When to Say Goodbye To Your Dog’s Beds, Bowls, and Toys

dog next to chewed bed.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

If you’re a dog owner, you know that your furry friend’s bed, bowl, and toys are more than just pet accessories; they’re part of their daily life and happiness. Just like us, our dogs form attachments to their things. But have you ever stopped to consider the condition of these cherished items?

It’s easy to overlook, but the wear and tear on your dog’s belongings can have real implications for their health and well-being. From the hidden dangers lurking in a well-loved toy to the unseen bacteria colonizing an old water bowl, the risks are real. The state of your dog’s gear might be telling a story you hadn’t considered, one of comfort compromised and safety sidelined.

But fear not, this article is your guide to navigating the when, why, and how of updating your dog’s essentials. We’ll dive into the signs that it’s time for a refresh, offer practical tips for maintaining and cleaning, and even explore how to give these items a second life. So, prepare to give your dog’s space the revamp it might sorely need.

Dog Beds: A Foundation of Comfort

dog laying on bed.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

When to Replace

You might wonder, “How often should you replace a dog bed?” The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all, but there are clear signs its time to move on. If the bed starts to lose its shape, becomes a haven for unpleasant odors, or shows signs of wear and tear (like my dog Harvey’s bed after he decided it was also a chew toy), it’s time for an upgrade.

When to Update

Regular washing can extend a dog bed life, but a bed that no longer provides proper support isn’t doing your dog any favors. Much like their human counterparts, as our dogs age their needs change. Orthopedic dog beds are specifically designed to help older dogs cope with hip issues and other age related pains from too many years of chasing squirrels. 

I once kept a dog bed well past its prime because it was expensive, and my pitty, Harvey, seemed so attached to it. However, when he started waking up stiff in the mornings, I knew it was time to switch to a new, supportive bed. The switch made a world of difference in his mobility and overall mood.

Dog Bowls: The Daily Dining Experience

dog being fed by girl from bowl.
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Keeping It Clean

Dog bowls are breeding grounds for bacteria, especially if not cleaned regularly. How often to wash dog bowls is a common question, and I recommend daily cleaning. 

Yes, you can wash dog bowls with dish soap, but for a more natural approach, cleaning dog bowls with vinegar is effective and non-toxic. Just soak them in a mix of vinegar and water and say goodbye to that slimy buildup. How to keep the dog water bowl from getting slimy? Regular vinegar treatments and ensuring fresh water daily does the trick.

Rubber Dog Dishes

Rubber dog dishes can be a good alternative, offering durability and ease of cleaning. Just ensure they’re heavy enough that your dog won’t turn them into a chew toy during meal times.

Slow Feeder Bowl Cleaning Tips

Harvey was having some digestive issues and after a visit to the vet we all decided the least invasive solution was trying to get him to slow down his consumption. This led to us trying a slow feeder bowl. These bowls are designed to reduce the speed at which dogs consume food by forcing them to navigate around objects in the bowl. However, the obstacles in the bowl can make it difficult to clean. The solution to this problem is to use a brush to clean it occasionally. Although I highly recommend slow feeder bowls, they require more effort to clean than regular bowls, but are effective in getting your dog to slow down their eating.

Tip: Buy a second bowl. This allows one bowl time to soak or be cleaned while the other is in use. It also makes it easy to pack one away for travel.

Toys: The Key to Entertainment, Exercise and Slobber

puppy chewing on ball.
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Wash and Replace Regularly

Should you wash dog toys? Absolutely. Several studies list dog toys as one of top items harboring germs in your home. Dog toys can carry mold and bacteria that then gets transferred to your dog. So not only is it wise to clean your dog toys for your pooches protection, but if they give you a kiss, they could be sharing more than their affection with you.

How to Wash Dog Toys

Letting your dog’s toys accumulate bacteria can turn your home into a breeding ground for germs. However, the cleaning process isn’t without its pitfalls. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association using harsh chemicals like bleach and certain detergents can lead to health issues such as upset stomachs and even chemical burns in pets.

The good news is, there’s an abundance of safe cleaning options available for pet owners. It’s wise to consult with a vet or a knowledgeable staff member at your local pet store to ensure the safety of any cleaning product.

Cleaning Plush Dog Toys

For washing soft or plush dog toys, it’s crucial to either choose a detergent that’s specifically safe for pets or to forgo detergent altogether. Hand washing these toys with a mixture of 50% water and 50% vinegar is a gentle yet effective alternative. Once cleaned, these toys should be left to air-dry or can be tumble dried without the use of fabric softener sheets.

Ensuring that these plush toys are thoroughly dried before giving them back to your dog or putting them away is essential to prevent mold growth. Complete drying is key to maintaining the safety and longevity of your pet’s favorite soft toys.

Cleaning Rubber or Plastic Toys

Although we use a dog safe cleaner we typically use it on Harvey’s bed, blanket, towels, and soft toys. This allows us to throw it all into the wash and do his “dog laundry.” As for his hard toys such as the rubber or plastic ones, we normally soak them in a natural cleaning mix such as baking soda or diluted apple cider vinegar. This is only done on the higher quality toys that we know are going to last a long time and Harvey seems to enjoy. This mixture can offer a safe and effective alternative to harsh chemicals, ensuring that your dog’s toys are not only clean but also free from potentially harmful residues.

How Often to Wash Dog Toys

How often to wash dog toys depends on usage, but a good rule of thumb is every couple of weeks or when they look grimy. Consider adopting a rotation system. Like we mentioned for our dog bowl, whenever Harvey gets a new toy we usually buy two. Having duplicates of your dog’s preferred toys allows one set to be cleaned and dried thoroughly, while the other set is in use. This rotation ensures that your dog always has access to safe and clean toys, minimizing any disruption to their playtime routine.

When to Let Go

Ask yourself this question, is a $20 or less dog toy going to cost you more than a visit to the vet office for issues related to swallowing a piece of a toy? That question alone should direct you to making the easy choice of tossing the toy in the garbage.

Toys with missing pieces or those that have become too small pose choking hazards. If you think, “could my dog get that piece off and choke on it,” then it’s time to let it go. I do however institute the “trimming” method. Using a sharp pair of scissors to remove hanging pieces from the dog toy. But eventually, all dog toys go beyond repair, at which point it’s safer to replace them. 

Selling and Donating Used Dog Items

A Second Life

Believe it or not, there’s a market for gently used dog items. Beds, crates (like those sturdy furniture dog crates), and even certain toys can find a second home. Before you consider throwing out, think about selling or even donating these items. 

Shoppers often look for unique items, and while it’s not common, some might be interested in high-quality pet items. At the same time, local shelters typically take any donations they can get, so long as the item is only lightly used. Both methods are an eco-friendly and wallet-friendly solution.

Out With The Old In With The New

dog playing with toy
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Remember, the comfort and health of your canine companion should always be a priority. Keeping their beds, bowls, and toys in top condition plays a huge part in their overall well-being. As much as we might get attached to their little belongings, sometimes it’s necessary to let go for the sake of their health. Regular updates and cleaning will ensure your dog remains happy, healthy, and full of life.

Corey Turner
Corey Turner, owner of FurBallFun.com, draws on a lifelong love for dogs and extensive pet ownership to offer a unique perspective in the pet industry. With a successful background in project management, he excels in critical analysis, precise attention to detail, and quality assurance. This expertise allows him to effectively differentiate true value from marketing hype in the pet sector. Corey’s contributions have been featured in various publications including Rockery Press Guide Books and WealthofGeeks.com. During his free time, he enjoys disc golfing, rock climbing, and bonding with his cherished FurBall friend, Harvey.