Witnessing the birth of a litter of kittens or puppies is an amazing experience. While most female dogs and cats are excellent mothers and proficient at cleaning their puppies and kittens, it is also beneficial to the health of mother and babies to make sure they and their surroundings are clean and hygienic. Hypochlorous acid, HOCl, is a safe and gentle disinfectant that is not only used in dog grooming tools and cat grooming supplies, but is also an excellent tool for dog and cat breeding season and beyond. Read on to learn more about how HOCl can help keep your babies clean and healthy.
Why is Hygiene Important for Birthing and Beyond?
Puppy and kitten birthing is a messy process - there are bodily fluids, hair, and sometimes dirt to deal with. In addition, whelping and queening boxes (the boxes where mother dogs or cats give birth and care for their offspring after) get very dirty and smelly very quickly due to dirty paws, feces, urine, food, etc. It is very important to maintain a clean, hygienic environment for both mother and offspring during birthing and beyond because:
Keeping the Environment Sanitary. By keeping puppies, kittens, mother, and the birthing box clean by removing urine, feces, and using a gentle disinfectant like HOCl will minimize odors that can attract pests like rodents and insects. In addition, keeping a clean environment free of feces will reduce the likelihood that puppies or kittens accidentally ingest them.
Preventing the spread of disease. Viral diseases, like Parvovirus, bacteria, and parasites thrive in a dirty environment. This puts kittens, puppies, and their mother at risk for infections that cause sickness. If you are a commercial breeder, this can put your entire breeding business at risk.
Reduces stress. A dirty environment causes additional stress for animals, compromising their well being and putting their health at risk.
Supports healthy growth. Maintaining good hygiene helps to ensure that kittens and puppies are safe and comfortable, which will help them grow and develop normally.
How can HOCl be used During Breeding Season?
In addition to keeping the area where the puppies and kittens are kept clean and free of waste and odors, grooming wipes containing HOCl are a safe and easy way to keep mother and babies clean and healthy. There are multiple uses for HOCl during the breeding season:
- Breeding hygiene. HOCl wipes can be used to clean dogs before and after they mate, reducing the likelihood of spreading sexually transmitted diseases.
- Collecting hygiene. HOCl wipes can be used to clean male dogs before semen is collected from them.
- Artificial insemination cleaning. HOCl wipes can be used to clean female dogs before they are artificially inseminated.
- Pre-delivery cleaning. HOCl wipes are excellent for cleaning a female dog’s vulva before and during the birthing process.
- Post-delivery cleaning. After the mother is done delivering, HOCl wipes can be used to clean her off.
- Cleaning puppies and kittens once they are delivered. HOCl wipes can be used to wipe blood, birthing membranes, meconium, and any other bodily fluids off of puppies and kittens once they are delivered.
- Umbilical cord cleaning. After mom removes the umbilical cord, HOCl wipes can be used daily on the umbilical cord site to help it heal quickly.
- Cleaning mammary glands. HOCl wipes are excellent for cleaning the nipples of dogs and cats that are nursing. This can help prevent mammary gland infections called mastitis. Cleaning nipples should only be done when the mother is away from the puppies and kittens for 10 minutes or more to allow the product to dry before the babies nurse again.
- Cleaning the mother’s paws. Nursing mother dogs still need to go outside to eliminate, sniff, and be by themselves for a little bit. When they go back into the box they can track dirt back into the box. This problem can be eliminated by wiping their paws off with HOCl wipes before they go back into the box.
- Teaching puppies and kittens how to groom. Wiping kittens with HOCl wipes can be an excellent way to get them introduced to grooming at a young age.
- Can help with puppy pyoderma. Sometimes puppies get a superficial skin infection that looks like pimples on their belly due to their immature immune system. HOCl wipes can reduce symptoms associated with puppy pyoderma and in some cases, completely eliminate it completely. If you aren’t noticing improvement in your puppy’s skin after using the wipes for a couple of days, call your veterinarian.
- Grooming foster kittens. Young kittens must be licked by their mother after they eat to be able to urinate or defecate. If you are caring for orphan kittens or the kitten’s mother isn’t grooming them after they eat, you can HOCl wipes to wipe them ‘back there’ to stimulate the kittens to urinate and defecate.
- Wiping puppy and kitten eyes. Wiping their eyelids daily with a HOCl wipe can help keep them clean and free of debris. This can be particularly helpful with young kittens that may be exposed to viral or bacterial infections that cause conjunctivitis. If you notice eyes that are red, have colored (green or yellow) discharge, or excessive tearing or squinting these are signs of an eye infection - call your veterinarian.
- Keeping puppies and kittens clean for visits with new families. Whelping and queening boxes often contain litter or pellets that can get the coats of puppies and kittens dirty. In addition, puppies and kittens are very messy when they eat, and they don’t mind walking through their own urine or feces. Wiping them daily with a HOCl will ensure their coat stays clean and shiny for socialization visits.
As you can see, HOCl grooming wipes are versatile grooming tools that can be invaluable during the breeding and after delivery. Products containing pure, stabilized HOCl should be included in every whelping and queening kit because this disinfectant kills potentially harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and is safe and gentle enough to be used on newborn animals.
Status Report on Topical Hypochlorous Acid: Clinical Relevance of Specific Formulations, Potential Modes of Action, and Study Outcomes. James Q. Del Rosso, DO and Neal Bhatia, MD. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2018 Nov; 11(11): 36–39. Published online 2018 Nov 1.
Diluted sodium hypochlorite in dogs: antiseptic efficacy, local tolerability and in vitro effect on skin barrier function and inflammation Frane Banovic, Thierry Olivry, Wolfgang Bäumer, Judy Paps, Jessica Stahl, Ana Rogers, Megan Jacob. Veterinary Dermatology. Presented at the North American Veterinary Dermatology Forum, 2017, Orlando, FL. Vet Dermatol 2017. First published: 14 September 2017 https://doi.org/10.1111/vde.12487.
Status Report on Topical Hypochlorous Acid: Clinical Relevance of Specific Formulations, Potential Modes of Action, and Study Outcomes. James Q. Del Rosso, DO and Neal Bhatia, MD. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2018;11(11):36–39.
About the Author:
Sarah J. Wooten, DVM, CVJ
Dr. Sarah Wooten is a well known international influencer in the veterinary and animal health care spaces. She has 16 years experience in private practice and over 10 years experience in veterinary media work, and is a certified veterinary journalist.
She is passionate about helping pet parents learn how to care better for their fur friends, and has written thousands of web articles and filmed hundreds of videos about pet care and the human-animal bond. She has appeared on radio, podcasts, and multiple television news broadcasts across the country in her role as a veterinary expert, and has been featured in several magazines in the same role.
Dr. Wooten speaks to veterinary continuing education audiences about leadership, client communication, and personal development.She is also a co-creator of the wildly popular card game 'Vets Against Insanity'.
In her spare time, she can be found skiing, fly fishing, golfing, and paddle boarding. Life is meant to be lived, so go out there and have some fun! To see what else she has up her sleeve, visit drsarahwooten.com.