This month we focus upon how to keep your pet healthy and comfortable through easy and effective grooming techniques. Not only will your pet be happier, they will look great for the upcoming holidays.

Regular Brushing
The easiest and most beneficial grooming activity is brushing your pet’s coat. Regular brushing not only removes tangled and loose hair, it creates a great bonding opportunity between you and your pet. Starting at the head and working toward the tail and feet, you’ll touch every inch of your pet enabling you to identify any new sensitivities, growths, cuts or scrapes. As with people, early detection of potential issues is paramount to the diagnostic process, treatment and overall wellness of your pet.

Brushing Your Pet

Ideally your pet would be brushed daily but that’s difficult given today’s busy lifestyles. So, brushing your pet every weekend works well. We suggest using a pet brush or metal comb and always brush in the direction that your pet’s hair naturally falls. Sharing low-calorie treats can allow your pet to anticipate and enjoy the brushing.

Hair Trimming
Just as people visit the salon or barber, our pets can benefit from periodic trimming. Not only will they look better, they will feel more comfortable and be healthier.

Trimming the hair around your pet’s anus enables their waste to more easily and cleanly exit — limiting residual excrement that can irritate pets, attract insects and emit foul odors. Importantly, keeping this hair short (but not too short exposing the anus) helps to reduce cleaning needs.

Keeping the hair around your pet’s feet to a manageable length is also important for pets that spend time outdoors. Longer hair more easily attracts and retains dirt, foxtails, seeds, ice, and other items that can injure or cause your pet discomfort.

Lastly, maintaining the length of the hair within your pet’s ears is also important. Periodic trimming will help enable the ear’s own cleaning system to properly operate. When trimming the hair be sure never to cut the hair shorter than the outer ear.

Pet Clippers

When trimming your pet, use pet scissors with rounded tips to prevent injury from unexpected movements. Hold your pet firmly and trim quickly — but carefully. Even though hair regrows, it’s always better to cut less than more. To the extent your pet is comfortable with the sound of sheers or electric trimmers, we recommend these tools as they are the safest and fastest way to trim hair.

Nail Trimming
Maintaining the length of your pet’s nails not only limits floor scratches and furniture fabric pulls, it helps to maintain the health and comfort of your pet. Long nails tend to split or break resulting in pain or bleeding. Additionally, excessively long nails can exert pressure on the nailbed causing your pet to shift weight to the sides of the toe ultimately inducing joint pain while walking or running.

Trimming your pet’s nails can be a daunting task. Few pets feel comfortable with anyone touching their feet or toes — resulting in an instinctive reflexive retraction. Repeated touching over time can help desensitize your pet allowing you to view and touch their nails. If you have never cut your pet’s nails, ask us to show you how to safely do so.

Once your pet is comfortable, you can inspect each nail in a well-lit room for splits, chips or breaks and determine which may require trimming. If your pet exhibits any pain during your review, please contact us rather than attempting to trim their nails.

Trimming Your Pet's Nails

The objective is to remove the excess nail without removing too much — causing the nail to bleed. For pets with clear nails, the hyponychium or “quick” can be easily seen and avoided. For pets with dark nails, it’s best to cut less. When trimming your pet’s nails, you should expect them to move, flinch or otherwise react when you attempt to trim — so be prepared. Separate each toe, insert the trimmer beneath the nail so it cuts from back to front, and squeeze firmly and continuously — always being prepared to stop. Before cutting, align the blade so you’ll trim only the end of the nail.

Before trimming, have styptic powder and gauze handy in the event the nail begins to bleed. Also ensure your trimmers are clean, sharp and possess a uniform cutting edge. Some owners prefer to grind their pet’s nails reducing the chance of bleeding through a cut. However, overgrinding can also reach the quick and cause bleeding.

If during the process, any nail begins to bleed — stop and address the bleeding. Only after the bleeding has been fully contained (generally after 5 to 10 minutes) should trimming continue. Recall, it’s likely the bleeding may re-occur as your pet walks or runs on nails that were cut too short.

After your first trimming, you’ll know where to place the blade and how much to cut. Again, it’s better to cut less nail more frequently. You should examine your pet’s nails weekly, and trim them approximately every two weeks.


Bathing

Bathing your pet periodically will not only keep them smelling delightful, it will also help limit scratching and enable you to identify and eliminate fleas. Periodic baths (generally monthly for dogs, quarterly for cats and indoor-only dogs) help to keep your pets comfortable and your family happy. The bathing frequency will ultimately depend on breed, coat length and type, activity level, environment, odor level, self-grooming behavior and overall health of your pet.

Before bathing your pet, brush your pet and select a pet shampoo that will not harm their eyes and contains a moisturizer (such as oatmeal) to sooth the skin. It’s vital that your shampoo be pH neutral, not cause irritation nor remove essential coat oils. Never use a shampoo for “humans.” If you plan to bathe your pet more frequently, use a soap-free shampoo. If you’re not sure which shampoo to use, please contact us.

Bathing Your Pet

To begin your pet’s regular bath, ensure the water is at comfortable temperature and pressure. Then speak to you pet in a calm voice offering a few treats as you remove their collar. Place your pet in a slip-free tub and gently begin applying water to the back portion of their head (away from their face and ears), around the neck, down the back and tail finally to each leg. Ensure your pet is wet to the skin, and before they shake, apply a generous amount of shampoo to your hands and lather up their neck — from the jaw to their back. This approach helps limit any fleas and ticks from attempting to reach “higher ground” (your pet’s head) during the bath. Then, lather their back, tail, underbelly and each leg. Periodically apply more water to fully activate the shampoo — preventing the over-use of shampoo and extending the rising process. Once your pet is fully lathered, begin rising from the neck down before the shampoo dries — which can leave an irritating residue. Continue to rinse until the water squeezed from your pet’s hair is clear.

Lastly, turn your attention to your pet’s head and face. Use a washcloth to wet their face, muzzle and back of the ears. Apply a small drop of shampoo to your hands and rub into the wet hair — keeping the shampoo away from their eyes, inside of their ears and mouth. Once lathered, use a clean washcloth to gently wipe away the shampoo from their face, head and back of the ears. Do everything possible to keep water out of your pet’s ears to avoid infections and other health complications.

Finally, conduct one final thorough pet-wide rising, allowing them to shake off any excess water. The bath is now complete and you can begin the drying process with towels and even a blow dryer. Then, reward your pet with kisses and a nice treat.


We hope these grooming techniques help to keep your pet and your family happy!