This Is Plastics: Plastics Make it Possible: Helping Veterinarians Keep Pets Safe and Healthy


Plastics Make it Possible: Helping Veterinarians Keep Pets Safe and Healthy

Learn how veterinarians use plastics to provide treatment and long-term care for pets.


From cats and dogs to reptiles and exotic animals, roughly 70 percent of all households in the United States own a pet, requiring visits to the veterinarian to keep pets safe and healthy. Durable plastics play a key role in veterinary medicine and mobility aids for pets, allowing furry friends to stay active and continue walking, moving and playing throughout their lives.

Plastics are essential components of tools in veterinary offices

The unique needs of animal care require veterinary offices to leverage the power of durable, hygienic plastics. Vet offices use single-use plastics to deliver safe, sanitary care through applications like syringes, face masks and gowns for vet health professionals. Additionally, tools made from plastics allow veterinarians to safely trim animals’ fur to conduct proper medical exams. Electric razors and hair trimmers use plastics to encase electrical components to provide a safe and quiet way to trim an animal’s fur without injuring or startling them. Plastics also make these trimmers easy to clean after use, preventing the spread of bacteria and disease.

Similarly, veterinary offices often use ‘puppy pads’ on floors or in crates with animals to quickly soak up fluids and prevent the spread of germs. Puppy pads are made with layers of gauze and absorbent hydrogels, finished with a plastic layer to properly seal the bottom of the pad. These pads are especially helpful for pets recovering from surgery and provide effective cleanup for messes from sick pets of all ages waiting in veterinary offices. The durable plastic layer helps protect the pads from destruction by the animals while remaining lightweight and easy to use. Puppy pads helpful for younger or sick dogs and can be made with recycled materials, promoting sustainability alongside hygiene.

In addition to regular veterinary checkups, pets also need proper dental care. Veterinarians use ultrasonic or hand scalers to clean a pet’s teeth safely and efficiently. These tools are often equipped with handles made from plastics, ensuring that the tool is lightweight and easy to maneuver, providing a safe dental cleaning for pets of all sizes. In between professional teeth cleanings, pet owners can use gentle toothbrushes with plastic handles or silicone finger brushes to easily remove bacteria from a pet’s teeth, ensuring their mouth and gums stay healthy.

Pets rely on plastics for proper support through injury and older age

In addition to supporting hygiene and promoting sustainability at veterinary offices, plastics allow older and injured animals with disabilities to continue to live fully through mobility aids such as slings, boots or wheelchairs. Slings and harnesses use durable plastic fabrics, such as nylon, to help older or injured animals walk and move around. Plastics ensure that slings are lightweight and comfortable for dogs while providing the durability to withstand daily wear and tear. For pets with injured paws, boots made from nylon or thermoplastics are an effective way to protect paws while remaining easy to clean and offering comfort for walking. Finally, for pets that have lost control of their back legs from disability, injury or older age, wheelchairs help pets regain their mobility. Some animal wheelchairs can promote sustainability in veterinary care even further: an innovative dog-lover in Taiwan now designs wheelchairs for shelter dogs using repurposed PVC water pipes. Repurposing plastic pipes helps promote a circular economy and keep waste out of landfills, providing a convenient, durable, hygienic and sustainable way to keep dogs and cats running and playing.

In veterinary medicine and day-to-day care, plastics are utilized to create strong yet lightweight mobility aids and medical tools, providing the best treatment possible for animals. From electric razors and puppy pads to wheelchairs and boots, plastics support animals through every stage of life.

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