With the changing seasons come changes to our pets' coats. Grooming our animals is vital, not just because they look nicer, but also because grooming is good for their overall health. Here are a few tips to help you help your pet maintain good health through regular “spa sessions:”
Go slowly and gently. Whether or not your dog or cat is used to being groomed, gentle and slow is best for your pet; that's especially true if your animal is not used to being brushed or bathed. Tangles in the fur can be painful if pulled roughly with a brush or comb (there are special tools to use when trying to get out mats and tangles), and bath time will not be a joyful experience for either of you if you man-handle your pet.
Take your pet to a professional groomer at least a few times a year, and if you have a long-haired cat or a specific breed of dog that needs regular clipping, you will need to go more often. Get recommendations by talking with friends or your veterinarian (some vets have a groomer on staff).
If you're pet isn't keen on the idea of brushings and bathings, associate a positive thing (such as a special treat, playtime after the grooming session, or dinnertime after the “pet spa”). By incorporating a positive experience, such as treats or play, with the less positive grooming session, your pet may be more apt to accept “spa time” knowing “treat time” comes afterward.
Clipping nails and brushing teeth are also recommended. The proper items for these procedures can also be purchased at a pet supply store or through your veterinarian. If you do clip nails, make sure you don't cut the quick, which can bleed profusely. Groomers and veterinarians may be the best choice for nail trims unless you are completely comfortable doing the job. Brushing teeth takes time to get used to by both pets and owners – start with massaging your dog's muzzle for several days, then put the pet toothpaste (human toothpaste can make your pet sick) around the gums and lips, and then graduate to the specially-designed pet toothbrush. Talk with your veterinarian about the proper way of brushing your pet's teeth and what abnormalities to watch for – healthy teeth and gums are important.
If you have a long-haired cat or dog and you discover mats, experts caution pet owners to not clip those – you might cut yourself or your pet. Instead, take your furry friend to a professional groomer or even to the vet – mats are painful and the animal made need to be shaved to get those out.
Use proper tools. There are a variety of combs and brushes from which to choose depending upon the thickness of your pet's coat. Talk with your veterinarian or the pet supply store clerk about which types of grooming tools to use for your particular pet.
Regular grooming helps create a greater emotional attachment in addition to helping your pet stay healthy physically. Spending time together is important for pets and their owners, and grooming sessions offer that important time. Through this process, you can note changes to your pet's coat and skin, such as growths and dryness, and watch for parasites, like fleas and ticks. Bathing also maintains a healthy coat. Although cats don't need baths as much as dogs do, a cat's coat also becomes dirty, especially if your kitty spends time outside.
Long-haired cats need daily brushing to keep tangles and mats from forming, and even short-haired cats benefit from weekly grooming. Even though cats groom themselves, the activity you provide lessens the amount of hair they ingest from self-grooming; hairballs show up on your floor or in the litter box, so the more you brush your cat, the less likely hairball cleanup you'll do.