Some animals, such as those with long hair, need more grooming than others and may require a helping hand from owners to keep them happy and healthy. As well as keeping coats clean and claws clipped, grooming also gives the opportunity for owner’s to check for any usual lumps or bumps, skin complaints or external parasites (fleas and ticks) on your pet. Try and establish regular grooming sessions from an early age with your pet to get them used to being touched and handled. Grooming sessions should be an enjoyable experience for you and your pet so keep them short and fun! Daily grooming helps to prevent matting from occurring but if your pet’s coat is already badly matted, it may be necessary to take them to a professional groomer to have the coat shaved. Matting can be extremely uncomfortable for an animal and can cause damage to underlying skin.
Here are some basic grooming tips to help keep your pet’s coat in top shape:
Bathing your cat is not necessary as cats ‘bathe’ themselves when self-grooming.
The best time to groom your cat is when they are relaxed and settled; if your cat is resisting your attention, don’t try to groom them! This can put unnecessary stress on both you and your cat.
For short-haired cats, aim to have a grooming session with your cat at least once a week. You can use a rubber grooming pad or mitten to gently brush your cat’s hair starting at the head and stroking downwards towards the tail (following the direction of hair growth). Loose hairs can be removed by wiping a damp cloth over the coat.
Long-haired cats need to be groomed at least once a day to keep the cat’s coat clean and free from matting. Use a ‘detangle’ spray (if your cat tolerates it) to help soften any knots and make grooming easier. Start with a wide-toothed comb and gently brush your cat’s coat from head to tail. Take care when brushing under your cat’s front and make legs as this area is very sensitive and knots can build up easily here. If you do come across any knots/matting, do not try to cut them out with scissors as you may accidentally cut your cat’s skin. Instead, use your fingers to gently ‘tease’ apart the fur slowly starting at the root and working to the tip. If you cannot remove the knot yourself, take your cat to a professional groomer who can safely remove these with minimal stress to your cat. To finish off the grooming session, use a rubber mitten or pad to remove any extra dead hair and wipe a damp cloth gently over your cat to pick up any remaining hairs.
Remember, if at any point during your grooming session your cat begins to struggle and resist, stop grooming and start again when your cat is relaxed.
It is advisable to start your grooming with brushing your dog first before you bathe them. Any matting can become harder to remove when it is wet and may cause your dog discomfort. Different dogs have different coat types which may require brushing more regularly. As with cats, a short-haired dog may require brushing only once a week whereas a long-haired dog will need brushing every day to remove excess fur and avoid knotting of the coat. Keep grooming sessions short and build positive associations with being brushed by rewarding your dog with treats or play sessions after grooming. Grooming should be done when your dog is happy, relaxed and comfortable.
Start at your dog’s head brushing gently in the direction of hair-growth and working towards the tail. For short-haired dogs, use a rubber mitten or pad. For long-haired dogs, use a wire brush. Be particularly cautious when brushing sensitive areas such as the ears, tail, belly, back and feet where matting may have formed and the skin is thinner. If your dog tolerates it, apply a detangling spray over the coat to help remove any knots in the coat. Take your time and focus on one section at a time. Do not attempt to cut out any matting as you may accidentally cut your dog’s skin. Instead, use your fingers to gently ‘tease’ apart the fur slowly starting at the root and working to the tip. If you cannot remove the knot yourself, take your dog to a professional groomer who can safely remove these.
Bathing your dog – begin by thoroughly wetting your dog by using a cup, small bucket or showerhead to pour the water over his coat. Apply shampoo from the neck down and gently massage it into his coat taking care to avoid your dog’s eyes, ears and mouth. While massaging in the shampoo, it’s a good time to check your dog’s body for any unusual lumps or bumps, skin irritations or noting any areas of particular sensitivity that may require veterinary attention. Rinse out the shampoo thoroughly taking your time to make sure it completely washed out (any residue left may cause irritation to your dog’s skin). After bathing, dry your dog coat’s using a towel to gently rub out excess moisture. If you are going to use a blow-dryer to dry your dog’s coat (and your dog will tolerate it), keep the dryer on the lowest setting possible to avoid burning or drying out your dog’s skin.
Perfumes for pets – a word of caution! Avoid using any human perfumes or colognes on pets as these can cause irritation to your pet’s skin. Visit your local veterinary clinic or pet supply store to enquire about pet-safe perfumes or colognes that will keep your pet smelling fresh as a daisy!
Professional grooming services are available from a number of specialist pet-grooming salons or at veterinary clinics. Services typically include bathing, coat clipping and shaving, nail cutting and ear cleaning.