I’m the kind of person who washes their hands as soon as they get home. I drop my bags somewhere and go straight to the bathroom to lather up and kill ALL the germs.
Despite my general queasiness about dirt and germs, there is one thing in my home I’ve ignored for far too long. Sure, I wash my dog’s collar while she’s zooming around the house post-bath, wondering why in the world I would rid her of her deliciously earthy dog park smell. I gently scrub in between her Frito-y paws with a wet washcloth and some mild soap, and I even wipe down her jowls as she shoots side eye at me. But one thing I have overlooked, which I’m sure most other dog owners have too, is her leash.
It’s easy to forget to clean it. You only ever use it to go outside and, chances are, it’s not a light color that would show dirt easily. But I just realized that, in the seven years Lady has filled our home with joy and farts, I have never cleaned her leash. Or bought her a new one, for that matter.
It may be because we often think of leashes as a functional item, and less like an accessory. As long as it does its job, why should we replace it or think of maintaining it? It’s not like a collar that stays on your dog and gets funky after a romp at the park, or a dog bed that can get seriously stanky. But have you ever thought about all the nasties that could be hanging out on the leash that you handle every day?
Your dog’s leash is a veritable hot spot for nasty things that could make both you and your pup sick. Think of all the times your dog’s leash has been dragged on the floor, or at the dog park, where poop particles abound.
And what about all the bacteria that’s already on your hands? And then what about the times your dog has excitedly grabbed his leash in his mouth and asked for a walk? Your pup could be in danger of E. coli or salmonella poisoning, not to mention all the other nasties that live in poop.
So what can you do to avoid putting your pup and the rest of your family in harm’s way?
1. Clean your dog’s leash regularly.
I’ve found that a simple soaking in the hottest water possible for cloth leashes does the trick, along with a nice scrub using mild soap specifically for sensitive skin. I use the same castile soap I use to bathe Lady, making sure to rinse the leash thoroughly. You can also put some through the washing machine, like the hemp and brass Out Of My Box lead from See Scout Sleep.
I put mine in a mesh bag or pillowcase to avoid getting it wrapped around anything else, and then I just let it air dry. If you use a leather leash, you can wash off any mud or dirt and then apply a good quality leather conditioner that is safe for your pup.
2. Have several leashes on hand in case one needs to be disinfected after an accident.
The idea of having different leashes never occurred to me until I adopted my second dog, Biggie, but it’s a nice idea to have a backup leash for any times your dog’s main leash needs to be cleaned after a roll in mud or poop. The Honey Leash (modeled above by the darling @snoopingsara) by ZeeDog is durable, cute, and a bargain at under $20.
3. Buy leashes made of easy-to-clean materials.
Like rubber. You could even go for a waterproof one like the Funston Leash. At least you’ll know there won’t be any pee-soaked leashes in your future.
4. Try a light colored leash instead of a dark one.
Not that it’s any excuse, but I suspect one of the reasons I didn’t realize my dog’s leash is grody is because it’s black. I picked it specifically because it would hide any dirt. To fix that, I’ve decided to buy lighter colored leashes so that there’s a visible reminder that I need to give them a quick clean.
5. Get a hands-free leash.
I used to think these were only for dog walkers, but after trying one I’m hooked. The obvious bonus is you don’t have to touch it after picking up your dog’s poop, which means less chances to smear that sh*t on your leash.
6. Treat your dog’s leash like a fun accessory.
Your dog’s leash is an extension of you, so why not have fun with it? With all the adorable prints and colors available at pet stores and online, you don’t have to go for the plain nondescript black nylon leash anymore. The Banana Shake Leash by ZeeDog is anything but boring, and totally affordable at under $20.
To check out all the leashes shown above and more, be sure to sniff out the Wear section of BarkShop! There’s something for every pup and pup parent! 😛