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In 2014, I decided to start sharing my journey as a raw feeder. I had been feeding my dogs a raw food diet for a year and wrote about what I had learned as part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Looking back, I cringe at how little I knew about raw feeding and decided to update each of those blog posts in 2018-19.
When my boyfriend and I became dog parents, we made an agreement. I took the lead with the dogs (diet, veterinarian, training, etc.) and he took the lead with the house and yard. In the past eight-plus years, we've increased to a four dog home, we have two freezers filled with raw dog and cat food, and my boyfriend knows to fill me in on poop consistency. And our property is now a beautiful five usable acres (we started with two), we have several ponds, and there is a plan for a brick patio with firepit and a shop. It's call compromise.
Despite the compromise we've managed, my boyfriend still has concerns about the increased bacteria in the home because we feed a raw food diet. It doesn't matter that raw is species appropriate. It doesn't matter that we walk bacteria in the home daily. It doesn't matter that I clean the kitchen after meal prep. I'm convinced that all my boyfriend sees is bacteria crawling over every surface in the house.
Despite his continued misgivings, he supports me in feeding our pets a raw diet and I created a cleaning routine that keeps him from fearing a household outbreak of ecoli.
Naturally Cleaning Countertops
When I started feeding raw, I cleaned the countertops with a bleach/water mixture. Today, I have a water/white vinegar mixtures (50/50) that I use to clean all countertops. Johan isn't a fan of the vinegar smell, so I clean when he's not in the room. I have also found that mixing in a few drops of my favorite essential oils for cleaning improve the smell too.
Naturally Cleaning Floors
We have a mixture of hardwood and tile floors in our home and I clean them the same; with hot water, vinegar, and my favorite essential oil for cleaning (see list above). Sometimes, for the floors, I also use an oil by Plant Therapy called Germ Fighter. It's similar to Thieves, an oil produced by Young Living that I loved. The entire house smells amazing, I'm not worried about my dogs' paw pads absorbing toxic chemicals that are ingredients in many
I clean our floors every other day.
Naturally Cleaning Dog Dishes
Our dogs and cat eat from stainless steel dishes. Most days, I wash them by hand using dish detergent. We use Dawn – not a natural product, but effective and nice to have on hand if the dogs have a run in with a skunk. And several days a week, we put the dog and cat dishes in the dishwasher for an even better clean
When I was new to raw feeding, people told me not to clean the dishes so much; a dirty dish improves our dogs' immune systems. I don't know if this is true or not and since it's not a lot of extra work to clean the dishes, I clean the dishes. If I'm low on time or exhausted and feeling too lazy to wash dishes, I mist them with a mixture of water and vinegar and let them air dry on the countertop.
Best Dishes for Raw Feeding
Neater Pet Brands Stainless Steel Dog and Cat Dishes – these are made for the Neater Feeders, but they also fit in our other raised dog dishes. I like the wide lip (just personal preference), these are dishwasher safe. The Neater Pet Brand dishes come in various sizes, so I can get smaller sizes for Cosmo.
Rubbermaid Storage Containers – I use these for meal prep and storing bone broth, fermented vegetables, and golden paste in the freezer. Freezer-safe glass containers would be better but I haven't found any that were a good match for my budget so I started with plastic. Billy Hoekman of Answers Pet Food shared a great tip about storing in plastic – wrap the food in parchment paper before putting it into plastic, to protect the food.
Naturally Bathing the Dogs
Dogs shed salmonella; they do this no matter the diet – kibble or raw. But apparently, it's not enough to kill humans since dogs are man's (in this case, woman's) best friend. I sleep with our dogs, hug, cuddle, kiss, and love on our dogs daily with no fear of salmonella or any other bacteria. However, there are days when stink. Zoey rolled on a dead snake, Sydney has a doggy smell, Rodrigo got to close to a skunk, or Scout found the leftover kill of local wildlife. Whatever the case may be, our dogs need baths from time to time and I only trust 4-Legger dog shampoo (and other products) with my dogs.
Using Distilled White Vinegar
When choosing a vinegar product for cleaning, avoid the economy brands because they tend to be watered down and less effective. And keep in mind that vinegar may not be the best choice some countertop or floors. Since learning about the effectiveness of white vinegar, I now use it as follows:
- Freshen a Room After Feeding Tripe: When the smell of green tripe (or a skunked dog) has filled your kitchen, pour 1 cup of white vinegar in a bowl and sit overnight in the room. Pour the vinegar down the garbage disposal (it cleans orders there too).
- Clean the Garbage Disposal after Meal Prep: Pour 1 cup of vinegar down the garbage disposal to clear out odors; rinse with water from the drain after about an hour.
- Clean Cooler After Thawing Raw: Use a mixture of 50% vinegar and 50% and poor in the cooler; let sit for a few hours, then rinse with clean water.