Being a pet owner means getting your hands dirty, even just a little bit. There are several DIY procedures that are a must-know for modern-day pet owners interested in the best health for their pet. These tips can help your veterinarian and can improve the health of your pet!
Record Your Pet in Action
Pet parents will often schedule appointments for problems with their pets that don’t happen all the time, i.e. an intermittent limp, coughing at night, a bizarre reverse sneeze, seizure-like activity, or other weird behavior that simply can’t be replicated at the vet’s office, usually because the pet is too ramped up. In these cases, it is very helpful to take a video or a photo on your smart phone and show that to your veterinarian.
Some pets require more attention to their skin and coats than others, especially if they have nasal or tail folds or long hair around their muzzles or nether regions, then those areas need to be inspected and possibly wiped with a cleansing wipe to remove debris. If you have an older female dog who struggles with urine leakage, then wiping around the vulva once daily with an apple cider wipe can help prevent lower urinary tract infections and excessive licking. Baby wipes are also great tools to clean away debris from skin folds and away from eyes.
At home dental care is the cornerstone of dental health for your companion animal. I believe all owners should start young with teeth brushing to prevent periodontal disease and tooth loss. You can also keep your pet’s teeth clean by using dental wipes instead of a toothbrush, if that is easier. Simply wipe along the outside of the teeth, making sure to go all the way to the back molars. The reason I recommend starting young is that it is easier to train a young dog to be used to someone messing with her mouth than an older dog. Follow-up brushing sessions with a dental treat for positive reinforcement of this important at home health regimen.
Just like teeth brushing, it is much easier to teach younger dogs to have their paws touched and their nails trimmed, but with patience and time, most paw-shy pups can be taught to handle nail trims. If your dog suffers from toe infections call pododermatitis or if your dog works her feet in athletic endeavors, then consider giving your dog a puppy pedicure. You can soak her feet in a warm Epson salt solution, massage shampoo in between the toes, and apply a moisturizing humectant to the paws.
Everything from fleas, to ticks, to urine or feces: a pet owner should know how to collect these lovely specimens and bring them into their veterinarian, especially if their pet is sick. It’s gross, I know, but remind yourself: it’s for your pet’s health. When your pet goes in for his or her annual exam, your veterinarian will (or should) ask for a poop sample to test for parasites, many of which are human health risks. If you bring in a sample that you have collected from home, then you will save your pet from the dreaded fecal loop and trust me: NOBODY likes using that thing.
Putting poop and parasites in a plastic bag and sealing them is pretty self explanatory: make sure to wash your hands. Sometimes, such as in cases of diabetes, urinary tract infections or other changes in urination and water consumption, you may need a urine sample. To catch a urine sample from your dog, follow her out when she goes to do her business, and catch urine in a tupperware.
Even though fresher is better, sometimes you have to collect samples the day before your veterinary visit. If you do, then store them overnight in the fridge. Urine samples are especially important to collect fresh, as the longer the urine sits, to more likelihood it is going to change.