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At PetPeople we are a group of dedicated and passionate pet people. We are so enthusiastic to engage our customers, exchange information, and work together to solve common pet problems. We hope you will continue to come to us with questions, problems or situations regarding your pets’ care. It is our goal to be a partner with you and your veterinarian in the health and well-being of your pet.
While we are happy to advise you and share our knowledge with you, we would never propose that our recommendations be used instead of consulting with your veterinarian about any concerns or issues. You know your pet better than anyone, and should always use your best judgement regarding obtaining the best care for your pet. ©2015 PetPeople Enterprises, LLC
Grooming is an important part of your pet’s health, as regular brushing and combing help remove dead hair, dirt, and prevent matting. Dogs and cats who are regularly groomed tend to have a healthier and shinier coat because it stimulates the blood supply to the skin.
Grooming your pet can also be a good way to bond and get your hands on them weekly to check for any signs of bumps, cuts, or other health problems.
Many individual breeds have special grooming needs, so for a more complicated cut or for specialized needs you may want to consult a professional groomer. For basic brushing and bathing, or for the pet whose grooming is a little less involved, owners should practice the tips below for a stress free grooming experience and a happy and healthy pet.
Your Neighborhood Store for Pets
Make Grooming as Enjoyable as Possible – for You and Your Pet!
Grooming sessions should always be fun, or else you and your pet may come to dread them! Make sure to start grooming when your dog is relaxed and happy, especially if your pet is the excitable type. Until your pet is used to being handled, keep sessions short – 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Once your pet is used to it, you can gradually lengthen the sessions until it becomes routine for your pet. If your pet is unsure about being handled, start with short sessions that don’t involve brushing or bathing just yet – start your sessions by gently petting every part, including potentially sensitive areas such as ears, belly, feet, and tail.
The Basics – Brushing & Bathing
Before you bathe, don’t forget to brush! A good brushing before a bath removes the loose hair and significantly improves the effectiveness of the shampoo in cleaning all the way down to the skin. It also cuts down significantly on the amount of hair that comes out during bathing, making less of a mess!
Regular grooming with a brush or comb will help keep your pet’s fur in good condition. Brushing helps remove dirt and dead hair, spreads natural oils throughout the coat, prevents tangles and mats, and helps keep skin clean and irritant free. Brushing is also a great time to check for fleas – little black specks that look like dirt, especially near the base of the tail, are a sure sign that fleas have taken up residence on your pet!
There are some basics that apply to every pet – be systematic about brushing. Start at the head and work towards the tail. Use firm but gentle strokes – pulling or ripping through mats or tangles hurts your pet and may make them adverse to grooming or handling. Use long strokes for pets with long hair, and shorter strokes for pets with short hair. After brushing, you can use a comb to remove more loose hair. If you have a very tolerant pet, you can even try using a hand held vacuum to lessen the mess! Different coats sometimes require different brushes – although each dog may be different, here are some suggestions based on several basic coat types.
Smooth, Short Coat
(like a Chihuahua or Boxer)
Short, dense Coat that can mat
(like a Lab or German Shepherd)
Long, fine Coat
(like a Collie, Golden Retriever, Setters)
(like a Yorkie, Poodle, or Bichon)
Brushing your cat is just as important as brushing your dog – if not more so! Because cats are self-groomers, brushing helps remove dead hair, which means less hair in their systems and fewer hairballs. Many felines like the feel of the brush stroking their fur and will welcome a long brushing session. Some may lie down and roll over to be brushed, however, others hate having their legs, feet, or stomachs brushed and may resist or swat at the brush. If this happens, give your cat a minute to settle down, then try again. Before you begin brushing your cat, examine the coat for any tangles, knots, or matted fur. These are especially common in long-haired breeds – check carefully behind ears, around neck, between toes, around their legs, and under their tail. Do not pull through these tangled areas with a brush, as this may hurt your cat and make them less accepting of grooming in the future. If your cat is severely matted, you may require the help of a veterinarian or professional groomer to safely remove the tangled hair.
Many experts recommend bathing your dog no more than once every 2-4 weeks; your pet may require more frequent baths in the summertime or if they spend a lot of time with you outdoors. If you use the correct shampoo, you may opt to bathe more frequently and not worry about damaging the coat. And if a full bath is not always an option, consider a “waterless” shampoo. This type of shampoo is applied onto the pet and is simply brushed through the pet’s hair- no water required! Pre-moistened grooming wipes are another great tool to clean your pet in-between baths. You can use them on dirty paws, to clean up drool, dirty backsides and all sorts of quick clean-ups. These wipes can also help to remove dander and dried saliva from fur, reducing allergens.
