While your furry friend gets checked every year on their regular vet visit, regular pet health care at home can prevent a lot of problems or at least help you catch them in time. If possible, get your pet used to being handled and examined when they are still a puppy/kitten. This makes it much easier to handle your full-grown friend in the future.
Pet eye care
A regular check of your furry friend’s eyes is a good way to keep you alert of possible health problems. Look into their eyes in a brightly lit area. Their vision should be sharp and eyes clear and bright, without redness, tearing or discharge. Gently roll down the lower eyelid: the lining there should be pink, not red or white.
The following are the signs to watch out for as they might imply health concerns:
- Discharge & crusty gunk
- Red or white eyelid linings
- Closed eye(s)
- Cloudiness or change in eye color
- Visible third eyelid
- Unequal pupil sizes
If these problems continue or worsen, it is always a good idea to consult a veterinarian. Sometimes your pet’s body language will also speak of problems. Are they rubbing their eyes? Keeping their eyes closed more often than usual? These might be signs of irritation and other problems.
Regular care of healthy, clear eyes is easy and quickly done. You can gently wipe your pet’s eyes with a damp cotton ball, starting from corner of the eye moving outwards. Do not use soaps or ointments as they can really irritate the eyes. Sometimes long-haired cats and dogs need their fur trimmed around the eyes. This will prevent the hair from scratching your friend’s eyes but be careful when doing this!
Dog owners, a word of caution: your tail-wagging friend might love to keep their head outside the car when driving but this might lead to problems. The wind can dry out your pooch’s eyes, causing irritation. The debris and insects touching their eyes can also cause infection, pain or injury.
Pet ear care
A little basic maintenance, like monitoring and keeping your friend’s ears clean, goes a long way. Especially dogs with floppy ears are vulnerable to parasites, bacteria and yeast infection thriving in their ears.
If your pet’s inner ears appear to be dirty, you can clean them with a damp cotton ball. You can use water, a solution specifically made for this purpose or hydro-peroxide. Inner-ear skin is delicate so remember to be careful and do not do this too frequently. Never insert anything into your pet’s ears! If your dog enjoys swimming, make sure to dry their ears thoroughly afterwards. Water trapped inside the ear can lead to pain and infections.
Any of the following symptoms can be a sign of further problems. Should you find them, contact the vet:
- Ear discharge
- Bad smells
- Crusty skin
- Hair loss
- Excessive amount and/or dark-colored ear wax
In addition to these, your furry friend’s behavior can tell about ear problems. Look out for differences in your pet’s movements or behavior. Head tilts, sensitivity around the ears, scratching or head-shaking can be telltale signs of infections, parasites, hematoma, or general earache. Treatment usually involves ear drops. Your vet or the pharmacy staff will be happy to teach you how to administer the drops. Remember to complete the entire course of the treatment, even if your pet seems to be doing better.
Whatever is the case, even if your worry seems minor, it is always a good idea to consult your vet. They are there for you and your pet, wanting the best for both of you!