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Dos and Don’ts in caring for your pet

By Dora Brogdon

Everyone at some point has owned a dog or a cat, whether they knew a friend or family member that owned one. Taking care of an animal like a dog, not so much a cat, is almost the same as raising a human child. Some owners even consider their pet to be their child, or furbaby as I like to call it,

And just like raising a child, there are dos and don’t dos when it comes to feeding and grooming your four-legged family members. Dogs and cats can’t eat the same food as us and if digested it can cause serious problems for them. Ranging from tiny bones to the horrible chocolate, these are just a few food types your pet should not eat.

Grapes and Raisins – These can cause acute kidney failure in dogs and should stay out of reach for cats as well.

Chocolate – While everyone loves a good piece or handful of chocolate it can be very harmful to your pets. If ingested, a dog will start showing symptoms of dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea. From there those symptoms can lead to more serious harm. It can cause seizures, internal bleeding, muscle tremors and, death.

Raw Fish – While this isn’t exactly harmful to your cat and dog it can still cause food poisoning them with harmful bacteria. Your pet can also be at risk to catch Fish Disease, this is done by a parasite commonly found in up-stream swimming fish.

Salt – Large quantities of salt can cause serious problems for your dog. Salt poisoning can have serious neurological effects on their brain.

Mushrooms – Wild mushrooms can be very harmful to your pet especially if they stay outside. Even a few small bites can make your cat and dog have a seizure. It would be best to remove any wild mushroom in your yard.

Cherries – These toxic fruit can cause breathing problems, dilated pupils, shock, and even death. The non-pulp parts contain cyanide and owners should be wary of cherry trees and shrubs in their yards

Fruits with pits – Beware fruit that contain pits. If eaten the pit can obstruct their intestines, Mainly the pit of a plum and peach, or choke. The pits also contain cyanide in them.

Beverages – Small amounts of alcohol can lead to poisoning, even mouthwash and fermented foods can poison your cat and dog. If digested the symptoms can range from drowsiness, loss of coordination, respiratory failure, vomiting, seizures, and ultimately death. Caffeine can damage your pet’s heart and nervous system and their other organs. Tea, soda, ice cream, and coffee should be off limits. As your dog or cat grows older their ability to digest milk goes away, making them lactose intolerant. Actually consuming yogurt, milk, and cheese can give your pet diarrhea and other issues as well.

Grooming your dog

Grooming your dog, and depending on the breed, can provide a healthy benefit. Grooming removes dead hair and helps distribute the natural oils to help keep both their skin and coat healthy. While grooming it also gives the owner a chance to check their pet’s skin for anything out of the ordinary like scratches or parasites. To make things a little easier, start when they’re only a puppy so they can get use to being handled.

When it actually comes to grooming your dog it’s much more than just brushing their fur. Grooming includes bathing, dental care, eye care, ear care, nail care, and taking care of their paws. Bathing your dog is recommended at least once every three months unless they have a skin problem or spend a lot of time outside. When brushing your dogs teeth make sure to use toothpaste specifically made for dogs. It’s recommended to brush their teeth two to three times a week. If your canine companion hasn’t had their teeth brushed before it would be best to get them use to it by massaging their lips for a minute. Do that once or twice a day for a few weeks before rubbing their gums.

Checking your dogs eyes routinely can alert you to any health problems they may have. Taking a damp cotton ball and wiping their eyes outward from the inner corner of the eye can remove any gunk. Call Your veterinarian when you see your dog start showing symptoms of having an eye infection. These symptoms are: Unequal Pupil Size, Visible Third Eyelid, Cloudiness or Change of Eye Color, Closed Eye or Eyes, Tear Stained Fur, Red or White Eyelid Linings, Tearing, Discharge and Crusty Gunk.

It’s important to clean your dogs ears, but not to frequently or to deeply because this could cause irritation. Be sure to clean the inner ear with a cotton ball or with a dampened piece of gauze. The inner ear is very delicate so it would be best to let your vet show you how to clean it first. Contact your veterinarian if your dog has any of these symptoms: Hearing Loss, Walking in Circles, Unusual Eye Movements, Loss of Balance, Head Shaking or Head Tilt, Wiping the Ear Area on Furniture or the Floor, Hair Loss Around Ear, Crusted or Scabby Skin on the Tip of the Ear, Swelling, Redness, Odor in the Ear, Brown or Yellow or Bloody Discharge, and Ear Scratching.

Cutting your dogs nails can be a stressful moment for both you and your dog especially when you aren’t sure what you’re looking for when clipping them. If you have a dog that isn’t use to having their paws touched, making it hard to cut their nails, it would be best to get them use to having their paws touched. First step in cutting your dog’s nails is by gently spreading out their toes to look for any dirt. If you don’t see anything then move on to gently holding each toe, hold the trimmer at an angle from top to bottom, and cut the nail carefully until you see a circle the same color as the nail. That means you are getting close to the quick, best to move on to the next nail now. If you so happen to cut into the quick than apply some cornstarch or styptic powder to stop the bleeding. If the cut continues to bleed make sure you contact your veterinarian.

If your dog shows any fearful or aggressive signs such as: Snapping, snarling, tail-tucking, growling, cowering, whining, freezing, trembling, drooling and, panting. If they are do not continue and do not force the dog to submit. Some dogs are not able to get over their fear of having their nails cut so it would be best to go and see a professional.

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