Grooming your pet helps to improve your bond, as well as encouraging good skin and coat health. In order for grooming to be a positive experience for all involved, it is best started at an early age, with lots of positive reinforcement. Long-haired animals in particular need regular brushing and non-shedding, curly-coated breeds of dogs need regular professional grooming to prevent matting.
Exactly how to groom your pet will depend on their coat type. Smooth coated dogs and guinea pigs may simply need brushing down with a grooming glove. Longer coated breeds may need combing, a slicker brush and even clippers. Zoom Grooms are great for removing loose hair and provide a comfortable massage experience for your pet.
If bathing your dog, it is important to comb them out first to reduce tangling and matting after they are wet. Use an animal-specific shampoo. Unless your dog has a particular health condition, you should not need to bath them often. It is not recommended to bath rabbits or guinea pigs as they find the experience extremely stressful.
When grooming your pet, always give them a general check over, looking at their eyes, ears, checking in any skin folds. If you notice any bald or sore areas, or parasites such as fleas or ticks, speak to your vet regarding the best treatment option.
Dog and cats should have their teeth brushed once daily to keep teeth and gums healthy. This is best taught to your pet when they are young as, particularly with cats, it can be very difficult to train them when they are older. Use a pet-specific toothpaste and a pet-specific or soft toothbrush. Finger brushes are useful for training purposes but are not as effective at removing plaque. If your pet already has a lot of tartar build-up, a professional clean by your vet will be needed before starting a tooth-brushing regime.
Checking your pet’s nails is another important part of the grooming process. Cats which are very active and go outside a lot do not generally need nail trimming – indeed this can be detrimental to their ability to climb. However more sedentary cats, particularly older cats, may not be using their claws properly and their is a risk of them growing into the pads causing infection and pain. If your cat gets to this stage, you will need to seek veterinary advice, however it is easily prevented by clipping your cat’s nails. Use a small clipper designed for the purpose and avoid cutting the quick (the pink blood vessel which is easily seen in most cats). In general, cut where the claw starts to taper.
Dogs who walk on hard surfaces a lot may wear their claws down adequately, although the dew claws sit higher up so may require regular clipping. If your dog walks on a lot of softer surfaces, nail trimming becomes more important. Again, the quick must be avoided to prevent bleeding. This can be harder to see in dogs so, if in doubt, get your groomer, veterinary nurse or vet to show you.