Pets are not just companions, but are also our saving grace, especially during COVID-19. Both domestic pets and service animals have been known to help and heal people with their gentle touch and calming presence. Even though they can’t speak or express themselves, they know how to put a smile on your face by showing their unconditional love, which can leave a lasting impression on a stranger too. Keeping that in mind, it is even more critical for us to imply the same healthy choices and hygiene practices for our pets, as we do for ourselves. Here are a few tips that can help you keep your pet dog or cat well-groomed and free from any health issues.
- Ensure timely vaccinations and veterinary visits: Immunisations are the first steps to ensuring good pet health. Timely vaccinations help avoid unwanted and harmful diseases. Do not miss the routine veterinary check-ups, wherein the doctor can help you curate a health plan that works best for your pet.
- Avoid ticks and fleas: Brushing your dog’s coat regularly reduces shedding, distributes natural oils on their skin and gives you an opportunity to check for ticks or fleas. These pests are known to cause skin allergies and affect your pet’s health. One of the first changes which occur when your pet is unhealthy are irregularities in their fur, like shedding, and eventually balding in the irritated areas/regions. Taking the time to brush your pet’s hair will also cut down the extra hairballs, remove ticks and fleas from affecting their fur coat. You can also give them occasional baths (depending on the season and their level of outdoor activity). In case of a tick/flea infestation, use vet-approved powders/shampoos.
- Use pet safe products:. Not all human-foods are safe for your pets, some may even be toxic or cause allergic reactions. With the boom of natural products and other organic concoctions in the market, now you can easily choose from a variety of products made specifically for your pets. Certain toxic and dangerous foods for pets include chocolate, caffeine, sugar, onion and garlic, xylitol, alcohol, salt-heavy snacks, certain nuts and raw/undercooked meat, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
- Meet their nutritional needs: Whether you're feeding your pets packaged wet/dry foods or homemade meals, it's important to understand their nutritional needs. A cat won't need the same type, amount or frequency of feeds as a dog. Do your research about what food works or doesn't work for your pet, and give them nutritious food rich in protein, vitamin and dietary fats. Do not over or underfeed them, and keep them well-hydrated.
- Maintain hygiene: A well-groomed pet needs more than a dip in soap water. You must carefully and gently wipe their eyes and ears to get rid of any mucus or dirt build up. You can trim or file their nails and brush their teeth, though you might need the help of a professional groomer in case of a particularly feisty dog. Moreover, practicing cleanliness must extend to their resting area as well. Make sure you clean and sun the bedding.
- Prioritise their fitness: Raising pets involves more than cuddles and belly rubs. A 2018 study by the Learning and Behavior journal says that "dogs have developed specific skills that enable them to interact and communicate efficiently with people. Recent studies have shown that the canine brain can pick up on emotional cues contained in a person's voice, body odour and posture, and read their faces". You can help them stay active and energetic by playing with them, taking them for walks, and being patient with them. What's more, activities like daily walks or playing catch is also a fun and easy way for you to keep yourself moving.