Money Saving Pet Hygiene Tips
Did you know that keeping your pet clean can SAVE you money? I’m as interested in saving money as the next person and if it means I get to keep my pet healthy at the same time, then tell me more! From tooth brushing and ear cleaning to nail trimming and bathing, there are many things that you can do for your pets to keep them healthy. If this ends up meaning that you can spend less money fixing preventable problems, then it’s a win-win!
Brushing your pet’s teeth at home can reduce the bill when it’s time for them to have their teeth professionally cleaned. Here is the explanation. Periodontal disease – when the tooth is diseased under the gum line – leads to decay and the need for extractions (not to mention the pain that process entails). Tooth brushing at home can significantly impact the level of periodontal disease the pet develops and also slow the progression of dental disease over time. If and when your pet needs a professional cleaning, there will be less chance that extractions will be needed if you have done your part at home. Remember, brushing your pet’s teeth will also keep their breath fresh and that’s always good!
For a video that shows tooth brushing, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jajIPU-KhZg
I often recommend that owners clean their pet’s ears at home on a regular basis. The frequency of the need for ear cleanings varies with each pet, but those who have had ear infections in the past are candidates for home ear cleanings twice a month and also after each bath. Ear cleaner frequently has an alcohol base and soap to break down debris. When you clean your pet’s ears the day of and the day after a bath, it helps any remaining water evaporate out. Infections will be a result of either yeast of bacteria in the ear and those critters like the moist environment the ear canal provides after a bath. Keeping the ear free of debris and also dry will go a long way to preventing infection. Dogs also get ear infections as a result of underlying allergies. Their immune system is weakened from their allergy and the yeast or bacteria are “opportunistic” and take advantage of the host. If your pet gets ear infections that are not linked to bathing, this may be an explanation. By cleaning the ears every other week at home, you can detect infection early and perhaps even fight it off. When the moisture and debris are removed from the ear canal, it is tough for infection to set in at all.
For a video that shows ear cleaning, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ-KDSbGlyw
What about nail trimming? It may not seem like an overly important health prevention concern, but it can be. Though many pets have long nails
and the main complaint is that we hear them clicking when they walk across the floor, long nails can be quite dangerous. Excessively long toenails are much more easily torn, resulting in major bleeding episodes and sometimes a trip to the Emergency Vet. These pets are very sore and frequently lame as a result. There’s a second complication associated with long nails – ingrown toenail. Here is an image of a cat whose nails were not trimmed – they actually grew around into the pad! Ouch! This is now a big deal – with pain and infection here, the pet often needs sedated to
cut the nail away and clean out the wound that was created. I can’t even image how sore these toes are to walk on.
For a video that shows nail trimming, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_qKzBd5OQY
Bathing, how can that help? One of my favorite trivia questions is, “what is your largest organ?” It’s your skin! Your skin is also an immune organ and functions the same way for our pets. When the skin is dry and cracked, our pets are susceptible to infections and allergies. Obviously bathing can help these pets, though keep in mind that their own natural oils are also important. I recommend bathing when they are dirty or about 1-2 times per month. What about haircuts? These are extremely important because we routinely see long-haired pets that have developed tight, painful mats in their fur. When the fur is matted against the skin, there is usually infection underneath it. Simply clipping the mat off and cleaning the skin usually fixes this issue, but some pets require antibiotics to resolve the subsequent infection.
So if you keep your pet looking good and smelling nice, you will benefit by the daily hugs you can get and also by the long term benefit to your pocket book.
Dr. Amy Hellard, West Chester Veterinary Care
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