|Photo of Neezie by Darlene Arden|
Grooming your pet is an important part of pet care. It doesn't just make your pet look and feel better but it also gives you a chance to bond together and relax. It can be a rather zen-like time. Start when your puppy or kitten is small, don't pull, don't let knots develop. It's just as horribly painful for a dog or cat as it is for a small child to have tangled hair that's being pulled. If you have a coated dog or cat, daily brushing and grooming is a good habit to get into.
I speak from experience. While my own hair is an eternal bad hair day, I learned to groom a Yorkshire Terrier in full Specials Coat. You know what that is - it's that long flowing coat you see on television when they're broadcasting dog shows. In order to keep the coat from breaking and have that flawless look, the dog is bathed once a week. That's followed by a detangling cream rinse and then (oh, yes, there's more) the coat is oiled and wrapped. Back in the day when I learned to do it, we used bakery wrappers. Each bakery wrapper was folded in half and then in thirds. The coat is sectioned off so it doesn't pull and each section divided. The hair is put in the middle of the third, the other parts are folded over and than it's secured with an elastic band. Don't pull it tightly. Don't put a topknot up tightly, either, or your dog could end up with alopecia (baldness) from the hair being pulled from the roots. It's painful and you don't want to cause pain. The wraps are redone either every day or every other day.
Dogs without a hair coat can do well with a chamois cloth. Short or medium coats will need a brush and comb.
Dogs with hair don't shed any more than we do but dogs with fur will certainly shed and this is the time of year when our dogs and cats are shedding profusely as they lose their Winter coat in preparation for Summer. It actually is the sun that helps this process along.
Whenever you bathe your cat or dog, be sure to rinse out the shampoo and conditioner thoroughly. Leave no traces behind.
When we think of hairballs - and today is National Hairball Awareness Day - we think of cats. Why? Well, they tend to cough up hairballs and usually leave them someplace where we are bound to accidentally step in it. The reason they cough up hairballs is because they ingest their own hair when they groom themselves. Those rough little tongues that give up sandpaper kisses feel like that because they have little hook-like structures on the tongue, set backwards, and that helps pull the hair out when grooming. We need to help them along so they won't have so many hairballs. Daily brushing and combing can go a long way in this regard. At its worst, the dog or cat's coat will mat and you don't want to go there. Mats will have to be very carefully cut out. Don't let it progress that far!
|Photo by Darlene Arden|
A bath will cut down on the amount of shedding but shed they will. A veterinary dermatologist who worked at Boston's famed Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, told me to put on old screen at the bottom of the sink before bathing a cat. The cat's claws grip onto the screen and there's less chance of you being scratched. It also gives the cat something to hang onto.
The type of brush or comb will depend upon the length of the coat, just as it does with a dog. With my Chartreux, Aimee, who is double coated, all she really needs is a good combing but I go a little further. At the suggestion of the breeder from whom I got her, I bought a ZoomGroom. This is a rubber brush and it helps loosen dead hair that can them be combed out. It also gives a nice massage so Aimee just loves it!
I have heard a great deal about the Furminator, a tool for grooming pets that gets rid of dead hair. Unfortunately, I've never been given the opportunity to test one so I cannot tell you anything about it from personal experience. It's on my "wish list."
I can tell you that for distributing oils, and for a healthy skin and coat, grooming is very important. Use it as a bonding time. Relax and enjoy your special companion. And do your best to eliminate hairballs and tangles before they start!
|Photo of Alana by Claire Clayton|