Our dogs and cats are even more important to us at the moment, if that’s possible, which means we are likely to be aware if they look or seem slightly “off”. The current guidance is that your pooch or feline friend can go to the vets if it is deemed an emergency or if they are in pain or suffering (See British Veterinary Association for further guidance). So whilst you can still phone your vet if you are concerned and unsure, which is always the best first step, there are certain things you can do to care for your companion without the need for a trip to vets. We consulted with Chad Dodd, a vet that works with YuMOVE, for help on your pet's home health check.
Easy ear cleaning guide
Before we get into the top tips, it’s important to highlight that if there are signs of infection in your pet’s ears which show in the form of excessive head shaking, red and inflamed areas and are sensitive to the touch you should first consult your vet.
How often should you clear your pet’s ears?
Dogs ears – If you have breeds that have more ‘droopy’ ears such as cocker spaniels then their ears require more frequent cleaning, as things can get more easily trapped in their ears. On average, it’s good to clean your dog’s ear once a month.
Cats ears – Cats are less likely to need their ears cleaned and it tends to be for cat owners who are already aware that their cat’s ears regularly get a build-up of wax
The golden rules of the easy ear clean
Always be sure that your dog or cat is in a relaxed state (snoozing on the sofa maybe) and they are comfortable with you touching their ears before you begin. It’s worth having treats at hand too, to reward your furry friend after their ear cleaning experience.
- For your dog, open their ear wide enough to be able to clearly see inside and to give an indication of any inflammation or discharge, or bad smell, which could be sign of infection and time to consult your vet
- Once you have checked this out, use a damp cotton wool pad and slow and gently wipe around the entrance of the ear to remove any wax
- Now use your dog-friendly ear cleaner and softly insert the tip into your dog’s being sure not to insert too far, and squeeze the bottle to release the solution
- Massage the bottom of their ear to encourage the solution to work into the canal of your dog’s ear
- Wipe any remaining wax/debris or ear cleaner using another damp piece of cotton wall
- To reinforce that ear cleaning isn’t so bad, remember to give your dog a treat
- For your cat, you want to turn their ear inside out so you can see all the way into their ear to see if there are any signs of infection, swelling, discharge or a bad smell. If there is, you will need to consult your vet
- If there are no signs of any debris or ear wax and your cat’s ears appear a nice, light pink colour then there is no need to clean them
- When there is evidence of wax then you will need a cotton wool pad and a cat specific ear cleaner
- All you then need to do is apply the cleaner to the cotton wall pads and gently wipe away debris, dirt or wax from your cat’s ear
- Try to remember to reward your cat with a treat to remind that ear cleaner is a positive experience
When is a nail/claw trim needed?Dog nails - You will know that your dog’s nails need trimming if they are they visibly touching the floor and you are also more likely to hear them scratching the floor as your pooch walks, especially if you have wooden flooring. Keep in mind if they are going for less walks these days their nails might need to be trimmed more often.
Cat claws – A very clear sign that your cat is in desperate need of a claw trim is when their claws begin getting stuck in the carpet and perhaps a less obvious sign is that they will be unable to retract their claws.
The golden rules of the trim
- Use the right equipment, get pet specific nail clippers like these
- Try to relax your pet by offering up treats throughout, and lots of extra stroking and reassurance.
- Look out for the ‘quick’ and do you best to avoid it. The quick is the part of your pet’s claw that is provided with a blood supply and contains nerve endings. With some dog’s who have darker nails you will need to shine a torch at their nails to identify this. The quick is typically red/pink in colour and grows out towards the tip of the claw.
- Once you have identified the quick, you will want to clip your pet’s claws parallel to the bottom of their claw avoiding the quick
- If you do unfortunately catch the quick, which can happen, then make sure apply styptic powder to help stem the bleeding and keep the claw free of bacteria
- Again be sure to give your cat or dog a treat after the clipping
Pad/Paw maintenanceKeeping your pet’s paws healthy is critical to their activities of daily living. It is important to check your pet’s paws and foot pads regularly and take steps to keep them healthy.
- For everyday cleaning you can use warm water on a clean cloth or unscented baby wipes to clean the surface of the foot pad and the areas between their toes and around their nails. If your pet’s pads are dry and cracked cleaning them regularly can help prevent infections from bacteria, yeast or fungi.
- For cases where of significant dryness and cracking you might try soaking their paws in Epsom salt dissolved in warm water or chamomile tea bags. This can help soften and soothe the rough patches of the foot pads. If you notice large cracks, redness, bleeding, or strong odour of your pet’s foot pad it’s best to check with your vet so they can help you determine the cause.
- To help keep your pet’s foot pads healthy it’s a good idea to keep them away from extreme cold or heat and be careful of the surfaces they walk on. It is very common for pets to experience foot pad burns by walking on pavements or roads on excessively hot days so consider alternative routes or try foot booties to help protect your pet’s paws.
An upset stomach
An upset stomach in your pet can result in a variety of symptoms, ranging from lack of appetite to abnormally loose stools to significant vomiting and diarrhoea. If your dog or cat is experiencing signs of vomiting and diarrhoea it is best to check with your vet to see if they’d recommend an office visit. Signs of vomiting and diarrhoea can be signs of many different health conditions so it’s best to identify the cause as best as you can.If your pet is only showing mild signs such as lack of appetite or soft stools you can try offering a bland diet for two to three days and using YuDIGEST PLUS to help restore the balance of their system. A simple option for a bland diet consists of chopped up baked chicken and boiled rice. Often times pets recovering from an upset stomach just need a few days of bland food to allow their digestive system to settle and normalise. If your pet doesn’t appear to be improving or if the episodes of vomiting and diarrhoea continue you should check with your vet.
It is also important to keep your pet hydrated when recovering from an upset stomach. This should include providing easy access to drinking water and checking to make sure your pet is drinking adequate amounts of water throughout the day.
Our pets don’t need their teeth cleaned twice a day like us, which is fortunate for both pet and owner but dental health is still very important and it’s good to keep up with this to reduce the likelihood of a trip to the vets. If the oral hygiene of a pet is avoided , in the long term it can lead to rotten, infected teeth which can even result in infection of the blood and issues with kidneys and heart…so it’s pretty key!
The important things to remember when teeth cleaning
- Be very gently and don’t push past your pet’s comfort zone.
- Try to remain calm and positive – your pet will pick up your emotions if you’re stressed or in a hurry to finish.
- Start young – get your puppy or kitten used to teeth cleaning.
- Use a pet toothbrush – or a more ergonomic, less intrusive option like the YuCARE tooth cleaner which kills bacteria on contact so you don’t have to use toothpaste!
- Use a pet formula paste or polish rather than one intended for humans.
- Do it regularly if possible, as with everything prevention is better than cure so try to maintain a teeth cleaning routine to keep their teeth free of tartar.
We hope the above has helped or even just reassured you that you are doing the right things. Now that we are starting move more towards the warmer weather, here's a piece that can help with recognising heat stroke in your dog.