Can you imagine if our pets had the same bathing routines that we do? Having to wait in line for the shower behind additional furry family members? Stocking enough shampoo and shower gel, and having enough hot water for all?
Thankfully, our pets bathe themselves pretty regularly, and we only have to give them a hand every so often. How much assistance they need, both with keeping clean and maintaining a healthy and trimmed coat, depends a lot on the breed, size, and length and type of fur.
The length of your pet’s fur determines how often to brush. A short-haired dog or cat might need only a weekly brushing. Longer fur should be brushed several times a week or even daily—and this is good not only for the condition of the coat but also reduces the amount of shed fur you’ll find around your home and the risk of hairballs in cats, since less fur will be ingested during self-grooming.
The ASPCA recommends bathing dogs at least every three months, and cats if particularly dirty. This also varies by breed and fur type, but unlike brushing is not always directly related to the length of the coat. For example, the essentially hairless Sphynx cat needs to be bathed more frequently than most other cats because of the oils in their skin.
Do you really need special shampoo for your pet? Human shampoos aren’t necessarily harmful, but fragrances and other additives can be harsh or irritating to pet skin, so just as you choose (for yourself) what works best for you, choose a pet shampoo for your beloved dog or cat. You can even find varieties that are formulated for your pet’s breed (and species), which is important as the needs can definitely be different.
Trimming your pet’s nails can be a challenge—from simple wiggling to a dreaded swipe or bite from a stressed pet. These 3 steps can help you make home nail care successful, even if it takes some time to achieve:
- Acclimate: If you haven’t raised your pet from a puppy or kitten, you may find that any attempt to touch his or her feet is unwelcome. Get your pet comfortable with foot touching by cautiously integrating it into grooming, petting, and play. When you start trimming nails, only trim one or two at a time until it is a comfortable experience for your pet.
- Trim safely: Use the right tools (a properly sharpened guillotine cutter), a quick and smooth action to prevent tearing, and always stop short of the quick, a blood vessel that runs down the center of the nail. If you cut the quick, it can be painful for your pet. If you should cut it by accident, be prepared to stop the bleeding with styptic (powder or stick).
- Reward: Make sure that your pet finds nail care (or at least its end) a pleasant experience by rewarding with a treat. After all, it can be stressful, so a treat is both deserved and a promise that next time will be followed by a treat too.
Your professional groomer can make all of your home care tasks much easier. Plus, the groomer can do what may be difficult (or ill-advised) for you to do: trim or shave your pet’s fur. With the right tools, extensive experience with all types of pets and their fur, and the know-how to make your furry baby look and smell his or her best, it makes sense to depend on them for regular care of your pet. Most groomers recommend a visit every 6-8 weeks (again, depending on your pet’s fur type), so it’s a great time for a bath, haircut, and nail trim.
If the groomer can take care of all your pet’s grooming needs, why would you do home care? There are actually many important reasons for you to partner with your groomer (and your pet) and perform many of the above pet care activities:
- Dirt Happens. How often do you come home from the groomer only to have to walk your dog in the rain the next day? Or even if your next grooming appointment is coming up next week, a very dirty pet shouldn’t be left that way for the groomer, as that dirt can be very unhealthy for your pet’s skin and fur, let alone what is ingested as the pet self-bathes.
- A Brushed Coat Is a Healthy Coat. Just as brushing is good for your hair and scalp, the same is true for pets. And it’s critical if your pet has long fur and prone to mats and clumps. The mats and clumps can cause irritation to your pet’s skin, and are very time consuming to remove if left unaddressed, which can cause your grooming bill to grow significantly. Plus, that matted coat may result in a much more severe haircut than you planned.
- Home Grooming Makes Professional Grooming Less Stressful. If you regularly handle, groom, and pet your dog or cat, he or she will be more socialized and more likely to have a successful outcome at the groomer. The sounds, activity, and unfamiliar surroundings at the groomer can be stressful to animals, but if they’ve experienced some of the sensations of grooming at home, then familiarity will help calm the situation.