Our dogs are like our children — well, sort of. In the sense that it’s our instinct to keep them safe and happy, they’re similar. But as much as you strive to keep your dog out of harm’s way, have you thought about how your household cleaning products could be affecting your dog’s health and happiness? We’re not just talking about keeping the bottles out of reach so they don’t try to turn them into a new chew toy.

How Your Products Affect Your Dog

If your dog is like most, they probably love to cover you with kisses when you get home from work. You might even find them licking other things, like your carpet, tables, chairs or worse — out of the toilet. Think about the chemicals in the cleaners you use on these surfaces on a monthly, weekly or sometimes daily basis. In addition to the dust and dirt, dogs are ingesting traces of those substances, which can be poisonous.

Luckily, there are easy lifestyle changes you can make to ensure you’re keeping your pup far away from a seemingly harmless bottle of multi-purpose spray — and the side effects that could come with it.

The Toilet Bowl Water Isn’t as Harmless as You Think

Many dogs have the unhealthy — and somewhat annoying — habit of drinking out of the toilet, and it could be more harmful to them than you think. What first starts out as a cute puppy stunt could actually cause burns in their mouth and throat if it goes too far.

Although typically your dog will only get a mild stomachache from a little too much toilet water, it’s best to keep the toilet seat down if they seem to always drink from it. You could also consider replacing a dog’s water bowl with a pet water fountain, as they could prefer fresh, running water — how spoiled!

Switch Out Your Products

There are several pet-friendly cleaning products on the market. Plus, they’ll keep your house squeaky clean. Some examples, with their average prices, include:

  • Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner, $4.09
  • Green Works Natural Biodegradable Wipes, $6.32
  • Nature’s Miracle Laundry Boost, $9.57
  • Nature’s Source Glass Cleaner, $3.80
  • Eco-Care Stain and Odor Remover, $4.31
  • Ecover Non-Chlorine Bleach, $5.62
  • Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Bathroom Cleaner, $3.59

These products are all free from phenols, isopropyl alcohol, formaldehyde, phthalates, bleach and perchloroethylene, all of which are ingredients in traditional household cleaners that can be dangerous to our four-legged friends. Be sure that your household products also avoid using tea tree oil, which can be fatal to your pet with as little as 10ml. If you have to use tea tree oil for a medical treatment, try to keep it out of reach of your pet and away from any surface your pet may walk on.

Make Your Own Household Cleaner

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you might consider making your own all-natural cleaning products at home. Here are some of our favorite recipes, along with their best uses:

  • Baking soda scrub: This scrub is perfect to use on your dog’s stainless steel, plastic or ceramic food and water bowls. Combine baking soda, warm water and salt to create a paste. Apply it to a sponge, scrub and rinse.
  • Lemon-fresh all-purpose cleaner: Clean your countertops, tables and any other surfaces in your home with this fresh, chemical-free cleaner. Pour three cups of very hot water into a spray bottle or bucket. Add two tablespoons of baking soda and let it dissolve completely. Then, add two tablespoons of pure lemon juice, mixing it well. Wipe your surfaces with a damp, clean cloth after spraying. After cleaning, pour any leftover mixture down the sink — it won’t hold overnight.
  • Vinegar carpet stain remover: Whether the stain came from your pet or a spilled drink, this mixture of salt and white vinegar can get keep your carpets looking like new.
    • For light stains, mix two tablespoons of salt and a half-cup of white vinegar until the salt dissolves. Soak a rag in the mixture and rub the stain. Let it dry, then vacuum.
    • For heavier stains, add two tablespoons of borax to the mixture and follow the same process.
    • For extremely tough or old stains, combine one tablespoon of white vinegar and one tablespoon of cornstarch. One the mixture turns to a thick paste, rub it into the carpet with a dry cloth. After two days, vacuum the area.

Surfaces that shouldn’t be exposed to lemon juice or vinegar include limestone, marble and travertine.

Keeping Your Dog Safe

Storing your household products in a cabinet or on a shelf won’t stop your dog from ingesting the leftover chemicals after your Sunday cleaning spree. No matter which route you decide to take to keep your home clean and your pet safe — replacing your products with pet-friendly cleaners or making your own — your dog’s health will benefit from it.

Bio: Emily Folk writes and blogs about pet health and care and wildlife conservation. You can check out more of her articles on her blog, Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter, @emilysfolk.