Communicable diseases of social dogs....and how we clean our toys

Posted by Bold Commerce Collaborator

First of all, I want to ensure that everyone knows that I am NOT a professionally trained veterinarian.  I am also not advocating for or against vaccinating your pet, that is between you and veterinarian.  

We do require that puppies have received all their initial vaccinations prior to using our service.  

There are viruses everywhere, everyday.  They do not distinguish between densely or lightly populated areas (although statistics may say otherwise) nor do they care who or what they may infect.  The following article discusses the "primary" diseases, their transmission vehicle, and symptoms.  This list is NOT inclusive; there are several other bacterial infections that can be transferred amongst canines.  These are considered "core" vaccinations for diseases which pose a risk of severe human impact.  These are considered by most to be the minimal amount of vaccinations each dog should have.  Note that most, if not all, of these viruses can incubate and will not show symptoms for long periods of time, but remain very contagious.  

 “Core” vaccinations

Rabies: Any mammal is capable of being infected with the virus that causes rabies.  Rabies is 100% fatal in animals once symptoms appear.  The virus is spread through saliva into any skin wound or from a bite from an infected animal.  Raccoons, skunks and other wild animals can carry the rabies virus and are often present in the same areas as dogs.  Local laws may dictate vaccination of this virus to prevent outbreak and risk to human health.

Canine Distemper: This virus spreads through virus particles in the air or respiratory secretions of infected dogs.  This disease is often fatal, and the vaccine is effective in protecting your dog from this virus.  Most puppies receive the distemper vaccination series by 16 weeks of age.  At Doggie Distractions, we require that your puppy be at least 16 weeks of age, with all initial immunizations complete, in order to enjoy our treats.  A 1:20-1:30 dilution of bleach applied to any surface kills the virus instantly.

Canine parvovirus (“parvo”):  Parvo is spread by direct contact between dogs, contaminated stools, shared equipment, and hands and clothing of people.  It can survive in soil for years, making this virus very hard to kill.  Parvo is deadly.  Symptoms include gastrointestinal issues, fever, vomiting and severe diarrhea. By soaking an object in a 1:20-1:30 dilution of bleach kills the virus.

Canine influenza (“dog flu”):  Dog flu is caused by a virus and is relatively new to dogs.  The virus transmits through respiratory secretions, which makes it an airborne disease.  Surface cleaning will not eliminate any aerosolized virus that can remain airborne and infectious for up to two weeks.  A vaccine for 2 different strains of this virus exists, but it is not recommended for every dog.  Symptoms are very similar to “kennel cough” at onset, secondary infections due to a weakened immune system wreak the most havoc on a dog's health.  There is no cure for the dog flu, only preventative measures.  The virus is easily killed by a rinse in 1:30 bleach solution.

Kennel cough: This illness can be caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria.  It is spread by contact with an infected dog.  There are vaccines for kennel cough and most dog boarding facilities require them.  Like dog flu, symptoms are snotty noses and a dry, hacking cough.

Leptospirosis: This bacterial infection is spread through urine or feces of infected animals.  It can be contracted by animals and humans alike. There is a vaccine for leptospirosis. 

Your dog is at some level of risk if you:

-Take your dogs on walks

-Have doggy play dates

-Visit a dog park

-Board your dog

-Conduct training with shared equipment

-Send your dog to doggy day care

-Send your dog to groomers

In some instances, even with vaccinations.  The reality is that everyday you and your dog are exposed to these viruses.  You can reduce all your risk by keeping your dog inside all the time and not allowing him to socialize with any other animals.  But that is no life for your family member!

At Doggie Distractions, we consider the risks exposed to your dog in everyday life and the risk of sharing a community toy when you use our product.  Sharing and fighting for toys often occurs at dog parks, at dog play dates, and at doggy daycares.  We take what we consider to be a conservative approach to cleaning our toys to minimize any risk of spreading a communicable disease between dogs.  Although we began with using "soft' chemicals for cleaning, it just doesn't stack up to the assurance that a bleach mixture provides.  As noted above, a 3%-5% bleach solution, with the proper surface exposure, can render a toy nearly disease free.

Our method of cleaning:

1. Hot soapy water soak greater than 120F.

2. Brush scrubbing to remove all organic matter inside and outside the toy.

3. Immersion and soak in a 3%-5% bleach solution with scrub inside and out.

4. Fresh water rinse of the toy to remove all traces of bleach.

5. Toy is air dried and ready for stuffing!

If you have any questions, concerns or recommendations concerning our cleaning process please contact us at: