By Doug Jimerson
One of the best ways to keep your furry friends in top form is to check their ears, eyes and nails every month. Although this shouldn’t replace your pet’s annual exam at the veterinarian, it’s a smart way to prevent problems that could crop up between regular visits.
Both dogs and cats can suffer from ear infections, but dogs with long pendulous ears such as hounds are at the most risk. To clean a dog’s ear start with a commercial ear rinse available most places pet supplies are sold. Squirt a few drops of the solution into your pet’s ear and massage gently to loosen any wax or dirt build-up. Then gently wipe the inside of the ear with a cotton ball. Don’t use Q-tips because they can damage your pet’s ears. Avoid pushing too deeply into the ear canal.
It’s also wise to trim the hair from inside the ears of longhaired dogs, such as setters and spaniels, so dirt and moisture don’t accumulate. If your dog likes to swim, dry the ears with a cotton ball.
If your dog or cat’s ears start to smell or if your pet is scratching or head shaking, it could be a sign of a more serious condition such as ear mites. Get your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Often the first sign your pet isn’t feeling well is when its eyes start to water or produce excessive discharge. Although a small amount of discharge is normal, especially in the morning, an excessive amount is a sign you need to get your pet to a veterinarian. It’s important for you to know what’s normal for your animal by checking its eyes frequently.
Regular nail care is also important. You can tell when a dog’s nails need to trimmed by observing his feet when he’s standing on four legs. The nails should be just off the ground and they should not make a clacking sound as he walks across the floor.
With dogs, it’s important to avoid clipping into the vein running about three-fourths of the way down the nail. Try to locate the vein before you begin. If the nail is too dark to find the vein, clip away small bits of nail until you reach the proper length. And don’t forget to trim any dewclaws on the inside of each leg, just above the paw.
Cats need to have their nails trimmed, too, but unlike dogs, they retract their claws when they stand. A good rule of thumb with cats is to clip the white tip section of each nail below the pinkish section (the quick) at the base of the nail. Be sure to clip your cat’s dewclaws, too. If your kitty resists, try wrapping her in a towel to minimize struggling.
If you check your pet’s ears, eyes, and nails regularly it will keep your furry friends happy and healthy.