Taking care of your pet might be a scary prospect for you right now. With the social distancing that we're all trying to do and the closure of so many places, you might be more than a little worried bout taking care of your pet during quarantine.
Taking Care of Your Pet During Quarantine #StayHome
There are a lot of things to consider. What if something goes wrong? What if the dog does something extra "doggy"? What if the cat decides to finally really try to eat the houseplant in the corner? What about going for a walk but staying safe? Today, we're going to talk about taking care of your pet during the quarantine, from basic care to treating minor injuries.
Taking Care of Your Pet 101
First and foremost, let's talk about the basics. These will help give you the best chance of avoiding injuries or medical issues that will have you hoping your vet happens to be open. These are essentially the basic maintenance steps you need to take to keep your pet in tip-top shape.
First and foremost, feed your dog or cat good food. That bargain basement stuff you can get is trash. It's literally the bottom of the barrel. The companies manufacturing this food basically put in anything that could not be used for human consumption, and when you think about the fact that "pink slime" is actually a thing humans eat, it's a pretty bad thought. When you feed your animal garbage food, it can lead to garbage health, so give your dog and/or cat high-quality food with really protein sources like whole chicken, beef, or fish and carbs like brown rice, potato, sweet potatoes, and peas.
Remove All Dangers
Hopefully, you're already doing this, but if you aren't, now is the time. Remove each and every danger to your pet that you can think of. If you have dogs, be sure all cleaning supplies and other toxic materials are well out of reach or in a locked cabinet. If you have cats, remove all houseplants that are not cat-safe. Be hyper-vigilant about chew toys, as well. If your dog has chew toys that have been worn down to a size that would allow him to swallow it, throw it out. If your dog chews rawhides, watch him carefully to prevent him from swallowing them. Limiting danger now is the best way to avoid an accident down the line.
Regular grooming is very important for pets. It's especially key for dogs. Be sure to trim your dog's nails about every other week, and give him a bath as required to keep him clean. Regular grooming helps prevent things like broken nails and skin conditions from developing.
While grooming, don't forget to brush your dog's teeth and clean his ears. Dirty ears are an invitation to infection, and there's nothing you can do about that from your home. Brushing your dog's teeth helps keep his teeth and gums healthy, which limits the possibility of oral injury.
The only thing you really need to do for your cat is to clip her nails. They pretty much handle the rest.
Just because your dog isn't going out as much doesn't mean you should stop giving him his flea and tick preventative or heartworm preventative. All it takes is one flea bite to give him worms, one tick bite to give him Lyme Disease, and one mosquito bite to give him heartworm disease. All of these are problems on their own, but with the real possibility of lack of access to vet care, they become even worse.
Cats don't care about exercise in the traditional sense. Just wave a feather at them and they'll expend enough energy to get in their daily exercise. Dogs, on the other hand, are a different matter. Even the most sedentary couch potato of a dog needs exercise. If you have a fenced-in backyard, take your pooch out for some playtime, this is the time to utilize it for your high-energy dog. Take him out and play fetch until he's spent. He'll be happier for it since he can't go on as many walks.
For the consummate layabout, a simple walk will do.
Taking Care of Your Pet in Various Emergencies
Before going any further take note of this very important point. If your vet is open take your pet to see their vet. Don't attempt to treat them at home unless you absolutely have to.
Pets are a lot like toddlers. You can do your very best to protect them, but they're still really good at finding ways to get into any and everything that could potentially injure them or make them sick. In the event that your pet gets sick or injured, there are things you can do to help him, provided the problem is mild. Remember: YOU ARE NOT A VET. You can only do so much. DO NOT try to do more.
Should your pet break a nail, it's important that you do a few things immediately. First and foremost, do not get bitten! Only attempt to help your pet if you are relatively certain they won't bite you because of the pain.
Stop the Bleeding
A broken nail can look like a murder scene. Nails bleed a lot. While your dog won't bleed to death, you might think he will. You have to stop the bleeding in order to see the damage. If you have styptic powder, immediately apply it to the broken nail to stop the bleeding.
Assess the Nail
Once the bleeding has stopped, look at the nail to see how bad it is. Is it broken in the middle or at the base? Was it a clean break or is some of the nail still attached? Once you have that figured out, it's time to do a little fieldwork.
Treat the Nail
If the break was clean, the styptic powder will be enough treatment. Once the bleeding has stopped you're basically finished. There's no need to apply any sort of topical antibiotic or wrapping. Your pet will just pull it off.
However, if the piece of the nail is still attached at the break, you'll have to remove it. ONLY do this if the nail is barely holding on at the break site. If it was only a partial break or a fracture, leave the nail alone. If, however, the nail is hanging on by a very small piece, you can use your dog nail clippers to clip it off. Don't worry, if the nail is barely holding on at the break, the painful part is already over. Again, after you're finished just leave it alone.
Taking Care of Your Pet During Quarantine #StayHome
Swallowing a Toxic Item or Substance
If you believe your pet swallowed a toxic substance, the first thing you should do is contact ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. They are your best bet for guidance on how to proceed. However, if your dog swallowed something like a piece of chocolate, pill, or small object you can induce vomiting to get it out of him quickly. Notice I said dog because cats are notoriously uncooperative. Trying to induce vomiting on your cat could lead to a serious scratch or bite.
To induce vomiting, give your dog 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and wait 15 minutes. If he doesn't vomit, give him two more tablespoons. Eventually, he'll vomit and hopefully bring back up whatever it was that he swallowed to begin with.
Scratch or Small Laceration
If your dog or cat manages to get a small cut or laceration, it's important to clean it thoroughly to reduce the chance of infection. Simply cleanse the area with warm, soapy water as soon as you notice the cut, and you're done. Only more serious cuts or wounds need things like wrapping or topical ointments, and you'd need to take your pet into the vet for that kind of care, anyway.
Taking Care of Your Pet While in Quarantine is Doable in Certain Circumstances
If you have limited vet care access during this quarantine period, the above tips can help you handle minor issues that might arise. The best thing to do is prevent sickness or injury before it starts, so pay special attention to the prevention section of this post to give you and your dog the best chance of NOT having to do any at-home emergency care. However, if something does happen, the above issues can be treated at home. ONLY do this if you cannot get to the vet. Remember, it's always better to have your vet work on your animal.