Want to ensure your pet companion is with you for many years to come? The secret to keeping cats and dogs in good health is taking care of their basic needs at home. Of course that means feeding them right and providing lots of love, but it also means keeping an eye out for possible problems and nipping those in the bud with the right care and attention. Here are five easy pet health solutions to stave off illnesses or injuries and keep your cat or dog happy.
1. Protect Your Pet’s Teeth
You can make all the jokes you want about doggy breath, but a dirty mouth in any pet isn’t funny. Cleaning your dog and cat’s teeth can prevent tooth loss, periodontal disease, and other dental problems that can turn deadly if the bacteria from your pet’s mouth enters the bloodstream where they might affect the liver, heart, and kidneys. Safeguarding your pet’s oral health is an ongoing process that consists of following a regimen of daily or weekly brushing, regular exams, using good chew toys and treats, and maintaining a healthy diet.
2. Groom Completely for Good Health
Eliminating hairballs is just one aspect of good grooming. Proper care of fur, skin, and nails ensures that your pet is less susceptible to infection and irritations. Brush your dog’s coat three or more times a week and bathe your dog about every two weeks with a natural shampoo. Dogs with dry skin may need to bathe less frequently or should be given an oatmeal bath to soothe itchy flesh. If your dog’s claws are too long, they’ll get in the way of everyday walking and movements. In that case, use clippers to gently trim small slices of the nail, being sure to avoid the quick that runs down the center of a dog’s nail.
Cats who aren’t self grooming will need help caring for their coat and nails as well. Despite assumptions that cats don’t like baths, your kitty might do fine with a regular washing – just be gentle and calm. Use cat-specific nail clippers to help remove the outer layer on cats’ claws, which will discourage scratching and clawing.
3. Prevent Hairballs (Dogs Can Get Them Too!)
By taking care to avoid hairballs you’ll spare your cat (and sometimes dogs, too) from a hacking cough, matted coat, constipation, loss of appetite, and lack of energy. Regular brushing is essential. You can also choose foods that contain a mix of extra fiber to help pets pass any ingested hair, and minerals for a healthy coat. Some cat parents also swear by a little tab of butter once a day a few times a week during seasons when hairballs are at their worst. You should discuss that option with your vet, though, to be sure it’s ok for your pet’s diet.
4. Protect Against Flea and Tick Infestations
These parasitic insects feed off your pet’s blood causing discomfort and serious illness. Tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and other debilitating diseases. Fleas can carry a wide range of diseases from tapeworms to the plague. Be proactive and talk to your vet about which flea and tick products are best for your cat or dog. In addition to collars and medications, you might consider using citrus-scented solutions on your pets – possibly even just rubbing some lemon or orange onto their coats – to repel insects that dislike citrus.
5. Care for the Ears
Did you know that the most common reason pet owners take their pet to the doctor is ear infections? There are so many possible causes of ear infections that it is impossible to take actions to guarantee your cat or dog won’t get one at sometime. However, gently wiping around the ears (being sure never to poke anything into the ear canal) can help prevent irritants and bacteria or viruses from taking hold. Check regularly for ear mites as well, and try to limit how much exposure your pet has to unfamiliar animals that might be carrying mites.
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.