If you’re like us, you have a ton of items that are exclusively used for your dog, from brushes and treats to toys and collars. Many of these items have expiration dates that you might not even be aware of, and some of them are simply ineffective or even potentially harmful products that should not be used in the first place.
The following list of six common items found in the homes of pet owners should be at the top of your toss-out list:
1. Prong collars
Pain should never be used as a motivator. Sure, pain will elicit a change in behavior, but with it comes a learned fear response. Behavior can be modified, but fear memories are stored in a different part of the brain and can never be truly “un-learned”. Teamwork and treat rewards work much better for dogs and will make you feel better too.
2. Plastic bowls
Lightweight plastic bowls are harder for your dog to manage. Plastic has a greasy feel that’s harder to clean, and the surface of plastic is more likely to have tiny scratches in it that can be a hiding place for bacteria, which can lead to facial irritation and infection. Instead, stick to stainless steel or ceramic bowls that have a bit of weight and stability.
3. Dull nail trimmers
There are tools specifically designed to make nail trimming easier. Most dog owners have a pair of these lying around, but if the blades become dull or blunt, they cannot trim effectively. A dulled trimmer crushes and tears the nails, teaching your dog that nail trimming is an uncomfortable exercise. Again, fear is a poor teacher, so it is best avoided whenever possible. If you decide to trim, use sharp trimmers that make clean cuts and make sure your dog is comfortable and rewarded.
4. Broken or chewed up toys
Destroyed toys are a hazard to your dog. Swallowing small bits and pieces can cause choking or create blockages in the intestines, both of which have life threatening consequences for your dog. Once a month, sort through your dog toys and chews and toss out any of them that are falling apart.
5. Old or outgrown collars
Worn collars are a source of odor and contamination, and collars that are too small make your dog uncomfortable and increase the risk of choking hazards. Toss out those old smelly collars, and be sure to purchase new collars as your dog grows up. Remember, you should be able to fit two fingers side by side between your dog’s neck and the collar.
6. Expired medications
It might be hard to let go of that ear medication that you think your dog might need again someday, especially if it was expensive. But expired medications can become ineffective or even toxic over time – using them is at best ineffective and at worst increases the risk of worsening your dog’s condition. IF you’re unsure whether a medication is still usable, ask your vet.