1. Fur and skin
A good bath is the beginning. Use a mild shampoo just for dogs or cats with all-natural ingredients so as not to harm the underlying skin and its lipid balance. Don’t bath them too frequently, as this can deplete the skin’s natural oils which protect the coat and make it shiny. If they are itchy, use an anti-itch preferably an oatmeal natural-based shampoo that’s chemical-free.
If there are any lesions, wounds, or infected places, pay attention to them and have them checked out by a vet if they are oozing or causing an odor. They could be infected or even cancerous if lumpy or smelly.
Keep the fur well-groomed and de-matted. Use a special comb and sticker brush plus de-matting tools as appropriate. A fine tooth comb is great to check the undercoat near the skin especially for any ticks, mites or stickers from grass and bushes.
Unlike humans, dogs and cats don’t brush and floss daily. Keeping them in good dental health helps with chewing and digestion and helps avoid “doggy breath.” It ultimately keeps their vital organs protected from the build-up of bacteria in the mouth which, when swallowed, can sometimes lead to internal problems over time.
Keep your furry friend on a healthy diet and avoid the urge to feed them table scraps. This keeps their teeth and general health better in the long run, as good natural-based pet foods contain the best types of nutrients for the body which generally reduce the plaque build-up on teeth as well.
It is helpful if you can use a doggie tooth brushing system to clean their teeth, but often I have found that is hard to do. They often resist your best efforts to clean their teeth that way. Giving your dog a regular dental chew to crunch on both feels like a treat to them and works to remove the buildup of plaque which leads to cavities and bacteria. Even giving them a safe rawhide bone to chew on can be good for them. Think of it as a big toothbrush that becomes a toy or new game for them at the same time!
It is important to take your dog or cat to the veterinarian for regular teeth cleaning visits at least once a year. These steps will keep them in good health and have comfortable chewing so they don’t experience any pain with loose or damaged teeth. They can’t always tell us when things aren’t working quite right! But their behavior can give you clues.
As part of your normal grooming routine, be sure to check the ear area. At least weekly it’s important to clean and protect the inner ear flaps (if needed) and the ear canal from wax build-up and any other problems that might arise. Pets with long hair around their ears may be especially vulnerable to ear challenges, so it’s important to make sure to keep the ear area well-groomed and cleaned.
What you will want to do is lift the ear flap and look to see if there is any dirt or wax or black gunk or specks in the flap area or in the ear canal. Take a whiff of the ear canal area, especially if there is dirt and debris.
Different types of odors mean different things. A funky damp smell can mean just general cleaning is needed and especially happens with long floppy ears that cover the ear canal area and keep it dark and moist, a haven for bacteria, fungus, and waxy buildup. A rancid odor could indicate mites or a fungal or bacterial infection A yeast infection will often have a sweeter odor but still not a normal smell.
Are there red or infected areas? Does your dog or cat seem to be scratching at its ears frequently? If so, that indicates there is probably some kind of a problem. It could be because of ear mites, a bacterial or yeast infection causing discomfort and pain. Or perhaps something like a grass awn or other prickly sticker from outdoors has attached itself inside the ear canal area. Even possibly a tick has entered the area. Sometimes it can even be caused by a food allergy or reaction to stress of some kind.
If you are not sure about an ongoing problem, it is always wise to consult a vet. But for general stinky, dirty ears with no other visible problems, it is good to maintain ear hygiene by using an all-natural ear wash (like Dancing Pet Naturals Ear Wash) to cleanse and soothe the area. As well, weekly treatment with an ear wash will prevent waxy buildup and stinky ears and keep the ear canal free of annoying debris and smelling good. This also helps deter any ear mites or other critters that might be looking for a place to camp out!
In summary, get into a regular grooming routine and give your furry friend a general check over from top to bottom as you are petting them and enjoying their company. Then they will get used to your touch as you lift up their ears to check inside, massage around the head and ear area, pull back their fur to look down to the skin and undercoating, brush or inspect their teeth and gum areas, and check more vulnerable areas for any problems. Your best friends and fur babies will thank you for loving them with your touch and tender care for years to come!