A guide to grooming your dogs, cats and other pets
When a new pet joins your family, it can take a while to settle into a regular care routine. – and grooming is an important part of this.
You may not be aiming for the 'pampered pooch' look for your dog, for example – but you will still want to avoid matted hair, flea infestations, or unpleasant odours! If you let your pet's hair get matted it can be tough to untangle – and painful for your pet. Cutting off the hair is a risky business, too: if your pet makes a sudden move you could easily cut them by mistake.
Grooming not only keeps your pet's fur in good condition, but also gives you the opportunity to check your pet all over for lumps, bumps, cuts or scratches that need attention. You'll spot problems such as dry skin early on, enabling you to treat it before it gets worse, and you will spend quality time with your pet, helping them feel confident being handled.
Dog grooming tips
Most dogs need a fair bit of regular grooming to keep them in good condition. As a general rule, short-haired dogs are easier and quicker to groom than long-haired dogs, although this won't necessarily mean they shed less. The earlier you start grooming your dog, the more comfortable and confident they will be with being groomed – and if you stick to a regular routine it should never become a major job. At the same time, check your dog's ears for signs of any problems such as ear mites (which can appear as a black, waxy substance) and check your dog's skin for signs of dryness or irritation. If your dog has fleas, you will spot this early on and can treat them before the infestation gets out of hand.
Teeth cleaning is also an important part of your grooming routine, because dogs' teeth are prone to periodontal disease and gum disease, particularly once they get past the age of five. Special dog-friendly toothpaste and toothbrushes are available from pet shops.
You may want to bath your dog from time to time – particularly if they love jumping in muddy puddles. Don't be tempted to use shampoo intended for humans, and be wary of over-washing your dog because this can deplete the natural oils in the coat.
Grooming tips for cats and small animals
Cats love to groom themselves, but some will need a helping hand to stay in tip-top condition. Again, short-haired varieties usually need little grooming, although it's important to get them used to the process so you can give them regular check-overs. Cats with thicker, longer coats may need daily grooming to prevent the fur from getting matted and uncomfortable.
Small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs also have a variety of coats, and inevitably longer-haired varieties need more grooming. Bathing is not generally recommended because it can cause your cat or rabbit a lot of stress. If you think the coat is too tangled to sort out with a regular grooming tool, talk to your vet about alternative options.