Pets

Pet hygiene 101

Author: Canadian Living

Pets

Pet hygiene 101

You make time in your busy schedule to comb your hair, trim your nails and clean your ears, but if you're a pet-owner, you should invest the same TLC into your four-legged friends.

Lynda DiPietro, a professional dog groomer and owner of Westdale Dog Beauty Salon in Hamilton, Ont. says pet owners -- especially first-time dog owners -- should acknowledge the importance of regular grooming in a dog or cat's life.

Coat and skin
Depending on your dog's coat, a groomer will use electric clippers or brushing and scissoring to trim the fur. Owners should realize the benefits of regular brushing to avoid matting. Some breeds require higher maintenance, like poodles or bichons, and need to be groomed at least once every eight weeks. A lower maintenance dog, like a retriever, can go once every 10 to 12 weeks with professional grooming. Long-haired cats should be groomed every three months. Owners are advised to keep a close eye on the coat of older cats because as cats age, it becomes more difficult for them to clean themselves.

Nails
A dog's nails can get very long and this poses a risk to your pet's health. If the nail grows too long, the dog can get it caught and torn or develop an infection. Long nails may also impede walking.

The dew claw -- the claw higher up on the front legs -- can curl into a doughnut or grow into the leg if left too long. DiPietro suggests checking every six weeks to two months to see if nails need to be clipped. Scratching posts are important for cats as they help with the claw's natural shedding mechanism and cats don't tend to go after furniture as much when they have this alternative.

Ears and eyes
During a routine visit, DiPietro will clean out your dog's ears and eliminate ticks or fleas. Sometimes hair needs to be plucked out of the ear canal. She'll inform the customer of abnormalities like infection or growths that may indicate the pet needs to be examined by a vet. The eyes are checked for discharge.

With cats, check regularly to ensure their eyes and ears are clear with no discharge. If anything looks abnormal, inform your vet.

When it comes to proper pet care, a rule of thumb is to give your pet the same attention you'd give yourself. After all, what's a little grooming in comparison to the unconditional love your favourite feline and compassionate canine gives to you?

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Pet hygiene 101

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