When it comes to your dog’s safety, it’s very important to make sure you’re covering all the bases. Your dog may be up-to-date on all their vaccines and visit the vet religiously, but if the toys they play with daily are crawling with disease-causing parasites, they can still get sick.
Plush Toys (stuffed toys, toys made of cloth material, tennis balls)
If the plush toys are machine-washable, then you can toss them into the washing machine. Be sure to add some natural, fragrance-free laundry detergent, and use the sanitize cycle. If they’re not machine-washable, then it’s best just to hand wash them using dish-washing soap or a fragrance-free detergent soap, and warm water.
After that, let the toys air dry. You can place them directly under the sun to dry for some extra parasite-killing action.
You can sanitize rubber toys by soaking them in a bowl of white vinegar and warm water—one part white vinegar and two parts warm water. If you don’t want to use white vinegar, then you can substitute it with dish-washing soap.
Let the rubber toy sit in the mixture for about 15-20 minutes. Then, use a bottle brush or toothbrush to remove the loosened dirt, mold, or food particles on the toy. Lastly, rinse it with warm water and let it air dry.
Hard Toys (Frisbee discs, boomerangs, plastic dog balls)
You can wash hard toys using dishwashing soap or detergent soap. Scrub the toys thoroughly with a toothbrush, making sure to get into all the crevices. If they’re extra dirty and have hardened grime on them, let them soak in a bowl of white vinegar and warm water for about 15-20 minutes before scrubbing all over. Then, rinse the toys with warm water and let them air dry.
Never use bleach or other chemical cleaners when cleaning your pet’s toys! They’re extremely harsh and poisonous to animals.
When to Say Goodbye to a Toy
Just like us humans, animals can become attached to their belongings. So, getting rid of your fur ball’s favorite old, soggy, sewn-together-a-million-times stuffed chew toy probably won’t be that easy. However, for their safety and yours, it has to be done.
If your dog has a toy that’s already breaking apart—you know, pieces of it are literally dangling or coming off, or stuffing is popping out—then it’s time to bid farewell. Not only are damaged toys the perfect hiding place for parasites, but they’re also very dangerous for your pet.
Particles that are breaking off of your dog’s toys can easily become choking hazards and endanger your dog’s life. You can check out these dog toys. All of them are durable and effective in keeping canine members of the household happy, active, and engaged—dog owners love ’em!
Things to Consider When Buying New Dog Toys
When buying new dog toys, always confirm if they’re made by a reputable company. Be sure to check the labels, and read the materials that were used. You can also do some research if you can, and familiarize yourself with the toxic chemicals that are sometimes used when making dog toys. That way, you’ll know which ones to stay away from.
Pet-safe dog toys are usually either hand-made or made in the US, but those manufactured by small companies are mostly safe, too. When buying stuffed toys, the best choices are those that have 100% organic stuffing, while for rubber toys, those made out of 100% natural rubber are the safest. If you can, support companies that use eco-friendly materials and stay away from those that use phthalates, lead, formaldehyde, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), and BPA (bisphenol A).