Daily pet care critical for happy, healthy pets

By DR. Nancy Schenck, D.V.M.

Pets can add so much to our everyday life. They are there first thing in the morning wishing us a great day. They patiently wait for or return home and greet us with wags and purrs. For their undying devotion they ask for little: food, shelter and friendly attention.

In addition to routine veterinary care our pets rely on us to provide the day-to-day care that ensures them a quality of life. Certainly, good food, fresh water and regular exercise are very important. Most people are aware of these needs and do a noteworthy job of providing the essentials. But perhaps the one area that owners fall short most regularly is in the area of routine grooming.

An individual pets requirement can vary, depending on canine or feline, type of coat, daily activities etc. Short-haired cats require regular brushing and ear cleaning but not generally daily. Most can be kept in good condition if done weekly. Longhaired cats are a different story. Depending on the length and character of the coat they may need at least every other day brushing, especially during the shedding season. Many of these breeds also have short muzzles and watery eyes, if so the area under the eye should be kept clean and dry.

All dogs need some form of routine care as well. This care includes nail trims. If your dog does not run on hard surfaces this may need to be done every two to four weeks. Many owners are nervous about trimming nails. Check with your veterinarian to find out exactly where to trim. If you make a nail bleed a little from trimming too close, your dog will be fine, you can use styptic powder (available at most pet supply stores) to stop the bleeding. If you use nothing, the bleeding will still stop within a few minutes. Unfortunately, since most owners are nervous about this procedure, their pets become nervous and difficult to handle. Ask your veterinarian, groomer or dog trainer about ways to de-sensitize your pet to nail trims. If left to grow too long nails can cause the foot to spread and cause pain and discomfort as well as damage your dogs’ toes. There is also an increased risk of a torn or ingrown nail, which can be very painful.

Dogs tend to get more ear infections than cats. This can be in the form of a yeast infection, a bacterial infection, or ear mites any of which can make your dogs’ ears painful and itchy. It is not uncommon for a combination of the above to occur at the same time. The only way to diagnose what is the cause of an ear infection is to have your veterinarian evaluate your pet. Fortunately, today there are many good medications available for treatment. If an owner cleans his dogs’ ears weekly many of these infections can be avoided. Moisture in the ear can lead to infections, be sure to place cotton balls down in the ears prior to bathing and clean ears with a good dog ear cleaner any time he has a bath or goes swimming.

As with us, dogs and cats need regular dental care. Many pets suffer quietly with painful teeth. Most pets will still eat and drink with a tooth ache. Don’t let your pet suffer. Daily brushing and/or dental chews can help minimize tarter build up which leads to dental disease. Not only does tarter on your pets teeth affect their mouth but the bacteria can spread to other organs like the heart and kidneys and result in a fatal infection. A clean mouth is not only for dental health but for the overall health of your pet.

Dog hair! There are more types of dog coats than this column can do justice to. There is the shorthaired variety such as seen on Dalmatians, Dobermans and Boxers. These dogs do fine with weekly rub downs with a hound mitt. Then there is the “retriever-type” coat, not really short but not exactly long. Most of these dogs are fine with brushing twice a week, using a slicker or pin brush. Some dogs actually enjoy being vacuumed, which gets the hair where you want it, in the trash and not on your carpet. The longhaired dogs like Collies, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus etc. require daily brushing. If taught to lie still and accept grooming this job can be quick and painless. If your pet is difficult to groom, contact a dog trainer for suggestions, life is complicated enough without daily struggles for routine care. Even dogs that have routine professional grooming need daily care. Remember your groomer can not work miracles and if you bring him/her a matted dog the best he/she may be able to do is a complete shave down. Dogs and cats that require professional grooming should have regularly scheduled appointments with the groomer.

Most pets learn to look forward to routine care. It is time spent with their favorite human. Remember that a well-groomed pet feels awesome!

Dr. Nancy Schenck, D.V.M., of Four Loving Paws Veterinary Services, Inc., can be reached at 812-448- 1415. If you have a question or pet-related topic for Dr. Schenck to discuss in an upcoming article, email it to wilson.braziltimes@gmail.com.

If you have a question or pet-related topic for Dr. Schenck to discuss in an upcoming article, email it to 


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