By Linda Cole
Grooming and playing are two great ways to bond with your pet. Grooming also gives you an opportunity to monitor your pet’s overall health and gain their trust. Sitting down regularly with your pet will leave them feeling good about themselves (even though they may complain the whole time) and it gives you time with your favorite furry friend.
Hair clipping will be included in your pet grooming routine if you have a long haired dog. Some dogs, like Siberian Huskies, have lots of hair between their paw pads. When the hair grows too long, ice and snow can collect on the hair and cut the dog’s pads. Tiny rocks can be held in between their pads by the long hair and can injure their feet. It can be harder for them to walk on slippery surfaces because they can’t get proper traction walking on the overgrown hair. Long haired dogs may also need to have the hair in and around their ears trimmed.
Combing or brushing is an essential part of pet grooming. It helps remove loose hair as well as dirt and debris along the skin and in their coat. Medium to long haired dogs and long haired cats can have tangled, matted hair that pulls on the pet’s skin and mats can be difficult to remove. Regular brushing can help keep their coats mat free. Brushing stimulates their skin, removes dirt along the skin and in their coat and gets rid of loose hair that won’t end up on the living room furniture or on an unsuspecting house guest. This is a good time, while your pet is relaxed, to run your hands over their body and check for any lumps, skin irritations or sores hidden under the coat. Use an appropriate comb or brush that won’t scratch their skin.
Trimming your pet’s toenails gives you a chance to inspect their feet to make sure there are no hidden cuts or foreign objects, like small rocks or burrs, caught in between the paw pads. Outside cats can come home with small injuries to their feet you may not notice right away. Both cats and dogs can get splinters in their pads or cuts that can become infected over time. Pet grooming should always include an inspection of their feet whether the toenails need trimmed or not, to catch any problems before they require a trip to the vet. If you aren’t comfortable with trimming your pet’s toenails, most vets are happy to do it for you. When trimming nails at home, be careful not to cut into the quick. Trim as far as you’re comfortable with and then finish up with a nail file to smooth the rough edges. For more detailed information on trimming the nails, see How to Give your Pooch a Pedicure.
Bathing isn’t a part of pet grooming that’s necessary every time, especially for cats. Cats seldom need us to give them a bath, but on those rare occasions when one is needed, try to make it as positive as you can. (Read How to Bathe a Cat and Live to Tell About It for step-by-step directions). Outside cats require more baths because they roll around in all kinds of “stuff” and can get oily debris in their hair. Dogs, on the other hand, do need baths now and then. This is another opportunity to inspect their body as you work the shampoo into their coat.
Dental care is one area of pet grooming that’s often neglected by pet owners. It’s easy to forget about the inside of the mouth; however, it’s important to check their teeth and gums regularly for signs of gingivitis or other dental problems before they become serious.
Ear inspection is something my pets would rather I skipped, but it’s important to include their ears during each pet grooming session. Dogs with floppy ears or long hair have a problem with adequate air flow and air doesn’t circulate in the ear canal as well as it does in dogs with erect ears. Humidity can actually build up in their ears keeping them moist inside. If your floppy-eared dog loves to swim, make sure to dry the inside of the ears after he gets out of the water. They can have more buildup of dirt and crud as well, and are more at risk for ear infections than dogs with erect ears. Regular inspection of your pet’s ears can catch an ear mite infestation or yeast infection in the early stages.
Regular pet grooming allows us, as responsible pet owners, the opportunity of a hands-on inspection of our pets as well as helping to keep them clean. It’s time well spent, and is as healthy for us as it is for our pets.
Read more articles by Linda Cole
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.