Clean Teeth + Ears = Healthy Pet

Our pets rely on us to keep them healthy and aside from love, a good diet, and exercise we are also responsible for their hygiene.  Bathing your cat or dog can be quite an undertaking that you may want to leave to the professionals, but cleaning their ears and teeth is simple and cost effective.


Ginger is happy to get her teeth brushed. Of course, the treat afterwards is a good incentive.

No matter the size or breed of your dog, tooth brushing can be an enjoyable experience and the sooner you start the easier it will be. Davy, my German Shepherd, has had his teeth brushed since he was a puppy.  He is now four and looks forward to our sessions. Ginger, my senior rescue Walker Hound, was recently at the vet’s for a cleaning and some dental work which was a little rough on both of us. Now she is being introduced to a good dental regimen and prefers the tooth brushing and plaque prevention water additives at home to the vet visit, for sure.

When preparing to brush your pet’s teeth start with the right tools.  You can use a pet toothbrush, a finger brush, or gauze wrapped around your finger for fragile cat teeth. Be sure to use toothpaste for pets, like the Oxyfresh products, which both Davy and Ginger approve of.  This toothpaste is tasty and safe for pets, will cause no harm if swallowed, and contains enzymes or antiseptics that help control plaque. (Human toothpaste has fluoride and artificial sweeteners in it that are harmful to pets and should not be swallowed.)

Oxyfresh is pet approved!


Get comfortable and entice your pet to snuggle up, then gently lift their lips and rub the toothbrush back and forth method for 30-60 seconds on the outside of the teeth.  Lavish your buddy with praise during the session and give them a treat afterwards to create a fear free experience.  Making this enjoyable will lead to a better experience during future veterinarian examinations, too. A water additive is another easy hands off way to try to maintain a healthier mouth and gums.  Simply follow the directions and add the correct dosage to your pet’s water bowl.


Ear cleaning is normal at my house and used as needed.  Davy likes to play fetch and tumbles around, so he gets more debris to clean out.  I check Ginger’s floppy ears regularly to be sure they are healthy and clean and just like the teeth brushing, she loves the treats afterwards.

Most cats are fine without ear cleaning, but for those who are prone to wax build-up and/or ear infections, ear cleaning is very important for their hygiene. For dogs however, ear cleaning is a necessary part of their grooming needs. Some dogs need more frequent ear cleaning than others especially dogs who are prone to ear infections.


Cleaning your pet’s ears does not require any special equipment. A good quality pet ear cleaning solution, some cotton balls or gauze, and some treats to reward your pet are all that is needed. AVOID using cotton tip applicators (Q-tips) because it is too easy to perforate the eardrum, push debris deeper, or cause trauma in the ear canal.

It’s a simple procedure: gently squirt the pet ear cleaning solution into the ear canal, massage the outside of the base of the ear for about 30 seconds to loosen the debris, then use the cotton ball or gauze to wipe away the dirt and absorb the solution. You can also saturate the gauze or cotton ball and gently rub the inside of the ear. Be sure to praise your pet and give them a treat after each cleaning.


When cleaning your pets ears or teeth you have the opportunity to assess their health. If you find noxious odors, redness, or swelling you should call your vet to get them checked.

Home health care for pets is a great way to bond with your pet, a simple and fun practice to prevent health care expenses, and a good way to get them used to being handled making it easier for a vet’s exam when necessary. Plus, your pet will thank you for your tender loving care.  



Attitude adjustments for your pet  

In my efforts to provide the best possible care for my clients’ pets and for my own, I became certified as a Fear Free Pet Professional in 2017. Their mission is to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them. Or, as they say: Take the pet out of petrified.  Below are examples of Fear Free techniques in action.

Snippy Sick Pooch

Cassidy was a terrier-type, senior dog that we walked twice a day.  She was doted on by her family and, by the time we met her, had already lived a long and happy life.  As she aged, she was diagnosed with a heart condition that required medicine twice a day.  However, the first time her owner attempted to pill her; Cassidy showed her displeasure with a nip.  

My colleague who cared for Cassidy called me to relate the incident and to request instructions for administering the medicine in a safer manner.  I drove right over to Cassidy’s house for a Fear Free “Teachable Moment.” 

Using what Fear Free calls a considerate approach, I tucked the pill into a small dollop of peanut butter on the end of a spoon and offered it to Cassidy.  She was delighted with her new treat and took her medicine willingly from that day forward.  This quick win turned a negative experience into a positive one for both Cassidy and her owners.   

Very Skiddish Vizslas

One of my clients is a busy professional whose work schedule was making it harder and harder to come home for lunch to let her dogs out.  She had a blended pet family of four dogs – her two little dogs: easy-going, people-friendly Italian Greyhounds and her friend’s dogs: high-energy Vizslas that were fearful of strangers and reactive toward me. I knew the little dogs well as I had been pet sitting for them for a while but needed to get to know the two bigger dogs. 

As always, I met the dogs in advance with the owners present and observed that they were well-trained and attentive.  Sit, stay, and go to your place commands were executed perfectly.  However, my first visit alone with them turned out to be a challenge. 

The Vizsla female was not happy with me being there.  She advanced toward me growling, barking, and kept it up for most of the visit. A thirty-minute visit went into overtime with me trying to put a slip lead on a frightened, reactive dog.  I actually hid behind the larger male Vizsla and while reaching over him  slipped a leash on the little girl.  I spoke calmly, moved slowly, and offered her plenty of treats to win her over.  The Fear Free tactics enabled me to get all the dogs outside to potty and playtime and back inside again without further ado.

Making a Good Impression

To ensure my next visit would be a pleasant experience, I knew that I needed to create good associations with these dogs.  When I arrived, I carried the Vizslas’ toys in where they could see me and they enthusiastically followed me out back for a good game of fetch. After a few more visits, they were comfortable with me and allowed me to put on their leashes to take them for a walk. 

Now these dogs are easy to handle, fun to play with, and loving toward me.  I was able to introduce another one of my dog walkers to them who they took to readily. She accompanied me three times and is now able to enjoy walking these dogs on her own.

Davy at 5 months.
Davy at 5 months.

Davy and
The Doctor

My three-year-old German Shepherd dog is named Davy.  Davy and I have been going to dog school with a top-notch trainer since he was ten weeks old.  He excels in obedience and rally.  But as a puppy, when he went to the veterinarian’s office for a visit, his boldness faded away, he became distressed, he would often pee on the floor, and when the vet examined him, he became snappy.  I had just started my Fear Free training certification and I was determined to change his dreadful veterinary experiences into happy visits.

Over the next year, Davy was trained to be relaxed and cooperative during routine veterinary procedures.  We practiced skills at home and, with my vet’s permission, repeated our lessons at regular intervals in the vet’s lobby and exam rooms.  Davy enjoyed the treats from the vet staff who often participated with us and quickly became accustomed to our simulated exams, pretend blood draws, and x-rays.  He calmly accepted a muzzle and the sounds of the clippers.  His anxiety about going to the vets was replaced with tail-wagging enthusiasm.  He now wants to explore every nook and cranny and attempts to go behind every closed door.  Most importantly, Davy has become a vet-friendly dog!

Fear Free for All

I and my staff apply Fear Free methods on every visit to ensure that each pet we care for has a calm experience with us.  We have cats come out from under the bed for snuggles, formerly fearful dogs greet us with tail wags, and owners return home to happy relaxed pets.  Proving that Fear Free techniques are simple and pet tested.