Pet owners have been warned that unwanted germs could be lurking in their furry friend's toys.

There's almost no sight sweeter than your pet playing with a toy that you lovingly bought for them (as long as it doesn't squeak that is).

However, did you know that these pet toys could be carrying intestinal bacteria and your pet could be spreading it around your home?

The dog experts at Ruffwear have conducted research that has uncovered just what unwanted germs these precious toys could be home to (and shared some ways to help you get rid of them).

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Carl Gorman, president of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association and clinical vet spoke to Ruffwear and shared his expert advice.

Gorman shared: “It’s estimated that 85% of dogs over the age of 3 years old will have some degree of gum disease, so because they’re chewing on those toys, especially soft toys, they’ll be passing the bacteria on.

"It’s not only an issue for the dogs but the bacteria can be passed on to owners who may pick up the toys when playing. 

“There’s several different types of bacteria that can be found in the presence of teeth with periodontal disease, which includes Peptostreptococcus, Prevotella intermedia, and Bacteroides fragilis to name a few.” 

Ruffwear also conducted further research that found that Bacteroides fagilis is perhaps one of the most unpleasant types of bacteria that can be found in dogs' teeth.

The experts shared that this particular strain colonizes the intestinal tract of dogs as commensal bacteria.

In other words, it’s bacteria that comes from a dog’s intestines.  

Echo: How often should you be washing your dog's toys? Find out. ( Getty Images)How often should you be washing your dog's toys? Find out. ( Getty Images) (Image: Getty Images)

While it might be an unpleasant thought, dogs do groom themselves by licking around their bottoms, Gorman reminds.

"Not only might that transfer intestinal bacteria to the mouth or whatever they chew, but there is a possibility of transferring worm eggs which are known to stick to the fur round a dog’s rear end to the chew toy.

"So, there are possibilities for a chew toy to be a hazard to humans as well as harbour some interesting bugs which the dog will continue to incubate. Much of the risk is theoretical, or at any rate low risk, but it’s there.”

How often should I be cleaning my pet's toys?

You should be cleaning your pet's toys at least once a week in order to stop the spread of germs, the experts have advised.

They have also shared three top tips to ensure that they aren’t spreading unwanted germs and bacteria around your home.

Ruffwear has also stressed that pet owners need to remember to always check for and follow the product-specific care instructions. 

Clean soft toys at least once a week on a 60-degree wash

Soft toys are one of the biggest culprits for holding bacteria due to our pet's saliva sinking into them, so it’s extremely important that we’re cleaning at least once a week.

The experts at Ruffwear recommend washing your dog's soft toys once a week in the washing machine at a temperature of at least 60 degrees to ensure the bacteria can’t grow.

Echo: Dog toys should be washed to keep germs awayDog toys should be washed to keep germs away (Image: Getty Images)

You must ensure soft toys are dried properly after washing

After washing soft toys in the washing machine, you must either put them in the dryer or hang them out to dry.

Damp soft toys are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so it is essential that they are left out to dry thoroughly.

Use washing-up liquid and warm water to clean hard toys

Hard toys are easier to keep clean as saliva doesn’t sink into them, so using a bit of washing-up liquid and warm water will do the trick to keep them clean and germ-free.

Wash your dog's hard toys as much as necessary and if they’ve had a particularly good chew on one, it might be best to give it a wipe down before leaving it on the floor or in their toy basket.