12 DIY Tasks This Vet Says You Can Do at Home

Dog in Bath
If your pet has skin issues, your veterinarian may ask you to give her therapeutic baths at home.

As a rule, we veterinarians aren’t big on the DIY approach to animal health care. We’ve known too many pets who suffered the wrath of makeshift splints, botched wart removals, backwoods tail-docking methods and strange parasite-killing concoctions (some of which killed more than just the fleas).

Which is why, excellent intentions notwithstanding, we always urge pet owners to seek professional veterinary counsel before embarking on an irreversible course of DIY care. Not only is it heartbreaking to see pet owners lose pets to conditions that might’ve been treated, it’s gut-wrenching to tell a client they’re responsible for it.

But, as always, there are two sides to the story. There are plenty of times when a DIY approach is warranted — even preferable — to a vet’s more formal interventions. Further, seeing as veterinary medical expenses can add up, it also stands to reason that pet owners might want to take on some of the workload.

C'mon, You Can Do It

For your edification, I’ve included 12 of these measures — including the simplest and the not-so-simple — in the following list:

1. Nail trimming. Dare I confess it? I really hate trimming a pet’s toenails in the exam room. Why? Not only is it difficult to do with a pet who rarely gets them trimmed, pets who only get it done during their annual visit tend to hate the procedure with a passion. No wonder she hates coming to the veterinarian's office!

Granted, some clinics don’t mind the nail trims as much as I do! Unless you’re willing to take them there or to the groomer every few weeks (more for some, less for others), you, my dear pet owner, can be responsible for this task. Ideally, you would teach your pet as a pup or kitten to accept this procedure (which we will gladly show you how to do).

2. Hairball management. Buy a good brush (I like the Furminator) and get all that hair off before she does. Bathing a hairball-prone cat also helps remove loose hair, lest it end up sitting uncomfortably in the stomach and later, being spewed out. Other simple solutions include hairball formula foods and oral petroleum-based gel products.

3. Therapeutic bathing. Yes, sometimes you need to look beyond the supermarket oatmeal-formula shampoos and ask your vet about therapeutic bathing for pets with skin issues. In fact, bathing your dog or cat twice weekly (or more for some!) might be just the thing she needs to control that skin condition. Make sure you let your veterinarian know you’re willing.


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