Self-care has become an increasingly high priority since the COVID-19 pandemic and is defined by the National Institutes of Health as taking time to improve and nurture one’s physical and mental health.
Although dogs may not be able to pamper themselves or tell their owners to run a bath, owners can offer them an assisted boost with the right treatment. University of Minnesota professors and a freshman explained how to properly care for a dog while attending college.
You make me smile, and that’s the tooth
The primary care GP at the Veterinary Medical Center and Assistant Professor Kara Carmody said owners should prioritize dental care for pets in the same way they do for themselves.
Carmody said daily brushing is great for pets because of the ability of food particles to form plaque, which hardens into tartar, a layer of bacteria on the surface of the tooth. She said this process can happen in 12 to 72 hours, which is why it’s important to brush a dog’s teeth at home in addition to taking them to a dentist once or twice a year for a cleaning. in depth.
“When tartar is allowed to sit on the teeth and below the gum line, it induces inflammation which causes redness in the gum tissue surrounding the tooth,” Carmody said. “There is also inflammation of the bone, so over time the bone disintegrates, eats away, recedes and eventually causes the teeth to become loose and then extracted.”
Carmody said it’s also important to be aware of how toothbrushing can affect an owner’s relationship with their dog, as some dogs have an overwhelmingly negative reaction to the task. She recommends brushing as a first course of action for pets, but water additives with enzymes and dental swabs can also be helpful.
“They’re designed to be bigger and more durable, basically trying to mimic the mechanical action on the teeth,” Carmody said. “I direct owners to a website called the Oral Health Council, which has products scientifically proven to best remove plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth.”
Carmody said pet owners should note the calorie density of dental treats and be especially mindful of the amount for small dogs being fed, as the treats aren’t completely nutritionally balanced.
Dogs need skin care
Sandra Koch, professor of dermatology in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, said you can gauge a dog’s overall skin health by looking at their hair. She said hair should appear shiny without mats as an indicator of healthy skin and to pay particular attention to long-haired dogs, whose fur may mask scabs or underlying issues.
In a forested area like Minnesota, ticks can also be a concern for owners who take their dogs for walks. Proper removal of ticks is important because ticks can transmit disease.
“Grab a gauze or piece of paper and hold the tick and gently twist and pull gently, focusing on the head part coming out,” Koch said. “If the owner doesn’t feel comfortable, they can always take their dog to the vet in a timely manner.”
Genetics also plays a big role because some breeds have a predisposition to certain diseases, Koch said. For example, the Shar Pei breed has lots of skin folds, which can lead to a condition called dermatitis.
“Their folds are prone to inflammation and infection or overgrowth of bacteria or yeast, which can then itch them and cause discomfort,” Koch said. “It is important to wash between the folds with regular baths.”
A Semester in the Life of an Emotional Support Puppy
Joy Edwards, a freshman who lives in Super Block on campus, has an emotional support Miniature Poodle mix named Rudy. To exercise Rudy during the colder months, Edwards and a friend will toss toys down the hall in addition to putting a line of treats in the hallways as a brain exercise, she said.
Edwards said Rudy also loves local pet store Chuck and Don’s, so whenever Edwards needs to stop for dog food, she gives Rudy all the buying power.
“When we go to the candy aisle, I kind of let him sniff everything and whatever he picks up, I’m like, ‘Okay, that’s your turn,'” Edwards said.
Edwards said Rudy stays bundled up in the colder months with a Canada Pooch snow coat and wetsuit underneath. When she has a class away from home, she says she carries Rudy in a specialized backpack.
Edwards said that due to her own food allergies, she avoids unnatural dyes and additives in her dog’s food.
“If my body reacts really badly to a lot of these unnatural things, I wonder how his little body might react, so I do a lot of research before I get anything new, especially with his treats,” Edwards said. .
Edwards had never been to the Midwest before going to college, and it was a cultural shift coming from Seattle, Minnesota. She described herself as introverted and the process of breaking the ice and meeting new people can sometimes be tiring, so having a pet was a helpful addition to the social aspect of her college experience.
“He’s been really great at creating a conversation starter with other people,” Edwards said. “Although my mindset changed from being like, ‘Oh, I need to do things for myself,’ it kind of helped me to be like, ‘Okay, I need to do things for him.'”