10 Tips You Might Not Know to Take Care of Pets
By Noel Daniel
Pets are a lot like children. Neither really comes with an instruction manual, and it can be easy to forget that there might be tips and tricks that are necessary for the ideal health of your furry family. Here are 10 Great Tips we collected from area animal specialists.
1. Applause for Pretty Paws
This one tackles a dog’s least-favorite grooming procedure: Nail clipping. Truthfully, dogs have an awful lot of grooming they don’t like, but this one carries the possibility of accidentally hurting your furry friend.
“Dogs have a quick, and it’s the nerve inside their nail,” said Andrea Delguidice, Creative Pet Stylist at Lisa’s Pet Styles in Turlock. “You really have to read about it to understand where it’s at and you have to practice clipping the nail to figure it out.”
There are a few hard-and-fast tips. If they’re white nails, you’ll be able to see pink inside. If they’re dark nails, it’ll look dirty on the underside and there will be a glossy finish where the quick isn’t. But Andrea says it’s best to get nails trimmed professionally.
“If they want their dog’s nails shorter, they’d need to bring their dogs in every three weeks to get them clipped and filed,” Andrea said, “to maintain nail length, every month.”
It’s also important to remember that walks can keep nails maintained. When a dog walks on cement, the nails can file down themselves. If pets are often on grass or dirt, however, they might not be able to.
2. Brush it Out
Now for some of a cat’s biggest issues—matty fur. If your cat is long-haired, you need to make sure you’re budgeting in time to brush out their fur.
“Always brush and comb your cats,” Andrea said. “A thorough brushing once a week, depending on how long the hair actually is.”
And the same thing can happen with dogs, of course. A lot of people will come in with knotty dogs, and they don’t realize that not only are their current grooming procedures creating the problem, they’ll also occasionally make it worse!
“A lot of people will come in and their dogs will have knots and tangles,” Andrea said. “That’s typically from not brushing at home; usually it starts in a small spot—the hair starts tangling. A lot of people will bathe their dogs and blow dry or towel dry and each time they bathe them, the knot will start to grow.”
This is understandably a big problem as it can cause discomfort for the animal. So how to address the issue? By brushing before each bath, seeing as that’s when they have the most oils on their skin and coat. And by not bathing them as often, as this practice is what helps to spread those mats.
3. A Pet Palette
Maybe you’ve looked wistfully at colored animals and desperately wanted to make your dreams of finally owning a leopard or a Pikachu. But something’s always held you back—the distinct feeling that it wouldn’t be good for the animal. Thankfully, Andrea weighs in on the conundrum, at least in terms of Lisa’s Pet Styles’ procedures.
“It’s an all-natural, vegan, temporary hair dye,” said Andrea. “It’s a hair stain that we use and it lasts anywhere from four to eight weeks, depending on if they get wet.”
The dye at Lisa’s Pet Styles is also nontoxic. As for what designs are available, Andrea said it all depends on the length and texture of the hair. Then, depending on what ideas you have, you can work with the stylist and they can make recommendations based on that.
4. Dry Your Tears
Occasionally, dogs can accumulate what’s referred to as “tear stains”— essentially, this gunk can build up and cause some serious problems.
“It’s like an eye booger that builds up,” Andrea said. “When it gets really bad, the dog can’t see and it can scratch the eyeball.”
This is easily remedied, though—tear stains can be cleaned up with tear-free soap, like baby shampoo, and warm water.
5. The Best Offense is a Good Defense
One of the scariest situations in a pet-owner’s life is when their friend goes missing. There are a few ways to prevent this from occurring.
“The most common reasons a dog will stray is from boredom, loneliness, and if the dog is not spayed or neutered,” said Annette Patton, Executive Director of the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency. “The most common comment we hear almost everyday from the pet community is ‘my animal is never outside and would never run away.’ It only takes one time for a dog to escape as thousands do each year and end up at the shelter—hoping and waiting for their owners to reclaim them to return home.”
So keep your dog exercised and socialized—and make sure to spay or neuter your animal. This can have a number of benefits, not the least of which is curbing their desire to bolt.
