Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Little Things

It's the little things - the small details that may get overlooked. But don't underestimate the impact they can have on the health and happiness of your pet.

Water and Food Bowls

Be sure to wash and sanitize food and water bowls frequently.  When feeding wet cat or dog food, completely wash bowls with soap and water before adding new food.  For dry food that is left out for grazing the complete wash should be done periodically, at least twice a week. Same for water bowls, fountains, or self feeders.  Although rinsing and refilling the water bowl during the day is fine the bowl needs to kept germ free by frequent complete washes including soap.  Failing to completely clean food and water bowls can lead to a build up of germs that can lead to illness or stomach upset for your pet.

Daily Walks

There are multiple benefits of a daily walk for your dog including exercise, fresh air, social interaction and mental stimulation.   Sniffing the grass and trees in the neighborhood provides your pup with knowledge of the outside world. This combined with the noises they hear and people and animals they interact with outside of their home will teach them to be less fearful and more social. Daily exercise is especially important for high energy dogs who, without an outlet for their energy, could resort to destructive behavior.

Keep Nails Trimmed

Extra long nails will result in the improper position of your dog's feet which, over the long term, can result in damage to their legs and joints.  Nails should not touch the floor and therefore your should not hear a "clicking" sound when your pup walks on a wood floor or similar surface.  Paved surfaces like streets and sidewalks will naturally rub down your pups nails so if you walk your dog daily, you will notice that you will not need need to trim their nails as frequently.

Brush to Reduce Tangles and Matted Fur

Long haired dogs and cats should be brushed to reduce the chance of matted fur.  Tangles of matted fur can be uncomfortable for your pet and, if left untreated, can result in damage to the skin that in severe cases can lead to infection. Brush at least once a week paying close attention to behind the ears and around the legs.  There are a variety of grooming tools readily available that are easy to use.  When mats occur first try to gently brush them out. If you are unable to remove by brush or comb carefully trim the fur, being cautious as to not pull or cut the skin.

Fresh Air for Indoor Cats

Indoor cats will benefit from smelling the fresh air and feeling the breeze from outside. Prepare a spot by a window for your kitty to relax and enjoy the sights and smells of the outdoors.  This spot will be particularly inviting if it is up on a shelf or perch that kitty can climb up on.  Make sure the window in securely screened to prevent falls.

Empty and Clean Litter Boxes 

Daily scooping is a must to maintain the cleanliness of your cat's litter box. However, the daily scoop should only be a maintenance ritual between complete litter changes.  About once a week is a good schedule.  At this time all the litter should be emptied from the box, the box cleaned and sanitized with a pet friendly cleaner, and then refilled with fresh litter. Make sure the box is rinsed thoroughly to completely remove any harsh smells or residue.

Attending to these small tasks on a daily or weekly basis will take less energy and save time than if left undone. The results will be happier and healthier pets.

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