Own A Dog? Here's How You Can Maintain Pet Hygiene

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To keep your dog healthy and happy, it is important that you pay attention to their hygiene. Dogs require you to bathe them regularly, deworm them, and monitor what they eat. However, when it comes to cats, you need to approach the issue differently. Since cats clean themselves, they need little supervision, but here are some of the things you can do to maintain your cats' hygiene.

Would you go for several weeks without a shower, or brushing your teeth? No, you wouldn’t because it would be terribly uncomfortable. But, when it comes to our pets, why do we forget that they may feel the same sense of discomfort when their grooming needs are neglected? Most of us may not think twice about pet hygiene until our pets start to stink or show signs of skin infections. However, it is extremely important to attend to your pet’s hygeine, as it is essential not just for your pets’ well-being, but for your family’s too.

Here are a few reasons why.

  • Bad Odor – This is a good indication that a bath is probably long overdue and that your pet is dirty. Bad odor, if not checked, could permeate the air in your house and this could be horribly unpleasant for both your pet and for you.
  • Skin Rashes – Without regular brushing and bathing, your pet will suffer from issues like fur matting, skin dryness, and skin flaking. This could lead to infections in both you and your pet.1
  • Scratching – Pets with long nails can easily scratch their owners, guests, or even themselves. Sometimes, the scratches can be serious enough to cause bleeding. In cats, intense scratching could also result in infected wounds.2
  • Pests – If you don’t bathe and groom your pet for several weeks, your pet could be affected by a serious flea or tick infestation. These parasites can be harmful to both you and your pet.3

Now that we’ve covered how serious things can become if you neglect your pets for too long, let’s cover the basics of pet hygiene for both dogs and cats.

Basics Of Maintaining Dog Hygiene

There are many wonderful things about dogs, but hygiene isn’t one of their strongest points. Unlike cats, dogs aren’t hygiene-oriented; they will roll around in mud, relieve their bladders on your carpet every now and then, and proudly bring dirty things in from the yard.

This doesn’t have to be a problem though, provided you know how to enforce certain cleanliness rules and learn to ensure that you stay as hygienic as possible in your interactions with your dog. Here are some hygiene basics to keep your dogs squeaky clean and infection-free.

1. Deworm Your Dogs

Deworm Your Dogs

Animals like dogs that sniff, slurp, lick, and gobble anything in their paths, including dirt, trash, and poop are bound to make for ideal hosts to parasites. Acts of self-grooming, licking, wrestling, etc. can pass these unwanted guests to their playmates and companions, both canine and human. These parasites could cause diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, shortness of breath, and weight loss in both you and your pets. If your dogs have worms, then touching their stool or even just their rear can make you a host for these parasites.

Deworming your dogs regularly will make them much safer to be around. In general, it’s good to take a few extra precautions like cleaning your dogs’ rear with tissue and using a scoop and proper poop bags for disposal. Make sure you thoroughly sanitize your hands before and after attending to your dog.

2. Toilet-Train Your Dogs

Toilet-Train Your Dogs

A lot of disease-causing parasites can spread through your dogs’ urine and feces, so you definitely do not want them defecating around the house. Toilet train your puppies at an early age so that they know to differentiate between a house and a bathroom.

3. Bathe Your Dogs Regularly

Bathe Your Dogs Regularly

Dogs are not meant to keep themselves clean, so you will have to do this for them. Over the weeks, there will be plenty of dead skin cells clinging to their coats, which will start giving out a distinct smell. In addition to this, their ear glands will also give out a slight odor. All of these scents usually combine to give dogs their pleasant, comforting “doggy” smell, but if they are left unclean for too long, the scent could become extra strong. This is also usually a sign of the onset of ear or skin infections, so it is best to take action immediately.

When you bathe your dogs, make sure to check for fleas or ticks, which can be passed onto humans. Use a fine comb, a good shampoo, and an after-bath skin powder to eliminate ticks.

Caution: Do not over-bathe your dogs; they don’t need to be bathed that much. Frequent washing can irritate their skin, causing their skin to flake and their coat to lose its lustre. Veterinarians recommend that dogs need to be bathed once in every two months. Active dogs, long-haired dogs, or dogs who are lucky enough to be allowed to roll around on grass and mud should naturally be bathed more often, but the average dog is fine with one bath every two months.

