Magnanimously healthy is the new wealthy

Don’t we all want our pets to have the happiest, healthiest, and longest life possible? Here are some tips I have gathered over my years of experience grooming at Pawlish, to help you take a step closer to achieving this goal.
–by Marcia D’Souza

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Diet and a healthy exercise routine can play a major role in maintaining short-term and long-term health goals for our pets. It is highly recommended to get regular health check-ups, at least once a year even if your pet is healthy. The diagnosis for health problems is typically better with early detection, and a better diagnosis means more manageable treatment costs. Never skip preventive services like flea and tick medicines, heartworm medicines and vaccines. Spaying or neutering can also be important to your pet’s long-term health.

The power of food

It is important to choose nutritious options appropriate for each breed and age. Remember, calories per serving of pet food vary from brand to brand. It is equally important to measure the amount you are serving per meal. You can contact a veterinarian or pet nutritionist if you are unsure about the type of food or quantity that is best suited for your pet (as all pets can have different ideal weight and dietary needs, depending on their age, breed, exercise routine etc.). This of course includes in-between meal treats as well (homemade or packaged). Homemade treats like chicken breasts that are boiled, shredded and then dried under the fan for a day can be an ideal solution for pets with allergies or those who are sensitive.

Exercise – a celebration of what the body can do

Regular exercise is the key to maintaining physical and mental health of your pets. Walking your pets two to three times a day can go a long way. Indoor activities can also help burn out calories and can promote healthy muscle development. The chances of hip dyslexia and other physical illnesses can be reduced if your pet is well exercised.

Bubble catching, fetch, hide & seek, playing with rope toys (for dogs), ping pong, playing with loose ropes/strings, etc. for cats are some examples of indoor games.

Boredom can be the first step to sadness

A bored pet can cause a lot of unnecessary destruction in the house, as well as to themselves. Bored/under exercised pets often bite/tear and destroy household items in search for entertainment or physical/mental stimulation. Bored pets also often lick/scratch themselves, which can cause skin issues as well as bad odour coming from their coat.

Help your pet beat boredom by giving them interactive toys (treat or movement-oriented toys for dogs, climbing posts for cats), playing games, and taking them for walks or play dates with other pets. If your time and budget allow, getting a four-legged sibling can be a great source of entertainment and happiness to them. Remember, happiness promotes good physical and mental health.

Hydrate to feel great

Just like us, our pets also need an adequate amount of fresh water every day. Dehydration can be a serious condition and can lead to other problems such as urinary tract infection, kidney failure, and sometimes even failure of other organs.

Water requirements for dogs and cats can depend on the environmental temperature, level of exercise, breed, age, and body size. Canned food is 70-80 percent water, so pets who eat canned food may tend to drink a little less water than pets who eat dry food. If you think your pet isn’t drinking enough water, you can mix some room temperature water into their dry food. It is essential that your pet always has easy access to clean water. Encourage them to stay hydrated by refilling their water bowl with fresh water multiple times a day. For cats, water fountains can be a fun option too.

When taking your four-legged friend outside for walks and exercise, please make sure to keep a close eye on dehydration and heat strokes. Especially if your pet is excited, you may have to remind them to take a break in the shade and get them a sip of water. If you enjoy taking your pets on longer walks or a hike, don’t forget to pack an extra water bowl for them—collapsible bowls are a wonderful travel option.

Say yes to grooming

Establishing a grooming routine is essential to keep your pets clean and safe from infections. Grooming your pets can also help build trust and comfort into your relationship. When it comes to grooming, it’s important to keep it a positive experience and to use lots of rewards. The more you do it, the more your pet will get used to it and realise that this is just a part of their routine. Take care of these aspects for a wholesome grooming routine.

Coat – Brush their coat regularly to keep it clean and tangle-free. Depending on your pet’s coat type, your four-legged friend may need to be brushed more or less often than other breeds, but keep in mind that even hairless breeds need to be groomed regularly.

Teeth – Brushing your pet’s teeth once a day or after every meal can help prevent dental tartar and gum disease. Make sure to use pet-safe toothpaste and don’t brush too hard.

Ears – You will want to check your pet’s ears every few days for signs of redness or bad odour, both of which can be sign of infections. Your pet’s ears can be cleaned by a trusted groomer or you can also do it at home. To clean the ears, use a pet-safe ear cleaning solution and cotton ball (never a cotton swab) and gently wipe out their ears.

Eyes – Eye goopies in the corner of their eye is inevitable. It may not cause any discomfort, but pets with a lighter coat could have their fur stained. Dogs and cats with bigger eyes may accumulate more discharge, which can irritate the skin under the eyes. To clean the area around the eyes, use a damp, soft cloth, and gently wipe away from the eye. Be sure to use a different corner of the cloth for each eye (this will help reduce the spread of infection).

Nails – Cats and dogs naturally wear their nails down during their everyday routine. In many cases, you may still need to trim their nails. For cats, every two weeks with just a cat nail trimmer and you can easily trim your kitty’s nails at home. For dogs, they will typically need their nails trimmed whenever you can hear them click the floor. You can also trim your pet’s nails yourself or have them done at the groomers. Some veterinarian offices may even offer to trim your dog or cat’s nails, but be aware that there’s typically a fee.

Paws – It’s a good idea to clean your pet’s paws after they’ve been outside. Pesticides and harmful chemicals on streets, sidewalks, and lawns are ingested by pets when they lick their paws and can be detrimental to their health over time. Pet wipes are an easy way to clean their paws.

(Marcia D’Souza is founder of Pawlish The Pet Salon, Mumbai, Maharashtra)