Regular grooming is an aspect of pet health that is often overlooked or seen as frivolous. Many folks know the importance of bathing their pet (yes, even cats need baths from time to time), but brushing, cutting, nail trimming, ear cleaning and tooth brushing are also extremely crucial keys to maintaining your furry friend’s wellbeing.
Without regular brushing, both dogs and cats can easily acquire mattes and tangles. In the beginning, these are quite simple to brush or comb out, but if they are left, these tangles will grow into large mattes and eventually form close to your pet’s skin. When this occurs, mattes become painful and limit your pet’s mobility in that area. They can also cause severe skin irritation and hot spots. At this stage, the only option is to cut the matte out or shave down the pet entirely if the mattes are numerous. Buying a good dog or cat brush and comb and using them on your pet 3-4 times a week will help keep their coat smooth and prevent matting.
For short-haired dogs and cats, cutting their hair is not an essential part of the grooming process, but for others, a nice trim from time to time will keep away split ends, help prevent tangles and mattes and keep them cool during the hot summer months. For cats this can become especially helpful in their older age, as their self-grooming regimen slows down. For many animals will long, thick hair or fur, regular trims do a great deal towards their comfort and to maintain the health of their coat.
Nail trimming is an aspect of pet health that is beneficial both to your cat or dog and to you. Nobody enjoys getting scratched or clawed by unruly nails. In both cats and dogs, there is a vein that runs through their nail. If you cut the nail past the vein, the pet will bleed; thus, you can only cut that nail to the vein. But with regular nail trims, you can actually shorten the vein and slow its growth. This means that with each nail trim, you can take off a bit more nail until you get a nice, short nail. Nail buffing—or filing—is another great trick. This not only allows you or the groomer to buff away even more nail, but it results in a smoother, less sharp nail. At a grooming salon, buffing is usually an extra $5 charge on top of the estimated $10 for the trim—both services are well worth the price.
Ears can be a source of many problems for cats and dogs. Ear infections abound in both species, but are actually easily prevented. Certain breeds, like cocker spaniels, are more prone to ear infections and if this is the case for your pet, check with your vet for stronger preventatives. But for those of you whose pets just have slightly dirty or somewhat smelly ears, go to your local pet store and pick up some ear cleaner. Merely squirt some on a cotton ball and gently rub it around the inside of your pet’s ears. Keeping them clean and preventing infections could not be any easier.
It may sound silly, but oral hygiene is as important for your pet as it is for you. For most dogs, dental problems begin around year three, but with regular brushing, many of these issues can be prevented. And don’t worry, I don’t mean the kind of brushing done at the vet while under anesthesia. I mean the kind of brushing done at home with a bottle of TropiClean tooth gel and a dog or cat toothbrush. I also highly recommend the TopiClean Liquid Floss. And to answer your next question, yes, your pet will most likely struggle and hate you, but the brushing needs to last only a few minutes. Many vets advise daily brushing, but so long as you work it in 3-4 times a week, you’re sure to see improvement in your pet’s teeth and breath.