A How-To on Grooming Your Pets

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While most pets are capable of keeping themselves clean for the most part, you need to groom them on a regular basis if you want to be sure they always enjoy the very best of health. Also, grooming your pets dramatically reduces the amount of shed hair that you will find around the house, while the close contact you enjoy with your pet while brushing them will enable you to keep a close eye on other potential problems.

Checking the eyes, ears and teeth of your dog, cat or rabbit can help you spot developing medical conditions well in advance, and this may help you avoid an expensive visit to the vet. Dental health in particular is of key importance as it can not only affect a pet’s ability to eat but has also been identified as a key contributing factor in a number of other conditions. Although the general principles of grooming remain the same regardless of what pet you have, some specific considerations are depending on which animal you own.

Dog grooming tips

All pets should be introduced to grooming as early as possible, so they get used to the sensations. That said, when it comes to puppies, not much in the way of brushing is required because young dogs do not develop their adult coats until they are around 6 months old. However, if you wait too long to introduce your dog to grooming while young, it will struggle to accept this treatment as it gets older.

Grooming also builds trust between a dog and its owner, benefiting the relationship between the two for years to come. With a gentle approach, grooming should be a relaxing and enjoyable experience for both of you.

Brushing your dog’s coat will remove dead hair, along with dirt and dandruff. As you brush, natural oils present in the fur are spread out across the length of your dog’s body, giving its coat a healthy sheen.

A dog’s ears are a prime breeding ground for bacteria and germs so failing to keep them clean could allow an infection to set in. As it is such a crucial part of any grooming regime, you should always buy the best dog ear cleaner you can find. Don’t be tempted to use cotton buds as they are far too firm. Instead, soak a cotton ball in the ear cleaning solution of your choice and use this to gently remove any dirt and other debris from in and around the ears.

You should also check your dog’s eyes for any buildup of mucus on the inside corners or foreign objects. If you notice anything you feel should be cleaned away, moisten a small ball of cotton with some warm water and gently dab it into the corners of the eyes. Be careful not to leave any loose fibers behind in the eyeball as these may scratch.

Don’t forget to check the soft pads on your dog’s paws on a regular basis. If these pads become cut and filled with dirt, it can cause serious infections. It’s also possible that foreign objects may get caught between pads and create serious discomfort. When it’s hot outside, you should also check that their feet are getting burnt from the pavement.

While puppies tend to need very little in the way of grooming, dogs that have reached their senior years generally appreciate grooming even more. Many older dogs will be quietly suffering from various aches and pains linked to their age, and some will have developed arthritis. The pampering and stroking that is part and parcel of a good grooming routine can help relieve much of this discomfort.

Cat grooming tips

All cat owners know how fastidious their little feline friends can be, seemingly taking every possible opportunity to groom themselves. Despite this, cats benefit enormously from a helping hand every now and then. Grooming your cat will not only improve its looks, but it will also enable you to keep a close watch on its health, spotting any potential conditions long before they become problematic.

Always brush in the same direction as the growth of the hair and be extra careful around areas of sensitive skin, such as the chest and belly. Begin with a metal comb – fine-toothed for short-haired cats and a little wider for breeds with longer hair. Use the cob to remove any large bits of debris and carefully untangle any knots. This should be followed by brushing with a bristle or soft rubber brush which will remove dead hair from your cat’s coat.

Keeping your cat’s claws trimmed is one of the most challenging parts of the grooming routine, but so long as you take your time and approach the task correctly, it shouldn’t present you with too many problems. The key is to get the cat used to having its feet handled. Begin by simply stroking and massaging your cat’s paws on a daily basis.

Once this behavior has been accepted, you can try pressing your thumb very gently onto the pad of each toe which will cause the claws to extend. It may take a couple of weeks for your cat to get used to such behavior, but once it has, you can move on to cutting the nails using a sharp, high-quality pair of clippers specially designed for the purpose. You should only ever cut off the white tip of the claw – any more risks causing your cat discomfort.

Rabbit grooming tips

Like cats, rabbits will keep themselves clean by licking their bodies, meaning any loose hairs will stick to their tongues and end up being swallowed. However, while cats are able to vomit up fur balls to rid themselves of this excess hair, rabbits do not share this ability. If a rabbit swallows too much hair, it’s stomach will become blocked and it will starve to death.

This means it is essential to brush the fur of your rabbit on a regular basis. Aim for once a week as an absolute minimum, but if your rabbit has especially long hair, you might need to brush it more often.

Rabbits go through shedding cycles every three months or so and during alternative cycles, they will shed significantly more hair than usual. During such periods you should try to brush your pet on a daily basis. Always use soft bristle brushes as these are less likely to damage the skin of the rabbit which can be extremely fragile.

If your rabbit spends most of its time indoors, running around on carpets and other soft floorings, you’ll also need to trim its toenails. Left to their own devices, a rabbit’s toenails will grow long and sharp which can be damaging to your soft furnishings and also uncomfortable for the rabbit itself. If you examine the nails carefully, you will be able to see how far the blood flow reaches and should always clip just outside that area to avoid harming your pet.

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