Those of you who have pets know that it can be expensive when unexpected medical issues pop up. There are things that you can do though to help avoid costly veterinary bills simply by being vigilant with your pet’s grooming; this goes for both dogs and cats. Some of you may have your pets professionally groomed on a monthly basis, but for the rest of us, it’s really important to pay attention to their hygiene in order to ensure that little problems don’t become big ones.I personally feel that one of the best things about our pets is that they cannot talk back to me; if I wanted that, I’d have had kids. The problem with that, though, is they can’t communicate to us when they are in discomfort and, in fact, they can be very stoic about pain until it’s serious. Given their lack of verbal abilities, it’s up to us to pay attention to them, sort of like we would a human baby.Even if you’re not bathing them, it’s a good idea to have a weekly “grooming session.” Sit down with them when you have a few extra minutes, rub their ears or their belly, get them relaxed and have a few little treats on hand. Even if they have short fur, brush or comb them out, check for lumps, check the length of their nails and their pads for scrapes or cuts, check their teeth for excess tartar and their gums for redness.
One of the most common problematic areas on our pets is their ears. Cats and dogs can suffer from bacterial, yeast and fungal infections in their ears. They also can get parasites called ear mites as well as suffer from allergies affecting their ears. Animals with heavy ears or coats can be especially prone to these problems because of reduced airflow to the ear canal. In cats, no matter what fur length, it’s very common.There are obvious signs you should watch for, such as excessive scratching or pawing at the ears; sensitivity to touch; and what I call’ “stink ear,” an unusually foul odor from one or both ears. Less obvious signs include a discharge, redness in the ear canal, swelling around the ear or dark brown/reddish goop in the ear.Left untreated, ear infections can cause all sorts of problems including severe and chronic pain that may require corrective surgery, hearing loss, hematomas; or neurological symptoms, such as loss of balance. As you can imagine, treating any of these things may involve some costly vet bills and normally can be avoided if caught early. So when you’re performing your little grooming session, make sure that you look at their ears. It’s a good idea to purchase a bottle of Otic cleanser to wipe your pet’s ears regularly. You can get it at most pet supply stores or from your veterinarian. Using the cleanser with a cotton ball or gauze pad (NOT cotton swabs), you can clean the ear gently. If you have questions about cleaning your cat’s or dog’s ears, check with your vet office. It’s a simple process that is perfectly safe and helpful to your pet’s health.
I should probably warn you that your cat may not be terribly cooperative at firs; this may cause bodily harm … to you, I mean. I’m kidding of course, but do use caution when doing anything new or uncomfortable for your pets. And whenever you can, start them as puppies or kittens with their grooming routines. Remember, keep it positive, get them relaxed, take your time, talk soothingly, and reward them with treats during or after the session.