6. Homeward Bound
If a dog should happen to run away, the owner should immediately check with their local shelter in person or online. Those who have lost pets are strongly encouraged to check the website every day, as pictures are updated seven days a week. They also provide a list of websites to check, like Craigslist or Facebook pages like Lost Animals in the 209. It’s even better to have your pet microchipped.
“Every animal entering the shelter is checked for a microchip at multiple times in hopes of locating the owner,” said Patton. “The microchip is sold for $20 at the shelter and should not be confused with GPS. The microchip does not indicate the location of an animal. The microchip works with a reader and shares the owner’s name and address if they’re properly registered with Stanislaus Animal Services.”
Make sure to check their website, www.stanislausanimalservices.com, to keep an eye on lost pets entering the shelter.
7. Eating Right
Even dogs and cats need healthy diets, and one of the biggest problems is that owners don’t read the ingredient lists. Corn, wheat, byproducts, and fillers are no good for your furry friends says dog and cat nutrition specialist Rachael Hall, who is also the Manager at Caldron’s Pets Choice.
“I would encourage people to look at the ingredients on the food,” said Hall. “A lot of issues that dogs have—licking their feet a lot, hot spots, redness on the belly—are typical signs of a food allergy.”
According to Hall, dogs weren’t meant to eat corn and wheat. They’re cheap fillers, and your dog’s nutrition can suffer because of them. Hall recommends both Orijen and NutriSource Food. As an added bonus, NutriSource has probiotics that promote digestive health.
8. Sit, boy!
When it comes to owning a pet, maybe professional training has never crossed your mind– until a bad behavior shows its ugly head, of course.
“Early training with your dog can prevent many behavioral issues,” said Lisa Moore, KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA, and Owner of Top Notch Kennels. “Choose a positive training approach based on the science of learning. There’s no need to be ‘dominant’ or ‘alpha.’ It’s proven that the dog-to-human relationship is not driven by fear or social rank, but rather by positive reinforcement.”
According to Moore, fun and positive training means a more fulfilling and loving relationship, with a dog that’s eager to please!
9. Home Away from Home
Sometimes your furry friend just can’t come with you on those long trips. But then, what to do with them? Can’t you just have a house sitter come by now and then to make sure he’s doing alright? There might just be a better solution.
“Boarding your dog when away from home will give you the peace of mind that he is in a safe and comfy environment with all the proper supervision,” said Moore. “Being separated and apart from you for any length of time can be stressful and cause anxiety. To prevent this, choose a boarding facility in advance.”
Moore recommends that you take a tour and meet the staff. It’s important for you to be comfortable with where your precious pet will be while you’re away. To increase your pet’s comfort, have your dog spend the day or night a couple of times before a more extended vacation.
10. Aftercare for Absent Friends
In the absolute worst-case scenario, although it will be very difficult to manage, you must keep a level head and make your first call to the animal’s veterinarian or to a nearby 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic. Unfortunately, these hours are not always convenient, or else it’s very clear that the animal has passed—in which case you can call a pet mortuary.
Family Pet Mortuary in Turlock, specifically, has a 24/7 phone line and will go to your home to pick up your pet. Understandably, you might not want the pet to sit in the home after the realization, but it is okay to leave them during the process of dealing with the next few steps.
As for what else Family Pet Mortuary can do for you, they have a number of sympathetic memorial services and offerings—like a brick with your pet’s name in it, or paw print stones.
“We have a little farewell room where the clients can come in, sit down, say goodbye to their pet and light a candle,” said John Pinkerton, Operations Manager at Family Pet Mortuary. “Whatever they need for closure.”
Even though there were quite a number of tips here, there are still so many ways you can learn more about your pet. Most breeds of dogs and cats have their own books about their typical temperament, how to train them, and what to expect about grooming them. For the best advice, however, it’s best to go to a professional like your pet’s veterinarian.
Lisa’s Pet Styles
420 E. Olive Ave., Turlock (Phone 209-664-1424)
Stanislaus Animal Services Agency
3647 Cornucopia Way, Modesto (Phone: 209-558-7387)
Top Notch Kennels
3302 Beckwith Ct., Modesto (Phone: 209-523-3138)
Family Pet Mortuary
220 N. 1st Street, Turlock (Phone: 209-250-0114)
Caldron’s Pets Choice
3507 Tully Rd. #80, Modesto (Phone: 209-522-7387)