Grooming your pet not only helps them look great and allows you to strengthen your bond with them, but also has many great health benefits. Regular grooming helps remove build-up of dead hair which helps reduce the amount of fur shed and for cats helps reduce the amount of fur ingesting during self-grooming which leads to fur balls. It also prevents and removes matted fur, which when severe can be quite uncomfortable, and helps remove surface contaminants and allergens which can contribute to skin conditions in some animals.
Grooming does not only involve regular brushing, but also includes bathing, fur trimming and nail clipping. Some owners prefer to take their pet to a groomer regularly, others like to do all the grooming themselves. Visits to professional pet groomers will help ensure your pet comes home looking fresh each time they need a trim. Pet grooming requires a high level of skill as for many animals it can be quite a stressful situation which requires careful animal handling to ensure it is done in a safe manner for both your pet and the person involved. Accidents can happen when trying to clip that big knot of fur or their nails while your pet is wriggling around.
Getting your pet used to grooming can take time. It is important to spend time with your pet regularly and handle them frequently so they get used to being touched and petted. This includes stroking their ears and feet, as these are often sensitive areas for many animals. Have treats on hand to reward them as you groom them and pet them.
Different animals and breeds require different levels of grooming. Before bringing your new pet home it is important that you’re aware of their particular grooming needs. Examples of grooming requirements for different animals are found below.
Grooming for dogs
All dogs need regular brushing, even short-haired breeds, to keep their coats clean, tangle-free and tidy. Brushing regularly also helps manage shedding, so there’s less fur left behind around your house and on your clothes. It is a good idea to start brushing regularly when they are puppies so they get comfortable being handled and brushed.
- Medium to Long-haired breeds, such as poodles, border collies and golden retrievers, usually require weekly to even daily brushing to prevent matting and tangling of the hair.
- Short-haired dogs, such as boxers, jack russells and chihuahuas can go longer periods between brushing but will still benefit from regular brushing to remove dead hair and debris from their coats.
Most dogs generally don’t need bathing more than once a month, unless of course they get dirty or lie in something unpleasant. When bathing it is important to use a shampoo designed for pets and is best to apply to your hands first and then rub into your dog’s coat rather than directly onto their skin as this can lead to skin irritations in some individuals.
Some dogs with skin sensitivities or conditions may require special shampoo. If you suspect your dog may have issues with their skin it is best to check with your veterinarian for the correct shampoo to use.
Dogs who spend the majority of their time indoors or on soft surfaces may require their nails to be trimmed. Dogs that regularly walks on hard surfaces, such as concrete paths and roads, often wear their nails down and as result don’t need to be trimmed. It is still important to check your dog’s nails regularly to ensure they are not overgrowing, as if left untreated they can even grow around into the pad which is very painful for your dog. When checking their nails, particular attention should be placed on the dew claws (these are the nails located higher up on your dog’s forelimb paw and don’t touch the ground). All dogs have dew claws on their forelimbs, with some dogs even having dew claws on their hind limbs. These hind limb dew claws are often much smaller than a normal toe and are even more prone to becoming over grown or being traumatised.
Nail trimming is a job that needs to be done carefully as it is very easy to hurt a dog if you trim too closely. The ‘quick’ of the nail is where the nerves and vessels are located, if the nail is cut too short and the quick is trimmed it will start to bleed. Many veterinarians, veterinary nurses and groomers are able to trim your dog’s nails for you if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself at home.
Dog breeds that don’t shed hair such as Maltese, Shih Tzus, Poodles and associated crosses have non-shedding coats which require regular grooming when their fur grows long. Other long hair dogs also benefit from fur trimming, especially in warmer months or if they start to develop areas of matted fur.
Grooming for cats
Unlike dogs, cats don’t need as much grooming as they tend to be quite meticulous in looking after their own hygiene. Regular grooming or brushing helps increase the bond between you and your cat and gets them used to being handled. It also helps remove dead fur which reduces the risk of fur balls when they self-groom. Some cats require clipping of their coat, which should be performed by a professional groomer and if sedation is required will require a veterinarian to be involved.
Grooming for rabbits
Like cats, rabbits will self-groom and if kept with other rabbits they will groom each other. Rabbits also benefit from regular grooming, particularly when they are shedding their coat. It is also important to ensure that your rabbit does not develop mats or dags (fur containing urine or faeces) around their genitals, as if your rabbit is kept outdoors these dags are enticing areas for flies and can lead to fly strike which can be deadly. Some breeds of rabbits, such as Angoras, will require regular shaving which should be performed by a professional groomer.