It’s important to keep your dog’s skin, coat and nails in good condition. This goes for pet owners who use a professional groomer too, since pets often need some grooming maintenance between trips. Here is some advice from a professional groomer and a few tips on how make to do-it-yourself sessions easier, from PetFoodDirect.com.
Why Groom My Pet?
Animals have a natural instinct to keep themselves clean, from licking themselves to pulling out clumps of matted hair on their own. While this does help between sessions with a groomer, they need a little boost from owners, especially since grooming is a good way to check for any health problems.
Owners who avoid grooming can easily miss things like ear infections, open wounds or skin sores and fleas or ticks on their pet. Untrimmed nails can lead to injuries on the pads of your pet’s paws, said Misako Hamamoto, a groomer at The Pawlour in Brooklyn, New York.
It can be overwhelming to tackle grooming after waiting for months or if you’ve had a few not-so-nice experiences with nail cutting or brushing out mats, but don’t let that stop you from taking small steps daily or weekly instead of every few months, Hamamoto said. Regular grooming will keep your dog’s hair in good condition by removing dirt, preventing tangles and spreading natural oils throughout their coats.
Tools and Tips
Start with short, frequent sessions when your dog is feeling calm and relaxed, like after a walk or playing with a toy inside. It also helps to get them comfortable with being groomed by you, so be sure to handle and pet every part of your dog including sensitive areas like their ears, tail, belly, back and feet, according to the ASPCA.
If your dog has a smooth, short coat, they’ll only need to be brushed about once a week. Dogs with longer coats will need more attention, and may need the hair around their feet and hocks trimmed.
Ask your groomer for their recommended choice of comb or brush for your pet or look online for an optimal choice, Hamamoto said. Bathing will only need to be done every few months unless your pet spends a significant amount of time outdoors.
Make sure to brush out all knots to mats before bath time and use a tearless shampoo. Keep the temperature of the water slightly colder than your own shower (but not too cold) and be sure to rinse out shampoo thoroughly and dry every part of their bodies, including ears, Hamamoto said. If your pup is especially squirmy or goofy at bath time, the ASPCA suggests putting a toy that floats in the tub with them so they can focus on playing with it instead of nipping at you.
When it comes to nail clipping, it’s common for owners not to handle their pet’s paws until they’re about to trim their nails, which can be upsetting and surprising to them. Make sure to get your pet feeling comfortable with being touched along their legs and on their toes and give them lots of praise throughout, according to the ASPCA. Stay calm and talk to them soothingly as you clip their nails with a professional trimmer. Avoid trimming nails too close to the quick (a vein that runs into the nail), as hitting it may cause bleeding and be very painful to your pet. If you do accidentally cut into the quick, apply styptic powder to stop the bleeding.
Some breeds will have additional needs, like dogs with loose facial skin, wrinkles or long, droopy ears. Ask your groomer for some tips on cleaning these areas and keep cotton balls, wash cloths and pet-friendly oils on hand in addition to your pet’s brush, nail clippers and shampoo.
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