January 2020

In today’s VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog, Amy Newfield, CVT, VTS (ECC) reviews how to clean a veterinary cage – it’s harder than you think!

How to clean a veterinary cage: Harder than you think!
By Amy Newfield, CVT, VTS (ECC)

The cage at the veterinary hospital is a hotbed of dirt and disease. I personally have had experience where a parvovirus puppy was hospitalized at a hospital and at discharge the cage was not properly cleaned. Fast forward one day later when another puppy with kennel cough was hospitalized in the same cage. The kennel cough puppy came down with parvovirus only one week later after it had visited the hospital. Likely it had contracted it by being in the same cage the parvo puppy had just 24 hours earlier.

Step One:
• Wear Gloves! I often see veterinary team members cleanings cages with their bare hands. Veterinary patients carry plenty of zoonotic diseases, not to mention that bare-handling poop, urine or vomit is gross! You may think they left the cage “clean”, but they were walking outside at the veterinary hospital which is a landmine of poop and urine. Yes, I do know a technician who got roundworms. Wear gloves when you clean any cage!

Step Two:
• How many sides do you need to clean? All of them! There are SIX sides to all cages: Four walls inside the cage (left, right, top, bottom) and then the front of the door and the inside (back) of the door.
• After you have put on gloves, grab paper towels and your hospital’s disinfectant.
• Spray down ALL six sides of the cage. Remember that if you are spraying the front or back of the cage door make sure the spray doesn’t get sprayed into a neighboring cage where a pet is housed. You may need to soak the paper towel with the disinfectant and then wipe down the bars of the cage door.
• Remember that you need to clean ALL areas of the cage. The corners in the large dog run (mopping the floor of a big kennel is a step that can be done in lieu of spraying), ALL the bars of a big cage (top to bottom), the latches and the handles.

Step Three:
• Wait! Each disinfectant requires a certain amount of contact time. Too many times I see a veterinary team member spray and immediately wipe, not allowing for any contact time. Please check with the manufacturer of the disinfectant or read the instructions on the disinfectant to see what the appropriate contact time for the product you have in the hospital.

In this VETgirl online veterinary CE blog, we discuss how to appropriately disinfect a veterinary cage.
Step Four:
• Wipe up the residual or spray again to remove “streaking” that the disinfectant left on the first spray.

Step Five:
• Close the cage door and it’s ready for the next patient!

While there are not many steps, the steps that get often missed are:
• Cleaning all 6 sides (the door or top of the cage is often missed or barely done yet that’s where pets put their noses through, paws through and breathe on)
• Wearing gloves
• Contact time

Cleaning a cage properly takes 5-20 minutes depending on your disinfectant’s contact time and the size of the cage. While it is easy to rush through the process, please remember the story of the parvo puppy. Proper cleaning would have prevented the second puppy from contracting parvo from the cage. It’s simple to do, but also one of the tasks that rarely is done properly. Clean cages save lives.

  1. Love that u posted this !! This is One of my top pet peeves in a veterinary hospital ..so many do just wipe both sides and bottom…u can NEVER b Too Clean !! Ty so much 🙂

  2. This is something I push when I teach my students and they look at me like I’m crazy until I have them read the bottles that tell them how much contact time they need. They have no clue!

  3. I wish there were disinfectants that were more efficient. Our has a contact time of 10min so yes it gets rushed through as with everything else in the practice it seems.

  4. I think the first step needs to be remove as much of the solid or liquid waste first. Then proceed to your step 1. I have seen many new people just spray over the top of piles of waste. We want to disinfect the cage not necessarily the pile of poop. The area below the poop was never cleaned…

  5. I never thought to spray the disinfectant on the rag first so that you don’t risk getting it on the neighboring cage that may house a pet. My little sister has always wanted to be a veterinarian, and she has just finished the schooling she needs to do so. I will have to share these tips with her, and she starts working to ensure the safety of all the pets.

  6. So, there’s actually SEVEN sides to a cage – left, right, top, bottom, BACK, back of doors front of door…..

  7. I’m so happy to see this post. It so often a rushed or sometimes disregarded step, but so incredibly important in vet med.

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