Pet owners have been urged to follow this 'simple' but often 'overlooked' hygiene routine - that can be done at home - to save up to £700 on vet bills. 

Being a pet parent can be a fun and joyful experience but it is also a considerable responsibility.

From their safety to their health, there is a never-ending to-do list to tick off to ensure that a pet's needs are met.

From dental care to paw checks, vet Rebecca MacMillan (BVetMed BSAVA PGCertSAM MRCVS) has rounded up some top tips that all conscientious owners should follow.

The veterinary expert has teamed with TrustedHousesitters to give you a handy four-step guide to do just that.

How do I take care of my pet's hygiene?

Begin toothbrushing as early as possible

“I always recommend that people start brushing their cat or dog’s teeth from a young age,” says Dr MacMillan.

“Introduce it gradually, allowing your pet to sniff or rub against the dry toothbrush, as well as lick the pet toothpaste off your fingers.

"When you start brushing, try for a second or two and then stop and praise and reward your pet. It could take several weeks of baby steps like this to get them comfortable with the process.”

The potential savings are significant, as the average cost for dental surgery on a dog is £715.52, and £772.58 for cats.

Owners can reduce the likelihood of these hefty expenses by taking a proactive approach to their pet’s dental care early on.

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Check your pet’s paws, especially in the summer months

“In the summer months, keep a close eye on your dog’s paws,” Dr MacMillan recommends.

“Grass seeds and thorns easily get stuck in the fur between the toes. From here, they can start poking into the skin and gradually work their way into their feet.

"I always advise owners to keep the fur well-trimmed on their dog’s paws and check regularly between all of their toes.”

You should also trim claws regularly, says Dr MacMillan.

The vet continued:“This is especially important in elderly animals that don’t wear their nails down as easily.

"Elderly cats are particularly prone to ingrown claws if they aren’t trimmed, which can be very painful once they cut into the pad.”

Clean your pet’s toys and accessories

You should not overlook your pet’s belongings when it comes to hygiene, Dr Macmillan has urged.

She continued: "Toys, food and water bowls, bedding and litter boxes can harbour harmful bacteria if they’re not cleaned regularly.

"Wet food bowls should be cleaned after each use, dry food bowls and water bowls should be cleaned daily, litter boxes should be cleaned daily, bedding should be cleaned once a week, and toys should be cleaned at least once a month".

The vet also urged owners to "be extra cautious" with toys that you can take outdoors.

These toys can pick up dangerous bacteria from pests like slugs or snails.

The expert recommended that owners always thoroughly clean any outdoor toys before allowing their pets to play with them again. 

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Keep skin folds clean

“If you have a dog with lots of wrinkles, make sure to keep their skin folds clean,” says Dr MacMillan.

“You can get wipes specifically for this purpose, which can help to keep secondary infections and inflammation at bay.

"Also, some breeds of cats and dogs are prone to tear overflow and staining on their face, which can cause sore, inflamed skin if not cleaned regularly.”