Although you may not pay any attention to your pet’s hygiene until they start to stink or they scratch you while playing, it is extremely important that you attend to their needs in this area by keeping them well groomed (bathed and clipped). Would you go several weeks without showering or trimming your nails? Probably not; it would be terribly uncomfortable. And yet, you expect your pets to suffer through such ill treatment. While you may not have to wash dogs, cats, or ferrets (for example) as frequently as you wash yourself, and many animals have at least some method of attending to their own cleanliness, the onus is on you to make sure that your animals are in good health and that they enjoy proper hygiene. Here are just a few reasons you shouldn’t neglect your duties as a pet owner in this regard.
1. Smell. When your pets start to smell, it is a good indicator that they are in desperate need of a bath. But if it gets to this point, a bath is probably long overdue. Failing to bathe your pets regularly (dogs in particular) can result not only in odor problems, but also issues with fur (matting, shedding, etc.) and skin (dryness, flaking, or itching). This is a sorry state for your animals and it is clear that you need to pay more attention to their hygienical needs. Try setting a grooming schedule if your only way to keep track of their cleanliness is by scent. And be sure to trim long-haired pets during the summer months when they can easily overheat.
2. Scratching. Pets with long nails can easily scratch their owners (or guests, or each other). And when this occurs (with cats, especially) it can lead to infected wounds. However, this issue can easily be addressed with frequent nail trimming. If you find it too difficult to manage this task on your own, you’ll simply have to shell out for a groomer to attend to it. Some owners may consider declawing pets, but this is a mistake. Having claws is essential to maintaining species behavior in some cases (cats, of course, need their claws for climbing). And if your animals are outdoors at all, their nails may be needed for protection.
3. Illness and infection. Poor hygiene for any animal can lead to an increased risk for both illness and infection. Animals that get to this stage are generally considered to be neglected. So unless you want to be reported for animal abuse, you had better attend to the hygiene of your pets before they get to this point.
4. General upkeep. If you don’t wash your pet for several weeks and then you begin to find fleas and ticks around the house, you really have no one to blame but yourself. If you had been paying attention, you could have prevented such an occurrence (or at least caught it before it got out of hand).
5. Dental health. This is one area that many pet owners neglect simply because they don’t know any better. And for most pets it doesn’t become an issue until they get older, anyway (if they are eating predominantly dry kibble, for example). However, if your pet’s teeth are yellow or brown in color, they have lost teeth, or they seem to have trouble chewing, then you are probably looking at some serious dental hygiene issues. These problems can be easily avoided by arranging cleanings with your veterinarian or simply brushing your pet’s teeth.