Grooming your pet can sometimes seem like a daunting task, especially with easily excitable animals. Pets with long luxurious coats can be especially challenging sometimes. Grooming should always be fun for you and your pet so be sure to do it when they are calm, maybe after a nice walk or extended play time. Following the steps below may help alleviate some stress and help make grooming more of a bonding and enjoyable experience.
When you see your dog rolling around on the ground and licking and chewing at her fur she is trying to say “clean me!” There are multiple steps to follow to make sure you come out with a clean, shiny happy pet. You should always be sure to thoroughly brush their coat before bathing. Pets with short smooth coats generally only need to be brushed once a week. Use a soft rubber brush (similar to a puppy brush) to rub them down and get rid of some of that dead skin. Then use a bristle brush to get rid of the dead hair. After that, give a quick polish with a chamois cloth and you are ready to go!
Cats, for the most part, are very clean and fastidious creatures. They will groom themselves multiple times a day and will only need some help on occasion. Try and brush every week to get them used to the experience. Eventually, when reinforced with treats and praise, they will come to love that time with you. First use a metal brush to get out any tangles. Then use a rubber brush to get rid of dead skin and hair. Be sure to be gentle around the chest and belly. If your cat has long fur you will need to focus on the tail as well. Part the fur down the middle and work each side.
If your pet has a long luxurious coat you will need to use a slicker brush to get out the tangles and mats on a regular basis. Next, use a bristle brush to get rid of the dead hair and skin. You may then need to trim the fur around the feet to help reduce further matting.
The ASPCA recommends bathing your dog every three months or so but you may need to do this more often if your dog loves spending all her time rolling around outside trying to pick up every stick, smell and speck of dirt she can. Cats will sometimes get into something sticky and smelly and could also benefit from a bath. Always make sure to brush your pet before giving a bath and be sure to use a mild shampoo when bathing. Fill the tub with a few inches of lukewarm water and use a large cup or spray nozzle to wet them from head to toe. Massage the shampoo into the fur from head to toe, being sure to avoid the ears, eyes and nose, then rinse with clean water. Some dogs like to wiggle and nip when being bathed so it may be beneficial to place a floating toy in the water for them to focus on while getting a bath. After the shampoo has been fully rinsed out, dry with a large towel or blow dryer being sure to monitor the heat while doing so.
Some dogs have extra wrinkly skin on their faces and the folds in their skin will need special attention. Wipe in the folds with a damp cloth and be sure to dry thoroughly. Dogs with droopy ears may need extra attention paid to this area as well. Use a cotton ball moistened with water or mineral oil and wipe out any excess dirt you can see. Be sure not to go too deep and hit the ear canal. Dry thoroughly with a clean cotton ball. Check your pet’s ears regularly to be sure they do not have excess dirt and wax buildup.
Trimming your pets’ nails can be tricky. It is important to get them used to you touching and handling their paws so that they are comfortable before trying to do this yourself. Giving treats while touch and gripping paws and lower legs helps them to realize you mean them no harm. Use a guillotine type nail trimmer for dogs or a special cat nail trimmer for your cat to clip the very tip of the claw. Be sure to avoid the quick, which is a thick vein that runs down into the claw. This is generally easy to see in white claws but some pets have black opaque claws that can make visualization difficult. It is best to trim small amounts at a time to avoid nicking the vein. If you do happen to hit it and get some bleeding, you can treat it with some styptic powder. Your pet will of course not be happy about all this so be sure to stop if they become stressed and reaffirm good behavior with treats and praise.
While brushing and bathing your pet make sure to use happy tones in your voice and praise them often during the process. Giving a delicious treat afterwards will help associate the process with happy feelings.