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THE BASICS OF GROOMING YOUR ANIMAL COMPANION
By Khrysta Imperial Rara
There are three areas that have to be constantly checked for regular and basic grooming at home, according to our guest last Nov. 17, Dr. Rey Oronan, who is currently Faculty-in-Charge at the UP Veterinary Hospital. You’ll have to check the EARS, the EYES and the NAILS of your dog or cat.
I have known Doc Rey since the early 2000’s when I used to bring my cats and dogs to Animal House along Aurora Boulevard and he used to work there. He was new at the time, and he took good care of my two-month old black kitten Bagheera whom nobody thought would survive a bad case of kitten flu or distemper. I had always wanted a black cat and I told Doc Rey Bagheera must live. Bagheera survived that crisis, thanks to Doc Rey.
Another instance that stands out in my memory was when my white and brown Persian cat Amon-Ra was confined due to kidney failure. After 3 days, I asked Doc Rey about his chances of survival. Amon-Ra had been in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. That night, Doc Rey took a long look at Amon-Ra and said, “Take him home now. He could go anytime.”
He was right. Amon-Ra passed away in the early morning. But thanks to Doc Rey's foresight and compassion, I was able to be with my cat and comfort him during his last hours.
GROOMING THE EARS
Doc Rey, says long-eared animals are prone to ear infections from microbes so you’ll have to clean their ears when you give them a bath. It is also important to dry their ears. There are products you can buy over the counter to clean their ears. But if you want to use home remedies, diluted vinegar and diluted agua oxynada would be good at a 1:10 ratio, that is, one ml of vinegar or agua oxynada to 10 ml of water. You will know when the ears are dirty because they become covered with black dirt, or could smell bad, or cause pain to the animal. If the animal has an ear wound and the wound is too deep or big, bring him/her to a veterinarian.
The ears of an adult dog or cat can be cleaned twice a week. But if the animal has ear infection, doctors usually recommend ear cleaning and medication twice a day. The ears of puppies and kittens, on the other hand, should only be cleaned when they reach 2 months old.
Caution: Do not use soap and water to clean the ears. Alcohol is not good either because it can irritate the ears. Baby oil feels hot on the skin and so could result in a burning sensation. Do not use cotton buds. Use cotton balls or your fingers instead.
CLEANING THE EYES
Healthy eyes are clear and glassy. The presence of excessive mucus could be an indication of eye infection or dehydration. Or it could mean infection in some part of the body like in the case of Upper Respiratory Tract Infection.
CAUTION: Cleaning the eyes with water may cause infection. It’s better to use eyewash or other medicated eye products that can be bought over the counter.
CUTTING THE NAILS
Nails always have to be clipped short because animals can accidentally scratch themselves, other animals in the home or you. Cats and kittens usually play war games among themselves and they use their paws and nails a lot. Someone could get accidentally scratched in the eyes by a playmate with long nails.
To clip the nails, you could use a nail clipper or nail cutter. Even the ones people use could work as long as you do it properly. This means clipping the nail above the “quick” or the pink part of the nail which could cause bleeding when cut.
HERBAL HOME REMEDIES
An interesting question came from listener Grace Arevalo of Quezon City – What herbal remedies can be used to treat colds, diarrhea and skin problems?
To my pleasant surprise, Dr. Rey gamely entertained the question and was very familiar with herbal remedies!
“Cats really don’t like citrus but Vitamin C is the best remedy for colds. So you can give Vit. C syrup with a syringe,” he said, adding that there is no such thing as an overdose of vitamin C because the body will just automatically excrete the excess fluids.
As for diarrhea, he says the cause must be identified first. If it’s due to the presence of worms, then the animal has to be dewormed. Or if it’s due to protozoa or amoeba, then proper treatment is needed.
Doc Rey said that some cats don’t digest certain foods very well, like rice for instance. I told him that when my cats have a bum stomach, I boil a piece of bark from the star apple or kaimito tree and give them 12 ml twice a day. It always works.
Boiling some guava leaves to make tea also works as a treatment for diarrhea but I put in a bit of honey to soften the bitter taste.
As for skin problems, Doc Rey says you must first find out the cause of the problem. If it’s fleas, then you must get rid of the fleas. He recommends boiling the leaves of madre de cacao or cacahuete and rinsing the animal with it.
Since we are in a tropical country, fleas are present in the soil all year round. If your dog or cat goes outdoors, or if he or she has contact with another animal with access outdoors, then the fleas could transfer to him/her.
We were already trying to beat the time at this point so I was a not able to add that recently, my friend Leng Velasco shared with me her remedy for mange. All that’s needed is Acapulco leaves ground and mixed in virgin coconut oil. Wipe this concoction on the animal’s body using cotton balls every three days until the mange is gone. I noticed that the Acapulco – vco concoction also got rid of the fleas and kept them away for a long time!
Guava leaves can also rescue troubled skin. I boil four guava leaves with a clove of garlic in a cup of water then use cottonball to wipe the concoction in the animal’s skin. It refreshens them and heals wounds since guava is an antiseptic.
Another listener asked for bathing tips. Doc Rey said dogs could be given a bath twice a week. A more frequent bath could damage the skin and strip it of essential oils. Long-haired animals have more sensitive skin and it’s the hair that protects them, he said.
If the weather is cold, bathe him during the warmest part of the day – like at noon – and use warm water. Then dry him with a towel or hair dryer. It’s better than drying with an electric fan because this gives off cold or cool air.
For hairballs, the best natural solution is unprocessed and unsweetened pineapple juice which could be given with a syringe or papaya fruit which could be mixed with their food, according to Doc Rey.
He also strongly recommends brushing the animal’s hair daily because this provides a good opportunity for both of you to bond. You will also be able to see if your dog or cat has skin problems like fleas or wounds. Early treatment can improve your animal’s quality of life.
For his parting remarks, Doc Rey reminded the audience that special considerations have to be taken into account for the Christmas season.
“Puppy proof your house. Dog proof your house,” he stated. This means that your animals must not have access to decors that could prove toxic to them.
“Make sure that leftover food is properly stored,” he adds. Among the foods that could prove hazardous to animals are wine and grapes, chocolates, fatty foods and small and sharp bones. Salty foods must be avoided at all cost.
Unfortunately, we had to end the program at this point. But we agreed that there had to be a second part to this because there’s still a lot of things that people have to know in order to keep their animals safe during the Christmas holidays.