12 DIY Tasks This Vet Says You Can Do at Home


4. Sanitary clipping. It doesn’t take a degree in grooming to learn how to trim your dog’s overgrown eyebrows or your cat’s dingleberry-trapping butt hair. The last thing we want is a dog effectively blinded by her hair falling into a swimming pool or a kitty constipated because there’s too much poop stuck to her backside. (I’ve seen both happen.) Buy an electric clipper to accomplish these regular tasks safely.

5. Ear cleaning. All young pets should learn to have their ears handled and cleaned. Some may resist, but with persistence, almost all will learn, even as adults.

6. Tooth brushing. This is my number one recommendation for anyone who doesn’t like spending hard-earned cash on expensive, extensive dental cleanings. Make those cleanings simple quickies with few complications by brushing your dog's teeth or cat's teeth regularly. Daily is best and — so you know — weekly is, obviously, not as effective.

7. Pilling. Learn early on how to give pills to your cat or dog. This will save you lots of time, money and frustration!

8. Taking a temperature. Buy a digital thermometer and mark it with a Sharpie. This is now your pet’s dedicated thermometer. Coat it with a smear of petroleum jelly and, whenever you’re worried your pet has a fever, insert the skinny end into the rectum about an inch. Normal temperature for a dog or cat is 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. You can learn how to do this. Nothing’s ever too gross to do if it’s in the service of your pet’s health, right?

9. Stopping the bleeding. It’s not hard to stem the tide of basic bleeding. Toenails trimmed too far will quickly respond to some simple pressure and perhaps a bit of flour, but more serious injuries may require tourniquets and lots of direct pressure until you can get to the veterinarian's office.

By the way, you can and should know how to use tourniquets on both humans and animals. This is a lifesaving first-aid procedure that requires no advanced degree… just some sometimes-not-so-common common sense.

10. Offering simple first aid. Speaking of tourniquets… simple first aid is within your grasp. Almost every community hospital offers a course. Some progressive veterinary hospitals offer them, too. Here, you’ll learn how to stabilize pets before bringing them in for professional vet care. Dealing with bleeding, seizing dogs, hit-by-car catastrophes and near drownings is something any dedicated layperson can learn.

11. Administering simple injections and subcutaneous fluids.It's not hard. It just takes willingness. Administering subcutaneous fluids, insulin or allergy medication isn't difficult. Your veterinarian will show you how!

12. Monitoring diabetic pets. It’s impractical for pet owners to go to the vet every time they need a pet’s blood sugar monitored or urine checked. Checking your diabetic pet's levels at home is now more doable than ever for highly motivated pet owners.

Sure, some of these seem tough, but I promise you can learn! Just don’t: dose your dogs with oil and milk when you think they’ve been poisoned, give them turpentine dips to kill mange, remove ticks with a flame (ouch!), offer rat poison to prevent heartworm or chewing tobacco for deworming. And whatever you do, don’t offer industrial-grade grease as a fly repellent.

As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and good deeds forgone. (I added the last part.)

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