By Elizabeth Anderson Lopez
Grooming your cat or dog sounds relatively simple—brush it, wash it and trim its nails—but that doesn’t mean grooming is without challenges. Here are some are tips to ensure your pet is well-coiffed and stress-free after your at-home grooming session.
Before You Get Started
To begin grooming, there are some tools you should have handy—some of which may require a friend’s help—but the proper mindset is the most important tool in your box. Take on grooming only when you have plenty of time and aren’t stressed, and accept that you may not achieve all the grooming you intended for a given day. Keep the attitude that this will be fun for your pet, and treats also help keep the experience positive too.
Be focused on your pet’s body language for extreme stiffness or struggling, as well as unhappy vocalizations, and be prepared to end a session immediately. This can be even more critical with cats, according to Linda Easton, president of International Professional Groomers, Inc. “Cats will definitely let you know. When they are done, they are done.”
Brushing tends to be the most frequent grooming task. Long-haired dogs and cats may need daily brushings, while weekly may be adequate for short-haired pets. If your pet is small enough to sit in your lap, taking advantage of that time together may make brushing more comfortable for both parties. You may find it’s easiest to brush a large dog when it’s standing on an elevated table. And if the fur really flies, brushing outside or in the garage might be the best tactic.
Brushing may also be the most time-consuming task—but in a good way, as you can talk to your pet and love on him as you work. “Pet them as you groom,” Easton recommends. “Never scrape the skin with a brush. Pull the brush up and away from the skin to separate the hair.”
One of the reasons a dog may be anxious during a bath is her lack of footing. A rubber bath mat in the tub can help your dog feel more secure. Make sure your dog’s hair is thoroughly wet with warm water before you apply a dog-formula shampoo. Work the shampoo through the fur and skin—except for the face—and rinsing thoroughly. Long-haired dogs may also benefit from doggie conditioner.
For the face, a damp washcloth will typically be sufficient. If your dog has facial wrinkles, it’s especially important to clean and dry between the folds. Once you’re done, let your dog help dry itselfoff. Your dog will likely shake a few times, then let your dogdrip dry for a few minutes before applying a towel. Drying your dog is also an opportunity to include massage as part of the process. If you’re in a cold climate and have a long-haired dog, you may opt to use your hairdryer on the cool setting. Even better, consider the ConairPRO Dog Pet Dryer, which is designed specifically for pets and includes a four-position stand for hands-free drying.
When it comes to washing your cat, keep in mind that not all animal shampoos are alike. “Cats have thinner skin than dogs and are more susceptible to injury and the effects of chemicals,” says Pam Lauritzen, president of the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists. “Pet owners should make sure that all products used on their cats are cat-friendly.”
Advanced Grooming Tips
Grooming ears and nails falls under advanced care, not because they don’t need to be done regularly, but because they need a little extra TLC. Ears can form wax and debris buildup and should be cleaned with a damp washcloth, but without entering the ear canal.
Guillotine-type clippers are perfect for pet-icures. Cut off just the nail’s tip and avoid the quick, which is the nail’s visible blood supply. You could also use an emery board for touch-ups, or the ConairPRO Dog Professional Nail Grinder. It has a protective shield with an opening just small enough for the nail as a safety feature.
Grooming your pet can be a fun way to bond with your dog or cat, as long as you approach the tasks at hand with the right tools and state of mind.