Do your pets sleep on the bed or doze on the couch while you watch Desperate Housewives or Monday Night Football? Among the 71 million pet owners in the United States, it’s estimated that 41 percent of owners allow our furry friends to live indoors and sleep in our beds. Over time, that’s a lot of fur and animal dandruff making its way to our clothes and skin.
Grooming your pet regularly will go a long way to alleviate the smell and allergy factors in your home, whether you pay someone to wash Fido or do it yourself.
The essentials of at-home pet grooming will include a bit of knowledge about your pet and simple supplies. It would be wise to ask your veterinarian how often to bathe your pet. Dogs that are more active outside will require more upkeep. A cat will often go its entire life without a bath.
To avoid stressing your pet, make grooming routine and brief. The earlier a grooming ritual is introduced, the more quickly your pet will grow accustomed to a brush, running water and toenail trimmers.
Both cats and dogs can benefit from routine grooming. Here are some suggestions to keep your pet, and house, smelling fresh and dander-free.
Dogs and cats both will benefit from regular brushing, which helps remove dead, loose fur and dandruff from the pet’s coat. For dogs, it’s best to brush before bath time, as you’ll remove loose fur, and in turn, keep it from the drain or driveway. If your pet isn’t accustomed to the brush, take it slow and offer rewards after each session. Pretty soon, they’ll be eager for a brushing.
Tools of the trade for at-home baths include mild shampoo, old towels, and a faucet extender if the animal is washed in the bathtub. Bathe a dog every week to two weeks in warm-weather months, and once every six to eight weeks during cooler seasons. Signs that a dog needs a bath include scratching or a musky odor that lingers on your hands after petting.
Too many baths, however, can strip the essential oils from the pet’s coat and lead to scratching and flaky skin. A cat’s skin is generally more sensitive to heat, so use caution with the water temperature. Its best to bathe your cat in an enclosed bathroom to avoid them leaping from a kitchen sink and crashing to the floor in a panic.
- Use a bath mat in the tub to keep your pet from slipping.
- Remove the pet’s regular collar, as dyes in the material can leach into the fur.
- Ease your pet into bathing. Get them accustomed to the sound of running water.
- Check the water temperature; it doesn’t need to be hot; warm works fine.
- Dilute the shampoo in water or rub it into your hands before applying to a pet’s coat.
- Rinse the fur well, as residual shampoo will irritate the skin.
- Dry with old towels. Give them time in the sun to warm their skin or use a hairdryer set on low.
Consult with your veterinarian or a professional groomer for tips on cutting your pet’s toenails. Dark-pigmented toenails are more difficult to clip, and often best left to a professional.
With periodontal disease in pets on the rise, owners are encouraged to scrub the cat’s and dog’s teeth regularly to remove debris and plaque buildup. Popular methods include using durable pet toothbrushes or jumbo finger-tip tooth scrubbers.
Tip:Always use toothpaste made for pets as toothpaste for humans is harmful to pets when ingested.
Cat and dog ears, depending on how they fold, will benefit from a routine wipe. Keep the cleaning cocktail simple by using rubbing alcohol, which dries quickly, and a touch of household white vinegar. Soak a cotton ball, squeeze and then apply to the ear opening. An unscented baby wipe also comes in handy to remove built-up ear wax.
Clipping a pet’s toenails can be an exasperating experience. Your best bet is to start when the animal is young, so your pet becomes desensitized to the experience. Not trimming a dog’s toenails can lead to painful overgrowths, curled nails and infections in the pads.
- Sharp pair of pet toenail clippers, often referred to as “guillotine style.”
- Styptic powder or gel to help stem any bleeding, should you nick the nail’s quick.
- Patience. You might have to do a couple nails a day to curb anxiety in your pet.
Note: Consult with your veterinarian or a professional groomer for tips on cutting your pet’s toenails. Dark-pigmented toenails are more difficult to clip, and often best left to a professional.
What to Watch For:
- Fur that is breaking low at the skin might be infected with mange. Check with your vet if you notice breakage or bald spots on your pet.
- Raw spots by the tail, groin or armpits could indicate hot spots or allergies.
- Red, puffy toes might be signs of an ingrown nails or blisters in the nail bed.
- Blisters or pimple-like eruptions around the mouth also could indicate allergies.
Tips for the Household:
- Vacuum both the floor and furniture frequently. Today’s vacuums come equipped with filters that remove airborne particulates, like skin and dust.
- Wash your pet’s blankets and bedding.
- Change or wash the stuffing in pet beds.
- Open the windows and let the fresh air push the old out.
“Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.” Franklin P. Jones
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