Blog By Lisa McAuliffe
Your dog’s outdoor kennel is designed to be their own special designated space, and a comfortable sanctuary where they can relax, unwind and stay protected from the elements. Outdoor kennels are as great for pets as they are for owners. Dogs can enjoy a larger covered area, where they can get some fresh air, and owners can give their pets their own space outside of the hustle and bustle of their home.
Here at Horizon Structures, we know that a high-quality, weather-resistant outdoor kennel is a must-have, but it’s only half the battle. You also need to make sure you are keeping that kennel clean and healthy for your pet. Cleaning an outdoor kennel comes with a few different challenges, but with the right materials and a set routine, you can make sure your dog’s outdoor space is safe and sanitary.
1. Set Your Kennel Up for Success
The way you set up your kennel can make all the difference in how easy it is to clean. One of the simplest ways to make your kennel cleaning process simpler, is to place your dog’s bowls and bed at the front of the kennel.
Dogs don’t like to eliminate waste near where they eat and sleep. If you use your hose to spray from the front to the back of the kennel while cleaning, then you don’t have to worry about dirty water getting all over your pet’s beds or bowls. Encouraging your dog to keep this area free from waste can have other benefits as well. It can reduce the chances of your dog, or you, stepping in waste right when walking into the kennel.
This small fix can make a big difference in how easy it is to clean out your dog’s space. You should also make sure that everything you put in your dog’s kennel from their bed to their bowls and even their toys are weather resistant and easy to clean with a hose and disinfecting product.
2. Safety, Safety, Safety
Always remember safety first when you are cleaning your dog’s kennel. This is true whether you are cleaning out your personal pet’s kennel, or if you are cleaning kennels for a rescue or breeder. Effective cleaning means dealing with chemicals, so you want to take the extra steps in order to keep yourself and your animal safe.
Before you get started, remove your dog from the area you are cleaning, never try to clean your dog’s kennel when they are in it. Always wear the appropriate protective clothing, including close-toed shoes, long pants and gloves before you start cleaning.
Check the chemical interactions between the products you are planning on using. For example, mixing bleach or chlorine products with ammonia cleaners can cause serious chemical reactions that can harm you and your pet.
Once you are done cleaning, make sure you allow the areas to dry completely before you reintroduce your pet into their freshly cleaned space.
3. Select the Right Cleaning Product
The right cleaner is paramount not only in keeping your dog’s kennel clean, but in keeping your dog safe as well. There are many dog owners who think that the stronger the solution, the better, but you need to make sure that this product won’t harm or irritate your canine companion.
It is easy to think that adding more disinfectant is the key when cleaning your dog’s space. Unfortunately, this isn’t true and too much of a sanitizing product may actually burn or otherwise harm your dog. Dilute your disinfecting product properly before using it around your pet.
Do not use ammonia-based cleaners in kennels, especially if you are rotating dogs in different kennels or have multiple dogs in the home. Ammonia has a similar smell to urine, and that smell may accidentally trigger your dog to urinate in his kennel.
When in doubt, always go with a natural kennel cleaning product specifically made for dogs. These products will not only help with cleaning and odor-control, but they are made specifically to be safe around animals.
Physically cleaning out your dog’s kennel is important, but you also need to put equal emphasis on your cleaning tools. After you use scrub brushes, squeegees or mop heads, make sure that you are sanitizing these items properly before you use them again, or use them in a different space.
4. Choose the Right Bed and Bedding
Your dog’s kennel needs to have the right bedding in it, so your pet can stay as comfortable as possible. The easiest type of bed to add to an outdoor space is a raised mesh cot instead of a typical foam or cotton bed. These beds will keep your dog elevated off the ground, allowing for airflow, making it a comfortable option in the warmer months. These cots are also weather-resistant and easy to clean.
There are many dog owners who also want to outfit the indoor kennel box portion of their dog’s kennel with bedding that will help keep them warm particularly in the winter months. The bedding you choose for this area of the kennel should help insulate their space and keep them warm but be wary of certain materials that could potentially create an unhealthy environment for your canine companion.
Try to stick with grass, pine or cedar shavings for warmth if possible. Wood shavings naturally repel fleas and insects, while hay can be a breeding ground for parasites and mange. Cloth bedding is great for your dog’s indoor crate, but for outdoor kennel boxes, it can create a damp, moist environment that can be a breeding ground for fungus, germs and bacteria.
5. Keep Frequency in Mind
While cleaning out your dog’s kennel may not be the most exciting chore on your list, it is one that you need to keep up with regularly. The longer a surface in your pet’s kennel is left without cleaning, the more time viruses and germs have to grow and reproduce.
This is particularly important if you have two or more dogs or if your dog frequently socializes with other animals.
It can take weeks for the symptoms of an illness like distemper to appear, so you don’t know for certain that your outdoor kennel isn’t a breeding ground for harmful diseases. This is why it is important that you deep clean your outdoor kennel at least once per week.
In between deep cleanings, you should always spot clean messes. Remember, before you use a sanitizer or disinfectant, make sure you get rid of any visible grime or waste, so that the sanitizing products can really penetrate the surface and give you a deep clean.
Unfortunately, many times, outdoor kennels don’t get the same attention as indoor spaces. Just because a kennel is outdoors, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need regular cleaning. Pay attention to the products you use, keep frequency in mind and set your outdoor kennel up for success, and your dog’s outdoor kennel will continue to be a safe and healthy place for your four-legged friend.