Grooming Your Pet

in general


Regular grooming is essential no matter what type of coat your pet has.

Combs are designed to remove mats and detangle long hair.

Brushes remove dead surface hair and dander, and distribute oil to give a finished look.

Rakes and combs tackle coats that have become matted.

Always comb and brush your pet before bathing.

Wet hair is harder to work with if it is tangled or matted.

If your pet is matted to the skin, see your groomer or veterinarian about having the coat shaved.

Then start with regular grooming as the new fur grows in.

Grooming Your Dog
Regular grooming is an important part of responsible dog care, even if it may seem like your dog is taking care of those needs by himself. If you don’t have a routine set, start small. Attempt one task each time. Brush one day. Then bathe the next. And trim the nails on yet another day. The shorter you can keep each session, the better.

Ready to begin? Here are a few dog grooming tips to make the process easier.

Brushing Tips

  • Check for ticks as you brush
    You may notice the bugs themselves or small black flecks.

  • Determine how often you need to brush
    Most short coats require weekly brushing, but longer coats may require daily attention.

  • For smooth, short coats
    Use a rubber brush, then a bristle brush, and then polish with a chamois cloth.

  • For short, dense coats
    Use a slicker brush to remove tangles, followed by a bristle brush.

  • For long coats
    Use a slicker brush to remove tangles and be very gentle when removing mats. Then follow it with a bristle brush.

  • Don’t forget the tail and feet
    Particularly for dogs with longer coats.

Bathing Tips

  • Determine how often your dog needs a bath
    Depending on the weather and your dog’s recent activities, you may want to bathe your dog every one to three weeks.

  • Use a dog shampoo
    Dog’s skin is different from humans, so you want to ensure the shampoo is mild enough to avoid irritation.

  • How to choose dog shampoo
    What kind of ingredients should you look for in a dog shampoo? A good rule of thumb is to keep it simple, opting for shampoos with natural ingredients like oatmeal, aloe vera, herbal proteins, vitamins, and citrus extracts. And, as always, ask your veterinarian to recommend the right shampoo for your dog’s specific needs.

  • Avoid artificial fragrances and dyes.

  • Never use shampoos or conditioners designed for humans.

  • Start by brushing
    It will make the bathing process easier and more effective.

  • Use a bath mat
    If your pup is in the tub, this helps prevent slipping.

  • Add lukewarm water
    Be careful not to burn your dog or make it too cold, and only use about 3 to 4 inches in the tub.

  • Don’t spray directly in the nose, eyes, or ears
    A plastic cup or a spray hose can help you direct the water where you want it to go.

  • Rinse well
    One of the most common grooming mistakes is not properly removing all of the shampoo, leaving it on the skin to irritate your dog.

  • Check the ears
    Do you notice any foul odors or a lot of debris? Consult your vet

  • Use a low heat setting on the blow dryer
    A dryer can be an effective way to keep your dog from making everything in your house wet as he dries, but be careful not to burn your pup. You can also help keep it safe by not pointing it directly at your pup, but a little to the side instead.

  • Try a bath toy
    If your dog is overexcited and mouthy during bath time, it may redirect some of that attention onto something else.

Certain breeds have more particular needs.

For example, bulldogs require special attention between the folds on their face. And droopy ears can be more prone to problems, so they should be monitored closely. Talk to your veterinarian to get dog grooming tips specific to your pup.


Grooming Your Cat

Some cats require more grooming than others. Generally, the more fur a cat has, the more grooming she will need. Senior cats require more grooming because they groom themselves less meticulously. If you acclimate your cat to the grooming process as early as possible, grooming can be incident-free. If your cat simply won’t allow you to groom her, find yourself a professional groomer.


Frequent brushing is essential to keep your cat from getting hairballs, which can sometimes require surgery to remove. Brush shorthaired cats at least once weekly and longhaired cats at least every other day. When the warm weather hits in the spring, you may need to groom more often as your cat sheds her winter coat.

A de-shedding tool is especially effective at removing hair, but care should be taken when using it. Don’t start by enthusiastically raking your cat’s backbone. Gently stroke her, then draw the brush across the very top of her coat without catching any hair in the teeth or bristles.

Don’t assume that what works for one will work for all. You may have to try several different brush or comb types before finding one that works well on a particular cat.

Removing Mats
Mats are painful to your cat and can restrict movement, so they should be removed as soon as you notice them. If you brush your longhaired cat every other day, it will obviate the need to remove mats. But inevitably, every longhaired cat will develop them, and you’ll need to be adept at removing them without harming your cat.

The safest way to remove mats is with clippers. Have a helper hold the cat still while you shave away the mat.

If your cat has a number of mats, it’s much easier and safer to take her to a professional groomer.

Some cats rarely need baths; others, like members of the Sphynx cat breed, need weekly baths.

Bathing is easier if the cat has been accustomed to bathing since an early age. If she is not a frequent bather, you may need to prepare for battle

For specific advice on how to give your cat a bath read How to Survive Giving Your Cat a Bath.

Nail Clipping
As a general rule, you should trim your cat’s nails at least monthly. This procedure is best done with a helper who holds the cat in his lap while you trim the claws. If your cat isn’t wild about this procedure, wrap her in a towel to immobilize her, exposing one paw at a time.

As you look at the claw, you’ll notice a triangular pink area, which is the quick. Avoid cutting into this area, as doing so will cause bleeding and pain. To start, hold a paw and press the toe pad to extend the claw. Talk to your cat in a calm, soothing voice while you clip the tip of each nail. Clip straight up with a vertical cut, not diagonally across the nail. This will keep the nail from splitting.

Many cats only need their front claws trimmed, so don’t feel you need to trim the rear claws if they don’t require it. If you snip the quick, don’t panic. Use a styptic to stop the bleeding, and calm your cat with a low soothing voice.

Ear Cleaning
Check your cat’s ears twice a month for dirt and wax buildup (and ticks if your cat spends time outdoors). Some breeds produce more wax than others and require more frequent cleaning.

To clean your cat’s ears, enlist the aid of a helper to restrain her. Wrapping her in a towel will help. Clean the ear lobe using a cotton ball to gently remove dirt, wax, and debris.

Only clean the parts of the ear that are visible. If there appears to be debris inside the ear canal, have a vet remove it.

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