When you have a dog or a cat as a family member, grooming is an essential part of proper animal care. Whether you are owned by a canine or a feline, a long, medium or short coated creature, regardless of pointy or floppy ears, or whether your pet is a couch potato or a swimmer, consistent grooming will help keep your pet in tip top shape.
The most obvious step of the grooming process is the bath. Bathing your pet is something you can do at home, or you have the option of taking your pet to a professional. If you choose to bathe your pet at home it’s important to purchase a shampoo specifically for animals so that you have the correct pH level for your pet’s skin (human shampoo is much more acidic).
Frequency, however, is also a key factor. While some animals might need bathing more than others (e.g. dog’s with very oily coats, such as Basset Hounds), you do not want to bathe your pet too regularly. As a general rule of thumb, your dog needs a bath no more than once a month. Cats need even fewer baths. Too much bathing can have a negative effect the oil glands which in turn can dry out the skin and coat.
Keeping your pet’s ears clean is also a significant part of the grooming process. After bathing, make sure to gently wipe the animal’s ears with a cotton ball to prevent moisture from settling into the ear canal. If your dog has ears that hang in a pendulum fashion, regularly check the ears (e.g. once a week) to make sure that they are clean, especially if your dog is a swimmer or is prone to allergies. If you find your pet scratching its ears, see any debris (brown or black), or if there is a pungent odor, be sure to take your pet to the veterinarian for proper treatment.
Pet’s nails also need to be monitored and kept at a short length. Nails that are too long cause pain when walking by putting pressure on the toes and feet. Also, if not regularly trimmed the quick of the nail will grow out, making it difficult to keep the nails at a proper length. Animals that are walked frequently on sidewalks or roads, or have a lot of activity, often wear down the nails themselves. For less active pets, however, the nails will grow faster and longer. Regardless of your pet’s activity level, developing a habit of checking the nails will aid in keeping them a comfortable length.
Lastly, brushing your pet will make a tremendous difference in your pet’s coat. Whether short or long haired, brushing removes dirt, stimulates oil gland production for a shinier coat and new hair growth, removes dead hair, and prevents the formation of mattes. It will also help with shedding as it collects the dead hair while brushing. There are a variety of brushes for dogs and cats available, so you can find one that best suits your pet’s coat, whatever the coat length, thickness, or the size of the animal.
As a bonus, the simple act of brushing can lead to a bonding time for you and your pet. The time spent together, the pampering, and the attention received often pleases your cat or dog. If you find that your pet is stressed during any of the process, giving a treat for good behavior both during and after provides a positive association with grooming.
Establishing a grooming schedule will not only aid in keeping your pet looking attractive but
healthy and comfortable, as well. So pick out your favorite grooming supplies, grab a bag of
treats, and when you finish show off your beautiful companion with pride.