Imagine if you never brushed your teeth how uncomfortable that would be! Maintaining good oral hygiene in your pet can prevent a variety of health problems, not just in the mouth. An unchecked mouth can develop loose and broken teeth which are painful, and inflamed gums can house harmful bacteria and give them access to the bloodstream, where they can circulate and cause damage to internal organs. A clean mouth takes care of more than just bad breath, and introducing your pet to a toothbrush will help avoid serious dental work by delaying the progression of dental disease. If your pet is used to having their mouth handled, the vet will also have an easier time checking it at the yearly exam which will help catch any emerging issues before they turn into trouble. Take time to handle your dog's mouth: lift the lips, open the jaws, and practice brushing. This will also be beneficial if they ever need oral medication or if they eat something they shouldn't!
Keeping Ears Clean
The importance of ears can often be accidentally overlooked by owners, but anyone who's ever had an ear infection knows it sure smarts when they become a problem. Ears can collect dirt and debris and maintain a warm and moist environment where yeast and bacteria thrive, and this can cause the ear canals to become inflamed, itchy, infected, and generally uncomfortable. Practice manipulating the ears of your pet; move them around and check them for wax buildup or evidence of dirt. Not only will they be easier for the vet to check during their annual exam, but if they ever do develop a problem you will have a much easier time administering medicated drops into the ears!
Playing With Paws
Handling your pet's feet regularly gets them accustomed to having their limbs manipulated, which can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. Nail trims become routine instead of a hassle, and if they ever cut their paw on something sharp, bandaging won't be as big of a deal. Don't forget about dogs in the winter too, when salt on sidewalks can dry out and crack their pads, and using boots or protective creams becomes a necessity! As your pet ages, vets check their range of motion and flexibility by bending the legs. Being able to do so without having the pet pull the limb away will help the vet detect any signs of arthritis, hip dysplasia, or other limb or gait abnormalities. Also, if your pet ever becomes sick or injured and needs an x-ray, it will be much easier and less stressful to get them in the proper position, and clear x-rays with minimal restraint make for the most helpful images to use diagnostically.
Skin & Coat Health
The skin and coat of your pet are its natural barrier to the outside world and have an important role to play. Shedding out the coat is a natural process and brushing can prevent tangles, help the shed hair come out easier, make the coat silkier, and also improve the bonding between you and your pet! It can also be an indicator of health as well. Too much hair loss, itching of the skin, or dandruff can all be signs of external parasites, allergies, or even hormone imbalance. Keeping up regular grooming of your pet will help both you and us detect changes early on and catch problems before they develop, and it keeps them looking and feeling great!
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