How Safe Are Secondhand Used Pet Supplies?

You want the best for your pet, but items such as beds, toys, food bowls, and cat climbing trees can be expensive. So, why not use preloved pet gear instead of buying everything brand-new?

Today, we live in a throwaway society where very few people “make do and mend” as they did in our grandparents’ day. Our habit of discarding our broken or tired items contributes massively to environmental issues. You can save yourself a lot of cash by using pet supplies that other people no longer need. By using secondhand pet products, you’re helping to reduce waste, so you’re also doing the environment a favor.

But it’s important to proceed with caution; you don’t want to expose your beloved pet to contaminated or unsafe products.

What Secondhand Pet Supplies Can You Use?

Take a trip to a yard sale, and you’ll see plenty of used pet products that you might consider buying, such as:

  • Beds
  • Toys
  • Food and water bowls
  • Crates and carriers
  • Leashes, harnesses, and collars
  • Clothing
  • Cat climbing trees
  • Fish tanks

You can find pretty much anything pet-related for sale on popular auction sites and advertised on your local paper’s classified pages.

How Safe Are Used Pet Supplies?

Vets are somewhat divided on the safety aspect of using secondhand pet products. However, most agree that some items can be reused safely, provided that you take the necessary precautions.

Safety First

If you’re planning on using anything made from plastic, always check the item thoroughly to ensure that there are no sharp edges that could harm your pet. Avoid anything that has rough or deeply scratched surfaces where bacteria could proliferate.

Before you purchase a cat carrier or dog crate, check that the item is in good condition. Metal and plastic crates should have no sharp points, cracks, missing screws, or weak joints that could affect the integrity of the crate. The carrying handle should fit properly and not be loose or damaged in any way. Note that most airlines insist that you use a new, approved travel crate, especially if your pet is traveling as cargo.

Fabric crates should have no tears or splits, and zip fastenings must operate smoothly and fasten securely.

Food and Water Bowls

Look very carefully at bowls for food and water before you buy them secondhand.

Metal and ceramic dishes are usually fine to use, provided you clean them thoroughly. Just check that there are no cracks or rust present before you buy. But avoid plastic bowls. Even hairline scratches and cracks in plastic can easily collect germs and debris that will find their way into your pet’s water and food.

Cats eating out of bowls

Clothing and Bedding

Some people love to dress their pets in cute costumes and fancy collars, and you can often find some secondhand bargains. Dog and cat beds can also present good bargains for pet owners. But make sure you check for rips or other damage that might present a choking hazard to your pet.

Before you expose your pet to these items, wash them in hot water and eco-friendly laundry products. You don’t want to pass ticks, fleas, or other parasites onto your furry friend!

Scent Marking

Dogs and cats habitually mark materials with their scent as a way of establishing a territory. So, have a good sniff of the article before you buy it. If the item passes the odor test, it’s probably safe to pick up. Dogs and cats have a much stronger sense of smell than humans, so if you can smell animals on the article, it’s a safe bet that your pet will, too.

Some cats and dogs have a reaction to something that already carries the scent of another animal and might use their own urine to try to overwrite the other creature’s scent. That’s why buying secondhand cat trees and scratching posts is often not a good idea.

Hygiene

Cleanliness is critical when it comes to using secondhand pet supplies. Millions of bacteria live in the mouths of our pets, and you don’t want your beloved canine companion or feline friend to pick up some unpleasant disease from a secondhand item.

Viruses and certain parasites can persist in the immediate environment for up to a whole month and used cat and dog items can provide a haven for fleas and flea eggs. To avoid bringing these unwanted hitchhikers into your home, be sure to disinfect or clean all used pet gear.

How To Clean Items Safely

You don’t need to use harsh chemicals that could harm your pet and the environment to clean used pet products effectively. Instead, try using Castile soap. Castile soap is a nontoxic, biodegradable soap that provides an effective natural alternative to dish soaps, floor cleaners, shampoo, and laundry detergent.

Vinegar is a natural disinfectant. So, by using vinegar in combination with Castile soap, you are cleaning and disinfecting your items simultaneously.

To Clean Solid Items …

To clean solid items, such as bowls and crates, mix ¼ cup of white vinegar with some hot water in a bucket and add a squeeze of Castile soap. Wipe down the item, taking care to get into all the nooks and crannies that could harbor bacteria, and then rinse the item thoroughly in hot water.

Place the washed item outside in direct sunlight to kill any remaining pathogens.

To Clean Fabric …

To wash fabric items, such as beds and pet clothes, combine one-part hot water with four parts Castile soap. Soak the items thoroughly, and then rinse in hot water. Air-dry the items, preferably in bright sunshine to kill off any remaining nasties.

African gray parrot playing with toy

Secondhand Pet Supplies – Do’s and Don’ts

Buying used pet products is a viable proposition that could save you cash while extending the useful life of items that might otherwise get tossed out. However, there are a few do’s and don’ts to be considered:

Do

  • Check all items for damage, especially dog crates and fish tanks.
  • Disinfect and thoroughly clean solid items to remove pathogens and harmful substances.
  • Wash bedding and secondhand pet clothes in pet-friendly cleaning products, and repair them if necessary. Parasites, such as fleas and worm eggs, and some viruses can remain active in items such as blankets and beds for many weeks.

Don’t

  • Food bowls present potential hygiene issues. Don’t use plastics or items that are cracked, as they can harbor bacteria.
  • Dog chew toys can harbor worm eggs, especially if used outside in your garden. We recommend that you discard any toys that have areas of chew damage.
  • Doggy odors can cling to objects, especially if the dog has marked them. That can be very off-putting for a new dog, so make sure that the secondhand object doesn’t reek of another dog before using it.

Use Secondhand Pet Supplies Safely

You can give your pet the best while you save money and help to lighten the load on landfills by using secondhand pet supplies.

Generally, used pet products are safe to use, provided that you check for damage and sharp edges that could harm your pet. You must also clean any used article thoroughly; we recommend using a pet-friendly product that won’t harm the environment.

About the Author

Tammi Avallone grew up in the countryside on her parents’ farm where animals, including dogs, always surrounded her. Tammi’s first love was a beautiful chocolate Labrador retriever named Toby, who enjoyed snacking on the farm’s fresh produce. Tammi is a writer and managing editor of FiveBarks.com.

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