How to Groom Your Pet at Home

Charmaine Griffin
April 20, 2020

How To's, Pet Parenting

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While it’s been wonderful staying in the house and getting some extra love from your dog or cat, you may be starting to notice their grooming isn’t up to par. 

Maybe their coat is starting to look a little knotted or their nails are starting to scratch deep into your wood furniture. 

What are you supposed to do when your local groomer is closed or too far away?

If you are a fan of the do-it-yourself lifestyle or you’re just a pet parent who wants to learn new ways to care for your dog or cat at home, we’ve created a list of tips to help!

Trimming or Brushing Your Pets’ Fur

With spring well underway and your pooch or kittens fur growing longer by the day, you may be wondering about ways to safely maintain their precious coats.

Brushing 

Brushing your dog regularly is a great way to help promote a healthy coat by removing excess shedding, distributing natural oils to promote overall shine, managing tangles, preventing matting and helping to remove dead or dry skin.

When should you brush your dog?

  • Daily, depending on breed and coat length
  • Before bathing
  • After bathing
  • During periods of seasonal shedding

You should choose a brush depending on the specific purpose and the length of your dog’s coat.

If you are just brushing to maintain a regular routine, try a comb (special grooming fine-tooth comb or a regular wide-tooth comb that does not have any sharp edges) or a pin-head brush.

But, if you’re planning to remove hair mats or excess fur, a shedding blade or a universal slicker brush is best. 

We had a chance to speak about grooming with Jess Okon over at Blue-9 Pet Products, a company that creates dog training accessories for canines and their owners

“For flat-coated dogs, brush them once per week. Double coated dogs two to three times a week to remove dead undercoat and reduce shedding,” she said.

“And curly-coated or long-coated dogs, daily, paying special attention to areas prone to matting like behind the ears, armpits, and hips.”

When it comes to cats, they are well equipped with their own built-in grooming system involving the use of their tongue.

But regular brushing, at least two or three times a week, is recommended for a number of reasons, including:

  • Promoting blood circulation
  • Removing dead skin
  • Removing excess hair
  • Removing dirt and grease 
  • Promoting healthy skin
  • Helps prevent tangles
  • Keeps hairballs to a minimum

Brushing your cat is also helpful if they are older and unable to thoroughly groom themselves on their own. 

Bathing 

What if your dog also needs a bath? 

“When selecting a shampoo be aware of your dog’s coat and skin types. Look for a ‘soap-free’ solution that will not dry out your dogs’ skin and coat. Consult with your veterinarian for dogs prone to allergies or with sensitive skin for their recommendation on medicated shampoos,” suggests Okon. 

The same is true for cats, it’s not as necessary to bathe them as it is to brush them. Avoid the traumatic experience for your cat unless you notice they need a good wipe down. Use a damp cloth for this task. 

Cutting or Trimming

So, should you also trim your pet’s coat at home?

Although you probably are the best at treating your fur baby to gentle loving care, it may not be the best time to trim their fur or coat, unless advised by a groomer due to matting or excessive tangling. 

If your dog or cat is experiencing severe matting or any other issues related to their fur, contact your local veterinarian or groomer for best practices before grabbing your scissors.

Safely Trimming Your Pets’ Nails

What if your pet’s nails are getting a little long right now, is it safe to cut them yourself? 

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is if you are going to cut your dog or cat’s nails, you should do so very carefully and with a few tips in mind.

Your Dog’s Nails

  • Be gentle, never aggressively approach your dog or lay them on their backs when cutting their nails
  • Massage their paws well in advance before cutting their nails to get them used to the feeling of having their paws touched or held by you
  • Never just grab and cut
  • Always cut little by little at an angle

What type of trimmer should you use?

“When shopping for nail clippers or filing systems, you want to look for durability. The file should be easy to use and easy to change the filing bits as they wear with use,” says Okon. “Nail clippers should feel solid in your hand, something that will be able to cut through thick nails without bending or breaking which can cause injury to the nail.”

Always be sure to reference instructions on the packaging and if you aren’t sure it never hurts to give your groomer a call. 

Your Cat’s Nails

With cats, trimming can be a little tricky. Similar to dogs, you want to create a calming environment at a time where they aren’t overly active, for instance after mealtime or when they’re relaxed.

  • Be gentle and massage their paws ahead of doing any trimming
  • Do not force their hand back if they pull away, gently initiate contact again
  • Make sure your cat is sitting in your lap in a comfortable position (this is a great time to feed them low calorie treats as a reward)
  • Press gently on the toe pad as you’re clipping and do not try to clip them all at once, multiple sessions may be necessary. 

For both dogs and cats, the pink part or darkest part of their toenail is called the “quick,” which is a sensitive area that holds nerves and blood vessels. Be sure to avoid cutting this area. 

Again, if you aren’t sure it’s always best to contact your local groomer.

How often should you trim your dog or cat’s nails?

“This varies per dog, but on average about every 2 to 4 weeks,” suggests Okon.

For cats, it also depends, but every couple of weeks is a good start or when you notice their claws are getting too long. 

Maintaining Your Pets Dental Hygiene 

Just as much as it’s important for your pet to have healthy skin, coat, and nails, their smile is just as special!

Since you probably aren’t able to take them for their routine dental checkup, you still want to help them maintain their dental hygiene at home.

Treats and chews that help promote doggy dental hygiene is the easiest way to go! The chewing motion from enjoying a long-lasting treat or tough chew helps scrape away at harmful tartar, naturally fighting against plaque buildup.

Looking for the perfect option? 

Treats like our Chew-A-Bulls® dental chews are perfect for dogs because they have ridges and grooves meant to get into those hard to reach places between teeth and gums. 

For cats, try our protein puffs which not only offer a burst of tasty, low-calorie energy, but they are also crunchy, gently scraping their teeth with each munch.

Bonding

Treating your pup or kitty to a few at-home spa days will help with bonding during this time. Since they are newly adjusted to seeing you at home all day –– which, we are sure they love!

Some pets may be experiencing anxiety right now, so showing them some extra attention is perfect.

While grooming, this is also a good time to check for anything you may need to bring up to your veterinarian or groomer for your next appointment, like fleas or skin irritation. 

New Puppy or Kitten

Since everyone’s home, many of you have become new pet parents or you’re adding more fur babies to your litter. 

Introducing your pup or kitten to grooming is a great way to get them comfortable with their visits later down the road. 

Take extra precautions and be sure to reward them!

“Get them used to being handled and groomed as soon as possible, this will help them be more confident later when going to the vet or groomer,” says Okon.

Happy grooming! 

 

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