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In a world where our pets are more than just companions but cherished members of our families, ensuring their health and well-being becomes a top priority. From dental care to grooming routines, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to keeping our furry friends happy and healthy. Let’s dive into best practices for maintaining both your and your pet’s health.

Daily Dental Care

Like us, pets need regular dental care to prevent issues, like plaque buildup, gum disease and tooth decay. Use a pet-specific toothbrush and toothpaste, focusing on the outer surfaces where plaque tends to accumulate. This routine can help prevent pain, infection and potential health issues down the line.

Annual Veterinary Visits

Even if your pet appears healthy, annual visits are essential for maintaining their health. Some issues may not show symptoms until they’re advanced. Annual visits allow veterinarians to catch any potential issues early. During these visits, veterinarians will provide necessary vaccinations and discuss preventive care strategies, like flea and tick medication and food and exercise recommendations. 

Clean Pet Accessories

Providing your pet with clean bowls, bedding and toys is vital for their overall well-being. Wash food and water bowls daily to prevent bacteria buildup that can cause pets to get sick. Ceramic and glass bowls are better options than plastic bowls as they contain fewer chemicals and do not harbor bacteria as much. When visiting public places like parks or beaches, avoid letting pets drink from puddles and bring fresh water and bowls. Community bowls used by other dogs contain stagnant water that is dirty and can be contaminated with bacteria, mold and dirt. Cleaning bedding weekly and toys regularly, depending on usage, helps maintain a hygienic environment for your pet. Pet bedding and machine-washable toys can be washed together in the washing machine. Remember to replace toys if they become damaged to prevent choking hazards.

Regular Grooming

Grooming plays a significant role in keeping your pet healthy and comfortable. While professional grooming for certain breeds is beneficial, regular at-home grooming is suitable for all pets. This includes brushing, bathing, trimming nails and pet hair if applicable, and ear cleaning. If opting for professional grooming, be sure to maintain your pet’s care in between appointments, as well. Establishing a grooming routine and using proper tools will help keep your pet’s coat and skin in good condition. At-home grooming should be done in easy-to-clean areas like a bathroom or on a clean patio or deck.

Maintain Personal and Home Hygiene

If you allow your pet to sleep in your bed, it’s essential to keep bedding clean by washing sheets, pillows and blankets weekly. For cancer patients, consult with your doctor regarding pet sleeping arrangements, taking into account specific treatment considerations. Manage pet hair and dander in the home through regular vacuuming, washing pet bedding and grooming your pet regularly.

Practicing proper hand hygiene after handling animals or cleaning litter boxes is crucial for preventing the spread of germs. It’s also important to change litter boxes regularly and remove pet feces promptly to maintain a clean and healthy environment for both you and your pet. For patients, do not allow pets to lick wounds, central lines or any other medical devices.

Finally, staying informed about patterns of pet illnesses in your community and taking necessary precautions can help protect your pet’s health. This may include avoiding crowded places like dog parks during outbreaks.

Maintaining the health and well-being of both you and your pet requires dedication, consistency and proactive care. By following these expert tips and best practices, you can ensure that your furry companion lives a long, happy and healthy life as an integral part of your family.

Board-certified infection preventionist Isis Lamphier, MPH, CIC, contributed to this story.