Whether it’s the first flowers of the season, warmer weather or more sunlight that inspires you, don’t forget your pets as you tidy up, whittle down and get the house cleaned up after a long winter.
1. A Good, Long Bath
Perhaps, like me, you manage just short baths or quick wipe-downs during the cold weather. If so, take time to give your pets a good, long bath – using your preferred method. For example, I bathe my Border Collie (about 35 pounds) in the shower. For my big dog (about 60 pounds), that would be a disaster. Instead, we use a few five-gallon buckets full of warm water and pitchers to soak and rinse him.
If you haven’t completely soaked your pet to the skin (hard with breeds featuring dense coats), now is the time.
Personally, I brush my dogs after they dry, but I could be convinced that brushing them before a bath makes sense too.
2. Wipe Out Those Ears
I clean my dogs’ ears once a week because they both have big, erect ears and the winter winds blow a lot of dirt inside. Still, it’s a good spring cleaning task, if you don’t do it often.
Never stick anything inside your pet’s ear canal, but you can use an over-the-counter ear cleaner to loosen dirt so that you can wipe it away with a cotton ball, tissue or wet cloth.
3. Check the Nether Regions
Trust me. No one wants to go poking around their pet’s back end, but it’s important to take a quick peek to be sure everything looks okay, is clean and shows no sign of trouble (swelling, undue odor, discharge).
4. Get Rid of Eye “Goobers”
You can also use a warm, wet cloth to wipe your pet’s eyes and remove tear staining and any residue – called eye “goobers” at our house.
5. Check Pads for Cracks
Be sure to check your pet’s feet for wintertime cracks and abrasions. Snow, ice, sidewalk melt and other cold weather dangers can put your pet’s feet through a lot of wear. Before you take your pet on any warm-weather treks this spring, check her feet and pads for any injuries.
6. Trim Toenails
I often joke that my first dog required anesthesia to have her nails clipped. Our current eldest dog tolerates it, but the process requires a muzzle and lots of cheese or liver. So, when my youngest was a puppy, I swore I’d never put her or myself through the drama. Since she was first adopted, I’ve trimmed just the tiniest bit off each toenail once a week. Seriously.
Yes, I sometimes cut them too short, but most of the time, doing it this often and only taking a tiny bit makes it so much easier. She too gets a food reward for each toenail, but there isn’t a lot of fussing. It doesn’t take long, and she does not require a sedative or a muzzle.
A more experienced dog rescue friend advised me to trim nails at an angle like this (\) to avoid the quick and to encourage the nails to wear better on the bottom. I know some folks swear by a nail grinder, but I’ve never gotten brave enough to try one.