Being a pet owner comes with many responsibilities. You need to make sure your pet is fed, watered, let outside, vaccinated, on proper prevention, and much more. There are some things that need to be done on a regular basis, but pet owners often forget about them. Ear cleanings, nail trims, anal gland expression, bathing, and brushing teeth are all maintenance things that need to be done to keep your pet in tip-top shape. Be sure to start touching ears, paws, and looking in their mouth at an early age. This helps make maintenance tasks easier and less stressful for everyone in the long run. If you are unable to perform these tasks yourself, please call to schedule an appointment and we can help you get them done!
Maintenance Ear Cleanings
We see pets for ear infections almost daily. Signs of an ear infection may include shaking the head, pawing at the ears, red or inflamed ears, odor, and pain. Some dogs require more frequent ear cleanings than others. Cleaning ears as needed can help decrease build up of debris, bacteria, and yeast. But how do you clean the ears?
When cleaning your pets ears be sure to use an ear cleanser recommended by your vet. Cats and dogs have an L-shaped ear canal. So to begin, use one hand to pull the ear flap up and angle it slightly back towards the top of the head. This allows for the ear canal to straighten. Using your other hand, fill the ear canal with the ear cleanser. Then, gently massage the base of the ear for 10-20 seconds. Release the ear and allow them to shake. Finally, remove the excess cleanser with a dry cotton ball or gauze. Repeat until ears are clean.
Maintenance Nail Trims
It is very important to regularly trim your pets nails. Long nails can cause a splayed foot, reduce traction, deform feet and injure the tendons over a long period of time. Trimming nails can be stressful for pets and owners. That is why it is important to begin touching paws and trimming their nails when they are young, so that they become accustomed to it. Using a distraction, like peanut butter or their favorite treat, can help to make the process more enjoyable.
To clip their nails, first start by picking up a paw and placing your thumb on the pad of a toe and your forefinger on top of the toe on the skin above the nail. Extend their nail by pushing your thumb up and backward on the pad, while pushing your forefinger forward. You can now clip the tips of the nail straight across. Try to avoid clipping past the curve of the nail or you may cut the quick. The quick is the area of the nail that contains the blood vessels. If you clip the nail too short it will be painful and bleed.
Anal Gland Expression
Anal glands are sacs located on either side of the rectum. The anal sac secretion contains chemicals that act as territorial markers. Anal gland fluid is usually squeezed out naturally by muscular contractions whenever the dog passes a bowel movement. If the anal glands do not express on their own, manual expression may be necessary. Anal gland rupture or abscess may occur if they are not expressed for a long period of time. Usually, pets will scoot or lick at their hind end when their anal glands need to be expressed. If you see your pet doing this, then call the clinic and we can set up an appointment for you.
It is a good idea to bathe your dog about once per month. Unless they love to get dirty or have underlying conditions like allergies or fungal/bacterial skin infections, then more frequent bathing is recommended. Some breeds of dogs may also need to get regular grooming done to prevent their fur from matting.
Tips for bathing include:
- Be sure to use a shampoo made specifically for pets
- Thoroughly rinse shampoo off with water
- Completely dry their coat with a towel to prevent hot spots and other possible skin infections
- Avoid getting water in eyes and ears
Daily Tooth Brushing
We brush our own teeth daily and visit the dentist twice per year. Our pets can not brush their teeth, so they need your help. At Frost Family, we have performed over 150 dental procedures in the last year. These procedures are done under anesthesia because unfortunately our pets won’t say ‘ahhh’ for us. It is important to brush your pet’s teeth daily with pet toothpaste or wipe their teeth with gauze daily to prevent tartar buildup. Please visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council website at http://vohc.org for products such as treats, chews, food and water additives which are tested and proven to help prevent tartar buildup.