They say that dog’s think they clean themselves, but cats know they do. Well, this is almost true - cat’s are excellent self-groomers but even they need some help. The job of keeping your pets clean and groomed is different depending on their breed, coat type, and age.
Regular brushing or your dog or cat helps to remove dirt and loose skin, spreads natural oils throughout their coats, prevents tangles and keeps their skin clean and irritant free. Many pets enjoy being brushed so it’s a nice time to bond with your pet and at the same time you can check for any ticks, fleas, flea dirt, or any emerging skin issues (see Skin & Coat - link). Brushing also gives you some control about where shedded hair goes.
So this is a well-debated subject - how often does my pet need a bath? Well, it depends on your pet. Cat’s are great self-groomers but even they benefit from a bath, not least because it gives you the opportunity of really checking out your cat’s body for lumps and bumps. Dogs tend to need more regular bathing, not least because of their habit of rolling in mud, dust, and other more offensive things! Bathing is also an essential treatment should your pet get certain skin conditions or they have thick, long hair that is prone to tangles and matting. Regular bathing with good quality shampoo is a great habit to get your pets used to, not least because you reap the benefits of a sweet-smelling fur ball.
Care of your pet should ideally start from them being young so they get used to it. A healthy diet, good chews and chew toys go a long way towards dental health but tooth brushing is usually required. Gum disease can lead to infection, obsesses and even heart disease. Choose a pet-specific toothpaste (human toothpaste is poisonous to dogs if it contains xylitol), and get into a routine of regular cleaning.
Keep your pet’s eyes clear of ‘gunk’ by wiping gently with a damp cotton ball. Paying attention to your pet’s eyes during your grooming sessions will alert you early to any early signs of eye infections or issues. Long-haired breeds need the hair regularly trimmed around their eyes and any shampoo used in grooming should not be used around the eye area.
Always check your pet’s ears during your grooming sessions, especially for breeds that hair a lot of hair in their ears. Take advice from your vet about proper cleaning as it can be easy to probe too deeply. If you see any redness, swelling, discharge or an odour from the ear, seek medical advice. Be sure not to get water in your dogs ears during bath times.
Without regular care, a cat’s claws can grow into the pads of their feet causing pain, infection and lameness, a particular problem for older cats. Well-trimmed claws are also less likely to damage people, other pets, clothing and furniture. Dogs with short nails make less noise walking across hardwood floors and are less likely to get a nail caught or broken when out running.As a rule, your dog’s nails should be trimmed when they just about touch the floor when they walk. How often this is depends on the dog’s breed, age and lifestyle. Cats’ nails can also be cut regularly and, like dogs, it’s best to start them early, especially if you want to do the clipping yourself. Unless your pet is very comfortable with you doing it, get a professional groomer to clip them.