Spring: A time for rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal and regrowth. It's also a great time to give your dog a “spring cleaning.” Every pet can benefit from a thorough cleaning at least once a year. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Get physical. Start with a physical examination of your dog. Give a head to tail examination. Check under his nails, between his toes; look at his eyes and ears. Check for anything out of the ordinary that may have gotten stuck in his fur or skin. Are vaccinations current? What about flea and tick control? Spring is a great time to review the your dog’s records and have a yearly physical checkup.
2. Groom to perfection. Brush your dog prior to bathing to remove loose or matted fur and dirt. Brushing your dog keeps your pet’s coat clean and helps condition his skin. Keep nails trimmed on a regular basis. Overgrown nails can cause discomfort, and make it difficult to walk since he will be using his nails not his pads to balance his weight. Uncared for nails can become ingrown. Brush your dog’s teeth with pet toothpaste. Unusually bad breath could indicate tartar build up or, worse, gum disease. Never use human toothpaste with your pets – it is toxic to animals!
3. Inspect and maintain your pet’s equipment. Clean, wash and disinfect all grooming supplies. Wash your dog’s collar and leash. You may not realize this but your pet’s collar gets dirty. Dirt accumulates underneath the collar which can cause discomfort and skin problems. Keep a couple of collars on hand so that you can rotate and wash your pet’s collars.
Check your pet’s leash for breaks and the clasp for proper closure. Depending on the type of leash you have, either toss it in the wash or, if leather, condition it with Neet’s foot oil or hand cream. Clean, wash and disinfect all of your pet’s bowls, as well as the surfaces beneath the food and water bowls and containers. Consider emptying the pet food bin and disinfect it as well.
4. Check the toy box. Vow on the first day of spring to pick up all your dog’s toys and give them a quick once-over; discarding any that are no longer used or are too frayed or worn. Boil or wash with soap and hot water any toys that can withstand it; launder or otherwise clean those that cannot.
5. Scrutinize your pet’s favorite spots. Spring is a great time to get those pet beds, blankets and crate pads in the washer or out in the fresh air. Very hot water and a hot dryer work well to kill any fleas that may have found your way into a pet’s bed. If the bedding holds cedar chips, spring is the time to change them. To get pet hair off of the furniture, use a damp sponge and rake it over furniture and rugs.
6. Scoop the poop. Finally, head outdoors and grab the pooper-scooper. Clean up the feces while it’s still half-frozen and you will thank yourself on the first warm day of the season.
There are few rites more satisfying than the annual clean. A thorough spring cleaning for your pet will help prevent problems in the future and it’s just another way to show them you care.
Laura Pakis is an experienced certified professional trainer as well as the owner and founder of Acme Canine. Providing dog training and other canine-related services in Columbus, Ohio, Acme Canine earned the Angie’s List Super Service Award in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Follow this #ALExperts contributor on Twitter @acmek9.
As of February 20, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.