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Tuesday, September 25, 2012 11:57 AM
Make sure your pet is in tip-top shape with advice from pet care expert, Shivaun.
Spring is a great time to shake off the winter blues, come out of hibernation and get your life in cracking good order (as we do with our yearly ‘spring clean’). But it’s not just our own lives we need to organise – spring is the perfect time to make sure that your pet is
in barking-great health after the cold season. Here are some tips from Purina’s pet care expert Shivaun Statham on what to look out for with your pet’s health:
Both cats and dogs are prone to getting parasites, and will most likely house some of these nasty critters at some point in their lives. However, there are signs you can look for that will mean you can recognise and treat parasites as soon as possible, reducing the discomfort for your animal companion.
The most important thing to look for is any changes in your pet’s behaviour, appetite and/or water consumption – any change can show that something is astray. If you’re concerned about any changes, go and see your vet for a proper check.
If you notice your pet scratching, check to see if they have any fleas. It’s easiest to check on any light-coloured patches of fur – you should be able to see the fleas on your pet’s skin if they have them. If you can see fleas, there are over-the-counter products you can buy from your pet store or vet that will have instructions.
Some common ways to tell if your pet has worms are: visible worms or eggs in fecal matter (if you’re brave enough to check!); visible worms in fur or the area around your pet’s rear; your pet scratching or rubbing their rear on the ground or against furniture; vomiting with visible worms; a bloated belly; diarrhoea; weakness; weight loss; or changes in appetite. As with fleas, there are products available for treating worms over-the-counter. However, if these treatments don’t relieve your pet’s symptoms – see your vet.
If your pet has a thick coat, spring can be a good time to get them groomed and shed their winter layer for the warmer months coming. This is especially important if you live in warmer areas of the country, and your pet gets a lot of exercise – it will help them
stay cool. Fleas and ticks are also more prolific in the summer months, so giving your pet a shorter coat will make it easier for you to check for pests!
Take this opportunity to also check if your pet’s nails are getting too long – if the nails are making contact with the floor, it’s time for a clip. Nails that are too long can affect the way dogs or cats walk and make it hard for them to grip the floor – overgrown nails can
also become ingrown and infected. The trick is to cut just above the quick (the blood vessels and nerves that supply the nail) but not into it, as this will cause pain and bleeding. If you’re unsure, ask your vet to show you how to do it the first time.
Yes, pets can get skin cancer too! It seems unlikely (due to the fact that most of our pets are covered in fur) but skin tumours are the most common tumours found on pets. Areas that are not shielded with fur are more susceptible (such as the nose and pads of the feet) and animals with light-coloured or thin coats are also more at risk. Use spring as a time to check for lesions before the hot summer sun risks making them worse. Check for lumps and bumps, wounds that don’t heal, swelling, enlarged lymph nodes,
lameness, swelling in the bone or abnormal bleeding. If you unveil anything that concerns you, see your vet. If caught early, a lot of skin cancers can be treated, so it’s definitely worth doing.
Oral disease and tooth decay – horrors you wouldn’t wish on anyone, let alone your lovely furry friend! To make sure all is well and good in your pet’s mouth, do a WOF test by: sniffing their breath – if breath is especially offensive, it’s worth checking out; examine their lips and gums – the gums should be pink (not white or red) and show no signs of swelling; check their teeth – teeth should be clean, without brown tartar, and free from chips or damage. If your pet has really bad breath, excessive drooling, inflamed gums, tumours in the gums, cysts under the tongue or loose teeth – take them to your vet. Infections are no fun and can usually be treated or prevented before they get worse.
Even though the pads of our pets feet are the toughest part of their skin, they’re subjected to a lot of shock and pressure from running and standing on all sorts of surfaces all day. As pets don’t wear shoes, if an injury does occur on the pads of their feet, the injuries can often just worsen. Make sure you watch for bleeding, limping, discolouration of the pad, excessive licking of the pad and lacerations, punctures or abrasions.
Your pet’s eyes are crucial to their safety and well-being, so it’s important you look after them! If you notice that your pet has red eyes, an excess of mucus, lots of blood vessels, weeping eyes or cloudy eyes – make sure you see your vet.
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