Eco-friendly cleaning services for veterinarian hospitals and clinics are critical to ensuring the health and safety of pets, their owners, and the staff who occupy the facility.
Cleaning Challenges in Veterinary Hospitals and Clinics
Veterinary hospitals and clinics pose unique challenges to pet owners, occupants, and custodial teams.
Domesticated animals carry germs that can rapidly transmit from one pet to another, or from the animal to humans--some of which are extremely dangerous to both, specifically, enterococci, a form of streptococci bacteria, of the genus Enterococcus, that inhabit the human gastrointestinal tract and have high resistance to antibiotics.
According to a 2012 publication in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, which analyzed surfaces in ten small animal veterinary hospitals;
Among the 10 hospitals, enterococci were isolated from cage doors in 7, from stethoscopes in 7, from thermometers in 6, and from mouth gags in 1; contamination with species of Enterobacteriaceae was rare.
Enterococci were mainly represented by Enterococcus faecium (35.4%), Enterococcus faecalis (33.2%), and Enterococcus hirae (28.3%).
Antimicrobial resistance was common in E faecium, whereas virulence traits were present in 99% of E faecalis isolates but not in E faecium isolates.
Clonal multidrug-resistant E faecium was isolated from several surfaces at 1 hospital over multiple visits, whereas sporadic nonclonal contamination was detected in other hospitals.
The challenges increase in clinics where, unlike human hospitals, treatment and examination rooms, and equipment are not cleaned or disinfected in between patient visits.
According to Clorox Pro;
In busy facilities, cleaning and disinfection tasks can get overlooked.
In fact, in a recent study, 30% of hospitals did not clean cages between patients.
The Issue of Veterinary Hospital-Acquired Infections
Pet health care and grooming services have increased in the United States significantly over the last few years.
According to Kaivac;
The American Pet Products Association estimates that total pet expenditures for 2015 was $60.50 billion, up from $58.04 billion the year before.
A large portion of that total, $15.73 billion went to vet care while another $5.24 billion went to vet services like grooming and boarding.
However, the increased level of spending and care comes with higher expectations regarding service levels, something that is demonstrably lacking in many small animal care clinics.
Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), something more commonly associated with human clinics and hospitals, is a significant concern.
Further, while studies into veterinary HAIs are severely lacking, it is believed the issue is on the rise.
Two of the most common HAIs are:
- Canine Parvovirus (Parvo) - A devastating illness that can infect even vaccinated dogs, but is most commonly found in puppies four months and younger, or unvaccinated canines. It is spread via contaminated feces, surfaces, and from people to pets. It is easily transferred on the fur and feet of animals, can survive for long periods on nearly any surface, is contagious in even trace amounts of feces, as well as being resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying, and;
- Feline Leukemia (FeLV) - FeLV is second only to trauma as the leading cause of death in felines, responsible for a death rate of 85% of cats where the disease remains persistent. While it is unlikely that your cat will acquire FeLV in a veterinary office, it is entirely possible that it can acquire the disease in a kennel where littler boxes or water bowls are shared. That said, a sufficiently advanced case of FeLV will leave weakened immune systems, especially in older cats, leaving them vulnerable to numerous germs they would generally be able to fight off, but are commonly found on surfaces within veterinary offices.
Treatment for these illnesses is expensive and often unsuccessful, underscoring the importance of high-performance cleaning and disinfection services for all pet care facilities and service providers.
The Benefits of Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Practices in Veterinary Hospitals and Clinics
When assessing your veterinary facilities' infection prevention and control methods, something to keep in mind is the safety and effectiveness of the products being employed.
Conventional commercial cleaning products not only pose hazards to humans, but can present significant health hazards for pets.
Take, for instance, one of the most commonly used products in home and commercial cleaning--bleach.
Anyone who has spent any time around a significant number of cats has likely noted that certain felines have an odd, yet pervasive attraction to bleach.
Over-inhalation of the fumes can lead to:
- Irritation of the mucous membranes.
- Vomiting, and;
- Respiratory distress.
Consumption of bleach can lead to severe reactions and potential death.
Something else to keep an eye out for is all-purpose cleaners containing 2-butoxyethanol.
According to Blue and Green Tomorrow;
The most common primary ingredient in almost all multi-purpose house cleaning products is 2-butoxyethanol.
It is derived from crude oil, and overexposure can lead to intoxication and irritations of nose and eyes.
It’s more dangerous to pregnant animals and leads to birth defects.
It doesn’t smell harmful; instead it smells very sweet. That’s why animals are attracted to it, so it would seem best if you avoid products that contain this type of ingredient.
Conversely, environmentally-friendly or green cleaning products do not contain any chemical that is harmful to animals, humans, or the environment.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have tested and listed numerous products considered safe for use in cleaning and disinfecting in healthcare environments that will meet or exceed the requirements of a veterinary hospital or clinic.
References & Resources
- Canine Parvovirus
- Facts About Feline Leukemia Virus
- Keep Your Pet Safe From Infections Acquired in Veterinary Hospitals
- Disinfection protocols: A clean start
The demands for high-quality pet care are on the rise and, with that, comes an increasing demand from pet-parents that veterinary and grooming service providers present a clean, safe, and hygienic environment for the care of their fur babies.
Unfortunately, due to several factors, including a lack of scientific research into the matter, many facilities have failed to provide necessary levels of disinfection to protect their patients.
Fortunately, significant changes do not have to be employed.
Implementing standardized infection prevention and control measures already the norm in human hospitals is more than sufficient to provide the type of protection needed.
Outsourcing to a vendor experienced in custodial healthcare services and green cleaning practices is a proven method for cost-effective onboarding and maintaining the necessary level of hygiene required to protect pet-patients, occupants, and staff members.
If you would like further information regarding the health and safety benefits of environmentally friendly green cleaning services for veterinarian hospitals and clinics, or if you would like to schedule a free, no-obligation onsite walkthrough to assess your facilities' infection prevention and control needs, contact us today for a free quote!
In Bakersfield CA, call (661) 437-3253
In Fresno CA, call (559) 206-1059
In Valencia CA, or Santa Clarita CA, call (661) 437-3253