The first step is to decide where to bathe – kitchen sinks or laundry utility tubs work well for small pets, while bathtubs or portable tubs are best for larger pets. Water should be lukewarm for shampoo to suds properly and for your dog’s comfort. And don’t forget that many PetPeople locations have self-service wash stations for your convenience. You and your dog can make as much of a mess as you want and we will clean up after you!
There are many shampoos to choose from, depending on your pet’s coat type and skin condition. There are tearless puppy shampoos, moisturizing oatmeal shampoos, soothing tea tree oil shampoos, and medicated anti-itch shampoos. It is important NOT to use human shampoo – it contain harsher detergents, and is not pH balanced for pets. They could damage hair or sensitive skin. To help moisturize a dry coat and to decrease shedding, consider using a conditioner. This can be especially important to help prevent tangles in longer haired breeds. Before you bathe, consider gently placing a cotton ball in the ear to prevent water from entering the ear canal. Don’t forget to take the cotton balls out when you’re done!
Bathing and brushing aren’t the only important steps to properly groom your pet. For most of us, these are easily done at home. However, there are other things that need to be done, whether you choose to do it yourself or have a professional do it for you.
Trimming your pet’s nails is not just a part of grooming, but important for their health as well. Untrimmed nails can cause a variety of problems – because nails grow continuously, they can actually curl under and grow back into the dog’s or cat’s pad. Overly long nails can also break off, which can be painful and bleed heavily. A good indication that a pet’s nails are too long is a telltale clicking sound as the dog walks on a hard surface.
Like many pet owners, you may be hesitant to trim your dog’s nails because you are afraid of cutting the ‘quick’ of the nail, which may cause pain and bleeding. Once you learn how to do it, clipping your pet’s nails can be easy and stress free. Trimming your pet’s nails is just like trimming your own – you are only cutting off the excess portion. Learning to recognize what is excess and where the ‘quick’ begins is what you need to know to make nail trimming a stress-free experience for both you and your pet.
Most people don’t really handle their pet’s feet until they are about to clip the nails and some animals get very upset at this strange feeling! That’s why it’s a good idea to get your dog used to having their feet handled before you attempt a nail trim. Rub your hands up and down their leg, and gently press on each toe – you can even gently hold each nail between your fingers to simulate the pressure from the nail clippers. Remember - take it slow. If your pet objects, take a step back until your pet is comfortable again. Be sure to give lots of praise and even some food treats as you desensitize them to their feet being handled. All dogs are different, but after a week or two of daily foot massage, most pets are better able to tolerate a nail trim. Once your pet is accustomed to being handled, you are ready to start!
Nail Trimming Tips
Don’t Forget your Feline Friends!
It is important to keep your cat’s nails trimmed too – though they naturally scratch to help keep nails healthy, trimming to keep them short can help prevent them from snagging a nail or damaging your furniture. Trimming a cat’s nails works much the same as trimming a dog’s. The only difference is that since cat’s claws retract, you must gently push on their paw pad to expose the toenail. Once the nails are out, you cut back to just before the quick.
The key to healthy ears is to keep them clean – check your dog’s ears weekly. A slight amount of dirt or wax may be present in normal ears, and can be cleaned once a month. If your dog swims a lot, has long floppy ears, or a history of ear disease, more routine cleaning (often once or twice a week) is recommended. Remove wax and dirt from your pet’s ears with a cotton ball moistened with a gentle ear cleaning solution. You may need to remove any excess hair leading into the ear canal; ask your vet or groomer to show you how before trying it at home.
Remember, if your dog is showing severe discomfort, or the ears have a discharge, a foul or yeasty odor, or the ear canals look abnormal, be sure to visit your veterinarian. If your dog has an ear infection, simply cleaning them will not solve the problem. If your dog has a ruptured or weakened eardrum, some ear cleansers and medications could even do more harm than good. Your vet must determine what medication, if any, is needed.
Special Breeds, Special Needs
Some breeds may require more extensive grooming needs – make sure you are aware of this before you pick the dog for you! Poodles, including Poodle mixes, Yorkshire Terriers, Bichons, Maltese, and many other breeds usually need professional grooming. Because their hair coat grows continuously, they must be trimmed every 6-10 weeks to keep hair from getting matted and tangled. These frequent grooming trips can be expensive, so make sure you count that into your pet budget if you choose such a breed.
Dogs with loose facial skin or wrinkles, such as Bulldogs, Sharpeis, or Pugs, will need special attention. To prevent dirt and bacteria from causing irritation and infection, skin folds must be cleaned daily with a moistened grooming wipe or cotton cloth. Always thoroughly dry the area between the folds – excess moisture can cause problems too.
Make it Fun
Grooming your pet is an important part of their overall health and well being - but it doesn’t have to be a chore! Use this time for hands on bonding, and to check your pet for any health concerns - your pet will thank you for it!