4. Be Strict About Oral Hygiene

Be Strict About Oral Hygiene

The build up of tartar on your dog’s teeth could cause gum and teeth problems. If not treated immediately, these dental issues can lead to lethal bacterial infections.

Avoid this by brushing your dogs’ teeth every day. While veterinarians suggest using a toothbrush that is designed especially for dogs, a quicker way to clean their teeth daily is to use your fingers. Rub it to and fro along their teeth and their gums, and rinse their mouth with water when you’re finished. Remember to start this practice when your dog’s young, so that he can get used to it. If you start too late, your dog might be caught off guard, and respond by nibbling or biting your fingers.

5. Wash Your Dogs’ Paws Regularly

Wash Your Dogs' Paws Regularly

Your dogs’ paws pick up every grain of dirt, including pollens, mud, molds, pesticides, dust mites, and maybe even another dog’s feces. Bathing them every day is not a good idea, but washing their paws regularly is something you can do to prevent them from bringing these foreign items into the house. Use a paw soak or a gentle rub down with a wet soft cloth every day. Make sure to dry their paws well after, as a moist paw could lead to skin infections. If your dogs are long-haired, trim and brush the fur in-between their toes once a month. This practice will make them stop chewing and licking their paws often as well.

6. Brush And Groom Your Dogs Regularly

Brush And Groom Your Dogs Regularly

Dogs, especially the long-haired variety, shed plenty of hair, which will only contribute to the general dirt in the home. While certain breeds may shed less hair than others, almost all dogs will shed dander, which is the main cause of pet allergies. Brushing your dogs regularly will also alert you about skin rashes and allergies before they get too serious, and will keep their fur silky smooth!

7. Tend To Your Dogs’ Ears, Eyes, and Nails

Tend To Your Dogs' Ears, Eyes, and Nails

Every day, deposits build up in your dogs’ ears and eyes in the form of gunk. Make sure to regularly clean their ears and eye borders with a saline solution every once or twice a week. If ignored, the gunk can lead to infections. Also, ensure you keep your dogs’ nails trimmed all the time to keep deep scratches and infected wounds at bay. If you can’t do it, take them to a professional groomer.

8. Monitor What Your Dogs Sniff And Lick

Monitor What Your Dogs Sniff And Lick

Whether it’s a piece of moss, a sock, a toy or a seemingly tasty turd, a lot of dogs have the tendency to eat things they shouldn’t. While some of these may pass harmlessly through their digestive tract, a lot of these could cause serious problems. Deadly diseases like parvovirus spread through the infected dog and cat feces. Even if your dogs are well vaccinated, it is usually a good practice to monitor what they sniff and lick.

9. Clean Your Dogs’ Bed Regularly

Clean Your Dogs' Bed Regularly

It’s not just enough to bathe your dogs regularly. Washing their bed clothes, toys, towels, collar, harness, leash, and anything else they need to use on a monthly basis is equally important. This is especially important for battling fleas, as it will stop them from climbing back onto your dogs right after they’ve been bathed.

10. Feed Your Dogs Well

Feed Your Dogs Well

Feeding your dogs well will boost their immune system, equipping them with the ability to fight off infections and viruses. A healthier dog will be less likely to spread diseases to you or your family.Basics Of Maintaining Cat Hygiene

Basics Of Maintaining Cat Hygiene

Compared to dogs, cats are relatively low maintenance – which is a good thing for cat lovers. But like all of us, your feline friends could use some help every now and then. As independent as your cats may be, they will still need your help to stay healthy and happy.

1. Deworming Your Cats

Deworming Your Cats

Just like dogs, cats need to be dewormed too. There are two main types of worms that infect cats – roundworms and tapeworms. Most cats don’t usually show signs of having worms, but a serious infestation can cause a variety of problems like weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, and growth-related problems. It is recommended that kittens be dewormed every 15 days until they reach 3 months of age, because they are usually born with parasites that are passed on from their mother even before they are born (even if the mother has been dewormed). After 3 months, deworming cats depends on exposure risk. You can either take pet cats to the vet to be dewormed, or you can do it yourself at home after consulting your vet.

