Friday, April 25, 2014

Hairball Awareness Day & Pet Grooming!

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


rescuegal said...

Another good article by Ms. Darlene Arden filled with excellent dog and cat grooming advice. I especially like the idea of putting an old screen in the bottom of the sink when bathing a can. I use a rubber gripper mat in the bottom of the sink when bathing my small dogs, so using a screen for cats makes perfect sense. Grooming your pet is definitely a necessary part of having a pet.

Darlene said...

Thank you so much for your comment rescuegal. I'm glad you like the tip about using a screen at the bottom of the sink when bathing a cat. It's nice to be able to share something so simple that can be so helpful!

Gordon Brice said...

Some great tips as always from Darlene Arden. A well groomed pet is a happy pet and, if people take the trouble to ensure good grooming of their pet, or pets, it is likely that they will do everything else to ensure their happiness and well-being too. These things should not be looked upon as chores, but, as Darlene says, bonding sessions.

Darlene said...

Thank you so much for your comment, Gordon Brice. Grooming is very important and I'm afraid a lot of pet owners don't really think about it. I hope more pet owners will start brushing and combing their companions and take that extra opportunity to bond, to check for lumps, bumps and fleas and ticks as well.

Images of Butterflies said...

I have a 3 year dog. How many years before he starts to shed?

Darlene said...

Hairballs are a cat problem because they clean themselves and swallow the fur. Your dog may have hair not fur, in which case he will not shed any more than a human would.

Grooming Tails said...

That helped me a lot! Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks again!
Mobile Pet Grooming Van