Veterinary Health: Pet Grooming Tips

Everything You Need to Know About Grooming Your Pet

grooming your pet

Whether you have a dog or a cat, rabbit or horse, one thing’s for sure: you’re going to need to take good care of your pet, and that starts with grooming.

From furry beasts, to hairless types – pets come in all shapes and sizes, each with their own personal needs and demands.

But if one thing is consistent, it’s a grooming plan. Here are a few essentials you will need to consider:

Bathing Your Pet

Not all pets need baths, and even when they do, this may be less frequent than us. For instance, dogs typically require a bath only when they get dirty or smelly from outdoor play. Prior to bathing, brush your pet out to remove dead hair, use only lukewarm water, and be sure not to spray water or get shampoo in the eyes. And since cats self-clean, they rarely need to be bathed.

It’s inadvisable to bathe some pets, such as rabbits, due to the stress it causes. This is similar with many rodents that self-clean and bathing would just remove the natural oils in their coats.

Hair and Fur

Fluffy animals and those with long hair by nature, are prone to tangling and knotting. Gentle grooming on a regular basis is advised to keep their hair in good condition, and there are specific brushes available for your pet. Brushing is important, even for pets with short hair, as it keeps the fur in good condition and spreads around natural oils. For pets with longer hair, brushing is even more important to prevent knots and matting.  While some owners choose to cut pet hair themselves, many choose groomers who will also often provide other services such as nail trimming, brushing, and more.

Paw Care

Much like our feet, paws need TLC every now and then. Regularly check your pet's paws to ensure they are in good condition, and consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns. Cats paws should always be kept clean, you can help them by wiping with a damp cloth, particularly in and around their claws. According to the ASPCA, cat claws can be trimmed up to every two weeks.

In the case of your pet horse, hooves should be trimmed every two months in most cases.

Dog paws need extra care, since they are always on their feet in outdoor conditions. Pebbles and debris can easily get caught in their pads, so daily cleaning is advisable. There are dog moisturizers on the market to help keep their pads in tip top condition, and don’t be afraid to cut back matted hair. Their nails should just hit the ground when they walk, if any longer they will need to be cut back.

As a general rule, a dog's nails should be trimmed when the reach the ground. Nail trimming needs will depend on how active your dog is and what type of surfaces they spend time on. Pets that go for regular walks on concrete may not need their nails trimmed as often as pets that spend a lot of time in the house or walking on grass. There are several types of nail clippers available in addition to nail grinders. Care should be taken to not cut the nails too short as this can cause bleeding. If your pet does not tolerate having their nails trimmed at home, some veterinarians and groomers will offer the service.

Dental Care

For many rodents, you do not need to brush their teeth. But you do need to ensure that they have the right food (high in fiber) and playthings for them to gnaw on, for their continuously growing teeth.

Other animals, such as cats and dogs need to have their mouths cleaned to prevent oral issue. A healthy diet will aid in keeping your pet's teeth and mouth healthy but additional steps can be taken to keep a pet's mouth clean. For instance, there are toothbrushes and toothpastes made especially for dogs. There are also many different dental bones, sprays, and other items that can be purchased to aid in pet dental health. Questions about dental care should be directed to a qualified veterinarian. Regular checks with your veterinarian will help identify any problem areas.

If you’re the owner of a horse, their teeth should be checked every six months and “floated” by a trained vet or equine dentist.

Ears

Keep an eye on your pet’s ears during grooming. Dogs ears can easily pick up infections due to their ear shape, which is easy for bacteria to harvest in. Because dogs have curvy, twisty inner ears, it can be easy for yeast, bacteria, and parasites to hide in them, causing infections and other issues. To clean the ears, use a cotton ball dampened with a formula specifically made to clean ears. Asking a veterinarian to demonstrate proper cleaning is a good idea, as your pet's inner ears can be delicate. Breeds that wind up with hair in the ear canal should have it tweezed out to prevent knots.

Eyes

Generally speaking, your pets should not need any specialist eye care. However, it is still important to look out for crust, cloudiness or inflammation during general grooming. Any of these signs could indicate a medical problem, which you should seek professional advice on.

A damp cotton ball should be used periodically to clean a dog's eyes and is soft enough to not cause any scratches. Breeds with longer hair should be trimmed to prevent hair from scratching the eyes. It is also important to protect the eyes when bathing your pet, or applying ointments or flea medication.

For more information about caring for your pet, check out specialist sites. The ASPCA has some helpful advice for cats, dogs and horses, while you can find out more about keeping a rodent here.

NOTE: If your pet is suffering from any health issues, consult your veterinary for professional medical advice immediately.