By Elizabeth Anderson Lopez
Certain elements of grooming your cat or dog are fairly straightforward. But there are a few spots on Spot that need some extra care and attention. Those sensitive areas include the eyes, ears, nails, genitals, and anus. If you don’t feel comfortable grooming any of these areas yourself, ask the groomer to show you some pointers during your pet’s next visit.
The Eyes Have It
The good news is that it’s fairly easy to clean your pet’s eyes; just be sure to exercise extra care and patience. If your pet has dried “eye boogers,” you can wipe them away with a cotton ball moistened by lukewarm water, a paper towel or a washcloth. Use whatever’s clean, handy, and non-abrasive.
If your dog has long hair on its face, you may want to trim that extra fur to cut down on trapped debris or tear stains. Mitch Horowitz, co-owner of Fur Balls Pet Grooming Salon in Bayville, N.J., recommends ball-tip curved scissors that curve away from the eye. It may also help to have a friend gently pet your dog while you carefully trim the eye area.
Here’s to Clean Ears
Dogs can get all sorts of stuff in their ears and, as a result, you may need to occasionally clean them. There are products you can use to wipe down the insides of the ears, but soap and water isn’t one of them. This is partially because water takes longer to evaporate, keeping the ears damp for longer. Suggested ear-cleaning substances include over-the-counter solutions made especially for pet ears, mineral oil, witch hazel or even baby wipes. Check with a vet to make a recommendation specifically for your dog.
To care for pet ears in general, apply the cleaner to a cotton ball and then gently wipe the inside surfaces of the ear, without going into the ear canal. Some dog breeds, such as poodles, have additional ear issues. “Hair grows in the ear canal and it needs to be plucked,” Horowitz says. “Ear powder can help. It makes the hair tacky and easier to grab.”
Nails are another area that don’t sound particularly sensitive, but since they contain the quick—a thin vein of blood—cutting nails even a little bit too close can result in bleeding and pain. There are a couple of grooming methods to keep your pet pain-free when used correctly. You can use guillotine-style clippers or a battery-operated filing tool. Determine which will make your pet most comfortable. To further boost the comfort factor, do this task when your pet is lying next to you on the couch, drowsy and relaxed.
Preening the Privates
Removing hair around the genitals and anus is known as a “sanitary trim” and is done for hygienic reasons. Keeping the hair short in these areas will help prevent feces or urine from getting trapped in the fur. Remember, any pee on your dog’s fur can be smelly on every surface he lays on—including you.
While cats and dogs have no hang-ups about these “getting to know you” body parts, they do require extra care. If your pet hasn’t had a sanitary trim before, it may take awhile for Fido to get used to the area being touched and to the sound of clippers. Horowitz recommends leaving these areas to the professionals, but if you are comfortable, he advises to use a low blade. “A lower blade is less likely to cut the dog if it flinches or moves,” he says. Only use clippers specially made for those areas. “There are some places you never want to use scissors on an animal, and that’s one of them.”
Before this type of grooming is done, make sure your pet is accustomed to you handling these areas on a regular basis. Getting your pet used to seeing and hearing a compact, quiet trimmer, such as the ConairPRO Dog™ Palm Pro™ Micro-Trimmer, can also help.
Wherever your pet falls on the sensitivity spectrum, there are some body parts that should be treated with extra care when grooming. Luckily, there are plenty of tools and tips to make grooming all of your dog easier.