Disinfecting For Dog Breeders: Beating Both Parvovirus and Coronavirus
What an interesting turn of events! Usually, dog breeders are trying to protect their puppies from viruses, like parvo and distemper, that might be brought in by other people or dogs. But now breeders are also trying to protect themselves from this new virus that might be brought in by other people. and possibly spread on their dogs’ coats.
Given all that, let’s talk about breeder biosecurity during this pandemic and beyond, specifically disinfecting our homes and kennels.
Novel Coronavirus vs Canine Coronavirus vs Parvovirus
We have three or four common viruses that we as dog breeders must understand: parvovirus, distemper, canine coronavirus, and the novel human coronavirus. Let’s go through them.Dogs have had their own coronavirus called canine coronavirus or CCoV. It causes intestinal disease but rarely becomes severe. We have a CCoV vaccine available but I’d guess that fewer than half of us vaccinate our dogs with it.
This recent pandemic is caused by a novel or new coronavirus, SAR-COV2. SAR-COV2 causes the disease, COVID-19, that is making so many people sick. These two diseases, COVID-19 and CCoV may be in the same family but they are unrelated to each other. Our focus today will be on COVID-19 and how we use what we are doing while breeding our dogs and raising our puppies to keep everyone around them safe.
Through this coronavirus pandemic, we can’t forget about distemper and canine parvovirus (CPv). For most of us, distemper is the least of our concerns since it isn’t common in most parts of the world. However, CPv is a very powerful virus that continues to kill dogs and puppies. Parvoviruses are much harder to kill than coronaviruses and are resistant to common disinfectants like soap and alcohol. So dog breeders will do best to use those products that kill both parvo and corona, thus keeping themselves and their puppies safe.
Keep Doing What You Have Been Doing
First, the good news. Most dog breeders already focus intensely on biosecurity, even if they don’t call it that. Common biosecurity actions include limiting who can get near puppies, cleaning with disinfectants, washing hands constantly, changing clothes after going to shows or the vets, and requiring all shoes stay outside of their puppyrooms or even homes. All of these actions will stand us in good stead now as we try to protect ourselves, our families, vets, fellow breeders, and buyers but we now have to up our game.
Cleaning vs Disinfecting
Remember cleaning and disinfecting are two different steps in the process. Cleaning is the removal of material, such as urine, feces, and dirt with water and detergent. Cleaning doesn’t kill pathogens but it removes them or at least reduces their numbers.
Disinfectants are products that kill pathogens, like bacteria and viruses. Some of the disinfectants we already use for parvovirus also kill the virus that causes COVID-19. The EPA has published and continues to update a list of effective disinfectants.
A few important reminders.
- All of these products have meaningful expiration dates EVEN IF UNOPENED and begin to lose efficacy after opening. Pay attention to expiration dates and close containers tightly after opening.
- The surface being disinfected must remain wet with the disinfectant for a set period of time identified on the label, usually 4-10 minutes.
- After that, you can remove excess disinfectant but allow some of the product to air dry.
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Here are the products we use and recommend
Many dog breeders are well prepared to clean and disinfect their homes since they’ve been doing it for pups. Supply is a challenge now but here are three products that have long histories in dog-breeding programs so, when used correctly, are safe and effective.
Activated Hydrogen Peroxide
The safest disinfectants for dogs and pups are activated or accelerated hydrogen peroxide products. Activated hydrogen peroxide is not the common form found in your local drug store. That 3% hydrogen peroxide can kill pathogens but it takes a long time, up to 6 hours, to do so.
Activated hydrogen peroxide is made by blending commonly used safe ingredients with hydrogen peroxide to dramatically increase its germicidal potency. This results in a safe and effective disinfectant that doesn’t require rinsing or much time to work. Products using this technology include:
- Virox’s Accel TB, also known as Rescue (Amazon | Revival)
- Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner Disinfectant Wipes
(At the time of this writing, only Accel is available online in the US in gallon containers and larger. However, you can submit your email to Amazon and Revival to be notified when they are available. Canadian readers—if you have an online source for these products, send it to me at email@example.com and I’ll post it here.)
Household bleach, a 2 to 10 percent solution of sodium hypochlorite, is an effective disinfectant although not as safe as activated hydrogen peroxide for both dogs and people. It can be corrosive and harm your dogs’ skin, eyes, and lungs. As a result, always use bleach in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves when handling the product or solution. Bleach can also never be mixed with any product containing ammonia. Since urine contains ammonia, clean your areas very well before disinfecting with bleach.
However, in a 0.12% sodium hypochlorite solution is an effective disinfectant for coronavirus and parvo on bleach-safe surfaces, such as floors, bowls, whelping boxes, etc. Be sure to leave the mixture on the surface for at least 5 minutes before rinsing well. In addition to expiring a year after it’s made, once mixed, bleach solutions only last 24 hours so make your disinfectant fresh each day.
The most commonly available bleach is from Clorox, which offers a range of concentrations. If you are using another bleach product, check the label or with the company to find out its concentration.
- Clorox Regular – 5.25%
- Clorox Ultra – 6%
- Clorox Concentrated – 8.25%
To make a disinfecting solution, use the recipes below. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following recipes for regular (5-6% bleach, so both Clorox Regular and Ultra).
- 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water
- 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
Some dog breeders use a slightly stronger solution of 1 cup per gallon. Be very cautious of all bleach mixtures but especially this concentration. Don’t make a stronger mixture than this.
Although not yet tested on the SAR-COV2 virus, steam cleaning is an effective disinfectant for parvovirus and is thought to be effective on coronaviruses. If you currently steam clean your facilities, continue to do so. In combination with activated hydrogen peroxide or bleach, few viruses can survive.
What Disinfectants Not to Use
In addition to my above recommendations, there are a few disinfectants that I don’t think are appropriate at this time.
Quaternary Ammonia Products
I don’t recommend or use quaternary ammonia products by dog breeders, especially near pregnant bitches or puppies. There is some thought that QA may contribute to fading puppy syndrome. When we have other, safer products available, why not use them? However, some are on the EPA list of disinfectants effective against the coronavirus so check the list if you are committed to using QAs.
Alcohol and Soap
Finally, washing down small equipment with 70% or higher alcohol or soapy water for at least 20 seconds will kill or damage the coronavirus. However, according to the VCA, neither alcohol nor soap will kill the parvovirus so for puppy and dog facilities I’d encourage you to use the products above.
Distilled Vinegar and Other Natural Products
Although distilled vinegar and essential oils have long been used by dog breeders, there is no evidence that these products disinfect parvovirus or the new coronavirus. Furthermore, there is some concern among veterinarians that some essential oils are toxic to dogs. So use them carefully and select another more effective disinfectant during this pandemic.
Keep up your cleaning and disinfecting to keep both you and your pups safe. Be sure to read the labels and follow the directions carefully. Stay safe!
List N includes products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19.