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If you’ve ever been frustrated because your house smells a little too much like your pets, it might be because you never wash your pet beds. Think about it: Most people wash their sheets at least once a week (Martha Stewart recommends every other day, but who has the time — or the household staff — for that?). When we don’t wash our own bedding regularly, it starts to smell, well, stinky from an accumulation of body oils, hair, perspiration, dead skin cells and bacteria.
It’s the same for dogs and cats. And unlike us, they don’t wear clothing that protects them from odor-causing substances in the environment and they don't necessarily bathe every day. Instead, they spend a lot of time lying on the floor or on grass or dirt outdoors and, in the case of dogs, rolling in deliciously foul-smelling dead things to give themselves an aura of... something. Whatever it is, it’s attractive to other dogs, if not to us. And then they transfer those odors, oils and other substances to their pet beds — or to our beds, if they share them with us.
So while not washing your pets’ bedding doesn’t make you a bad pet owner — it takes a lot more than that, believe me — it may make you a pet owner whose home gets surreptitious (or just blatant) sniffs from guests. And while sleeping on a dirty bed generally isn’t going to kill your dog or cat, it can be the source of parasites, bacteria or viruses from other pets who share the same bedding.
Thanks to the prevalence of washers and dryers, though, the risks of sharing these pests and germs can be greatly reduced. Most pet beds these days are machine-washable or have covers that can be removed and washed. Make it a habit to throw your pets’ beds into the washer weekly. Unless the label says otherwise, wash them in hot water to help reduce or eliminate microbeasties, then dry them thoroughly to prevent mold or mildew from developing. You can toss many beds or covers in the dryer or let them get that nice, fresh smell from being dried in the sun. For beds that aren’t machine-washable, give them a weekly going-over with a vacuum cleaner or antibacterial wipes.
That's all it takes! There's a good chance your dog will stay cleaner, and your house will smell fresher.
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