2. Dental Care For Your Cats

Dental Care For Your Cats

Around one-third of cats have oral cavity problems. Deposits can lead to tartar, which in turn results in inflammation and shrinking of the gums. Dental care for your cats is, therefore, important to keep the mouth healthy and prevent the buildup of plaque. Good quality dried food mechanically cleans your cats’ teeth and protects them against plaque with special supplements. You could additionally clean your cats’ teeth twice a week with a specially designed toothbrush. Ideally, you should make sure your cats are accustomed to this while they are still young.

3. Odor


Cats very rarely have body odor unless they are suffering from a medical condition. Cats could also face difficulties in grooming themselves for reasons like old age, illness or obesity. These can lead to their feces and urine getting dried up and accumulating in chunks around their private parts, which may lead to an unhealthy body odor. Indoor cats’ litter boxes generally tend to produce a distinct odor commonly known as “cat odor” if they aren’t kept scrupulously clean on a daily basis. Cats are also known to dirty the area outside their boxes if you do not change the litter regularly. This can make the cat odor inside a house much more unpleasant.

4. Brushing Your Cats

Brushing Your Cats

Shorthaired cats only need to be brushed thrice a week. Other than that, they don’t need much help in looking after their fur. However, there are still some cats that love the occasional grooming ritual. Longhaired cats like Persians need to be brushed daily in order to prevent their fur from becoming matted. Matted fur is a breeding ground for parasites. Invest in a good quality long-toothed comb and a soft wire brush for detangling of knots. Grooming is also a good way to keep a check on the health of your cat. The coat should be clean and shiny with no bald patches. Dandruff, flaky skin and encrusted or inflamed areas on the skin are usually indications of possible parasite infestations or eczema, in which case you should hurry your cats to the vet right away.

Matted fur is a breeding ground for parasites. Invest in a good quality long-toothed comb and a soft wire brush for detangling knots. Grooming is also a good way to keep a check on the health of your cat. The coat should be clean and shiny with no bald patches. Dandruff, flaky skin and encrusted or inflamed areas on the skin are usually indications of possible parasite infestations or eczema, in which case you should hurry your cats to the vet right away.

5. Bathing Your Cats

Bathing Your Cats

This can be tricky because nearly all cats are extremely averse to water and may fight fiercely against being bathed. Sticky, dirty areas of the coat should be carefully cleaned with warm water and then dried off thoroughly. Avoid bathing your cats as much as possible, but brush long-haired breeds at least once a week, if not more.

6. Regular Attention To Ears, Eyes, And Nails

Regular Attention To Ears, Eyes, And Nails

Since it is advisable to not bathe your cats, a daily cleanliness routine is very important for the maintenance of their health. Make sure to examine their ears once or twice a week, and gently clean the ear cavities using earbuds if necessary. If your cats’ ears feel hot to touch or if they are found to frequently shake their heads, take them to the vet immediately.

Use damp cleansing wipes and saline water to remove encrustations from around the corners of your cats’ eyes. Also, make sure to clip your cats’ toenails regularly. Particular attention to these details should be paid in the case of aging and longhaired cat breeds.

Note: A lot of experts recommend that it’s best to not let your pets lick your face. They also suggest that one must avoid kissing their pets’ faces or letting them climb into sofas and beds. There is a very plausible explanation for this, because animals, especially dogs, are prone to eating things off of the floor or the ground such as dead insects and animal feces. If they lick you, they could transfer germs onto your bedding.

However, one of the joys of pets is having them lick your face. That is how they show you their affection, and by kissing them in return, you show them yours. Therefore, we think it’s perfectly alright to not be too strict about this, as long as you monitor where your pets go, examine them after their walks, and remember to clean their mouths regularly. Also, don’t forget to wash your hands and your face after your pets lick you. You may be fond of being licked, but keeping your skin exposed to animal saliva for too long may not be the most hygienic thing for your health!

Pet hygeine is important.

References   [ + ]

1. Rabinowitz, Peter M., Zimra Gordon, and Lynda OdoFin. “Pet-related infections.” American family physician 76, no. 9 (2007).
2, 3. Damborg, Peter, Els M. Broens, Bruno B. Chomel, S. Guenther, Frank Pasmans, Jaap A. Wagenaar, J. Scott Weese et al. “Bacterial zoonoses transmitted by household pets: state-of-the-art and future perspectives for targeted research and policy actions.” Journal of comparative pathology 155, no. 1 (2016): S27-S40.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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