A thorough brushing is a quick way to make your pet look good and feel better, but there are other components of grooming that are equally important. Examining and caring for their skin, teeth, nails, eyes and ears are also vital parts of a good grooming practice.
Most cats and dogs enjoy being brushed, so brushing is typically a good place to start your grooming routine. They will love your undivided attention, as well as the feel of the brush against their skin. While you are brushing them, pay close attention to their skin and anything that looks unusual; dry flakey patches, lumps or sores. (These are things you should report and review with your veterinarian.) Matted fur is also something that can be very problematic. Pets with matted fur can become very uncomfortable because of the constant tightness and pulling on their skin. Often times, such matts need to be removed by an experienced groomer or veterinarian. (You should never attempt to cut matted fur off with a pair of scissors or other sharp instrument.) Keeping up with a regular brushing routine can alleviate the problem of matted fur.
While it may not be as fun as brushing, it is also important to take a look at your pet’s teeth and nails. When inspecting your pet’s teeth, pay particular attention to the gums and anything that appears unusually red or inflamed. Bleeding gums, uncommonly bad breath, or unusual bumps along the gum line should be reported to your veterinarian. Regular brushing of your pet’s teeth can greatly reduce the chance of tooth decay and gum inflammation. After your tooth inspection, take a look at your pet’s nails. Do they look too long? Are they curling under or hitting the pads of their feet? If so, it’s definitely time for a trim. Nails that are too long can impede your pet’s ability to walk comfortably and can eventually pierce into the soft pads of their feet. It can be very painful. Trimming the nails is necessary, but can be difficult if you are inexperienced in trimming them. Since cutting the nails too short can be extremely painful to your pet, many people opt to have a groomer or veterinarian take on the task.
As a final step in your grooming routine, take a look at your pet’s eyes and ears. Eyes should be bright and clear of tear buildup. Many dog breeds tend to have a lot of tearing which can ultimately turn into a hard, gummy mess around the eyes. It is important to remove as much of this material as possible to prevent eye irritation. A warm, damp wash cloth usually works the best. For the ears, look for any signs of redness, foul smell, or dark discharge. These symptoms may indicate an ear infection which will need to be treated by your veterinarian. For dogs primarily, look for any hair that may be growing into the ear canal. Besides being uncomfortable, it can also lead to a painful ear infection. Since trimming this hair can be difficult, it is usually safest to have a professional dog groomer do it for you.
A regular at-home grooming routine help pets remain happy and healthy. You and your pet will enjoy your extra time together and you will gain first-hand knowledge of your pet’s overall health. ©