One important aspect of responsible pet ownership is regular grooming. Ongoing care of your dog’s coat, skin, nails and ears are essential to your pet’s health.
"Grooming is about more than appearance and making your pet nice to be near. Weekly maintenance is essential to keeping your pet’s skin and coat healthy and insect-free," says Val Penstone, director of grooming for Best Friends Pet Care. "In addition grooming time can also be quality time that strengthens the bond between you and your pet."
A regular grooming routine should include the following:
- Brush and comb at least weekly , more often for pets with long hair. For your pet’s comfort, use a conditioning and untangling spray before brushing. After systematically brushing though the coat, use a professional steel-pinned comb to make sure that all the knots and shedding hair have been removed.
- Look for signs of irritation due to parasites . In many areas of the country, fleas and ticks have become a year-round problem. If you stop your parasite prevention program as winter approaches, be especially vigilant about checking pets. And don’t forget to start again in the spring.
- Keep allergies under control with regular shampooing. Pets are four-legged dust mops that pick up anything floating around in the environment. Shampooing removes spores, dust, dirt and dander. Select a medicated pet shampoo if you suspect skin problems or parasites. Follow with a conditioning rinse. Towel dry thoroughly, then separate the hair by brushing and combing to speed drying down to the skin. If you use a standard home hair dryer, be aware that it is very easy to burn your pet. Hold it well away from the skin and use a cool setting.
- Keep nails the proper length. Use only a proper nail clipping tool specifically made for your pet, and take off a small amount at a time. Stay well away from the "quick", the point at which there is blood flow. Be prepared with a styptic product in case you do clip into the blood vessel. If your pet has dark nails, the quick is difficult to see and you may want a professional do this chore for you.
- Check ears for problems. Weekly cleaning, with a solution made for ear care is a good year-round preventative measure. Massaging the solution into the ear softens wax and dirt, floating it to the exterior ear, where you can wipe it gently away with cotton.
If there are tasks you can not or do not want to undertake yourself on a regular basis, seek the help of a professional groomer. Check your local Best Friends center for a groomer near you.