Grooming Cats and Dogs
Grooming your cat or dog is not only good for their health but also provides a lovely way to spend quality time together. Choose a time when your pet is relaxed, make sure there are no distractions and spend a few minutes enjoying each others’ company.
Grooming sessions are the perfect time to give your pet the once over. Check for signs of fleas, ticks, lumps and sore spots. Spend a few minutes examining their ears, eyes and teeth and if anything unusual is seen, consult your vet.
Shedding hair is natural for cats and dogs and occurs throughout the year. In late spring pets shed their winter layer to prepare for warmer weather with a shorter, lighter coat. Surprisingly, many pets also go through a shedding process in autumn to get ready for their heavier winter coat. Shedding also increases during periods of illness or stress, pregnancy or nursing.
Poodles and poodle mixes hardly shed hair at all although they do need regular clipping. These, as well as Cornish Rex and Sphynx cats are popular with people that suffer allergies.
Whilst short haired pets may only need one session with a slicker or bristle brush per week, dogs and cats with long hair will need to be brushed daily to stop it from matting and forming knots. Preventing knots through regular grooming is much easier and less painful than removing them once formed.
COMBS – Designed for de-tangling and for “feathers” on legs and tails. Choose combs with round tips or those with rotating pins which are a gentler on the skin. Flea combs should only be used after the coat has already been thoroughly groomed. Comb in the direction of the hair to remove fleas and their eggs from the coat.
SLICKER BRUSHES – Slicker brushes remove fur mats and tangles from all coat types. They are used after a pin brush to remove dead hair from both the undercoat and the coarser hair on the top coat. They are also useful as a finishing brush to distribute the natural oils through the coat for a shiny finish.
UNDERCOAT RAKES – A must-have for dogs that shed their thick coats in chunks. The single row of metal prongs effectively removes dead fur from the undercoat. De-matting rakes are smaller and pry apart the unsightly fur mats that occur on long haired pets.
PIN BRUSHES – Available with and without rubber-tipped pins, these are the brush of choice for pets with medium length, wavy or wire coats but not for short, sleek coats. They remove small tangles and the rubber-tipped varieties are great for pets with sensitive skin.
BRISTLE BRUSHES – Those with natural bristles are gentler than synthetic versions. These can be used on all coat types and are very effective finishing brushes. Smaller, softer versions are available for cats also. These stimulate the skin, improve circulation and add shine to the coat and should be used once all dead undercoat and tangles are removed.
GROOMING MITTS – Terrific for shorthaired breeds and add polish and shine to fur once the loose hair is removed. Also useful after bathing to separate the hair without breaking it and to remove excess water from the skin.
Cats don’t usually need a bath, nor would they enjoy it. The only reason to wash a cat would be if it was very dirty or got too close to something it shouldn’t. A small amount of a specific cat shampoo should be applied and lathered right down to the tail. Take the cat out of the water for this so that it will feel more comfortable and then rinse it really well. Rub the cat well with a towel and then let it dry in a warm room or outside.
Most dogs require a bath only once a month or when the coat becomes greasy or smelly. Bathing too often strips away the natural oils that keep their hair soft and silky. Human shampoos should definitely be avoided as dog-specific shampoos have a pH balance to suit their skin. Medical shampoos meant to cure particular skin-disorders may need to be used more frequently depending on the condition.
All Better Pets and Gardens are now equipped with DIY dog washes which allow you to easily wash your own dog in comfort. Using warm water, your dog can be shampooed, conditioned and even treated for fleas before being blown dry ready to jump back into the car. Find your closest dog wash. Don’t forget to bring a towel with you!
Use pet nail clippers to take off just the tip of each nail with a swift action being very careful to only take a fraction at a time so as not to cut the quick where the blood vessels and nerves are. If unsure, ask one of our staff or your vet to teach you how to trim your pets nails easily and effectively. Alternatively, a vet can clip the nails for you.
Regular exercise on hard ground will help keep a dogs nails trimmed. Scratching posts provide cats with a way to keep their nails healthy.
Many dogs don’t like their feet being touched. Some believe that this is a natural instinct from dogs in the wild who would do anything they could to protect their feet in a fight. Starting to handle a dog’s feet when they are just a puppy will make them calmer when having their nails clipped or feet groomed as they get older.
CLEANING EARS AND EYES
Ear cleaning solutions and wipes are available to remove excess moisture, wax and debris from the outer ear canals. Use a product specifically for pets and only clean as far as your forefinger will naturally reach. Never use cotton buds or poke anything in the ear as this can damage the sensitive lining of the canal.
Constant head shaking or hanging the head to one side is a sign that a cat or dog may have an ear problem. If so, seek veterinary advice immediately to remove any foreign material or treat any painful inflammations.
Wipe away any discharge that accumulates at the corner of the eyes with a damp cotton ball and carefully clip any excess long hair that hangs over them as these may cause irritations. Products are available to help reduce any discolouration under the eyes, especially on white hair. Any excess weeping, ulcers or foreign material in the eye will need to be checked and treated by a vet as soon as possible.
Tooth and gum diseases is one of the main medical issues in pets and although regular vet checks are still necessary, brushing teeth regularly helps control these problems and gives your pet a fresher breath as well.
Start brushing their teeth early in your pets’ life, making the initial sessions short so that they don’t become stressed. To begin with, use just your finger tips and start from the sides rubbing just a few teeth at a time. Then progress to a facecloth or small finger brush and then finally a soft bristle pet brush.
Use toothpaste designed for pets as this is both safer and a more appealing flavour than human toothpaste. Press the paste into the bristles of the brush so that it isn’t licked off before it even reaches the teeth. Start with the side teeth first.
GROOMING PUPPIES AND KITTENS
Getting puppies and kittens accustomed to grooming early in life makes it much easier to handle them as they grow older. Start with short sessions, touching their ears and their paws gently and giving them a “massage” with your hands.
Introduce brushes gradually although initially they may think this is a toy. If this is the case, stay calm and use positive reinforcement to reward them for even just a few seconds of success. Avoid raising your voice or getting angry with your pet so that they learn to enjoy the experience and will not become anxious the next time they are due to be groomed.