Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pet Grooming Mistakes

By Julia Williams

We all want to take great care of our pets, because we love them. Our pets depend on us to do the things they’re unable to do for themselves. They count on us to make good decisions for their health and longevity. Choosing a nutritious pet food (like CANIDAE and FELIDAE, of course!) is one of the more obvious ways to contribute to your pet’s wellbeing. Another vital aspect of responsible pet ownership is grooming. Whether you have a dog or a cat, not paying careful attention to certain grooming needs can lead to more serious problems later.

Proper Coat Care

Regular brushing or combing is essential for all long-haired dogs and cats. However, short-haired pets benefit from brushing too, because it lets you examine their bodies for fleas, ticks, lumps and anything unusual. Brushing removes loose fur, dirt and irritants, and distributes natural oils throughout your pet’s coat. Regular brushing also reduces the likelihood of matting, which can cause pain and may lead to infection. Brushing long-haired cats helps to cut down on the formation of hairballs.

Depending on your pet’s breed and their coat type, regular brushing can mean anything from once a day to once a week. It’s up to you to determine the best schedule. It’s equally important to choose the right grooming tools. There are countless options available; which one is right for your pet’s coat is something you might want to discuss with your vet or a grooming professional.

Don't Forget the Feet

Both dogs and cats need regular nail trimming, typically about once a month but the frequency varies depending on how much time your pet spends outdoors and what surfaces they walk on. Aside from the damage that long nails can do to furniture, hardwood floors, carpeting and your skin, there are health-related reasons for keeping your pet’s nails trimmed. For dogs, long nails can split and become infected; long nails can also stress the joints in their paws and contribute to arthritis, splayed toes and discomfort when walking. Not trimming a cat’s curved claws may cause them to grow into the paw pad, which is painful at best and may cause a nasty abscess.

Although many pets don’t love having their feet messed with, it is something that needs to be done. Nail trimming is not overly difficult and can be done at home or by a professional groomer. See How to Give Your Pooch a Pedicure, and/or ask your vet to demonstrate the proper technique.

Don't Allow Pets to “Self Groom” Toxins

Dogs and cats that go outside can pick up all sorts of toxic substances on their paws – such as motor oil, antifreeze, chemical de-icers, road salt, fertilizers and pesticides. Instead of letting them lick these things off their paws, a quick cleaning with a nontoxic pet wipe when they come indoors will remove potential toxins. For dogs, you might also want to apply a natural paw balm that not only acts as a barrier to harmful substances and protects their feet from the elements, but helps heal cracked, dry foot pads too.

Pet Bathing Blunders

Some people assume that a gentle/natural shampoo made for humans is okay to use on their pet. However, because cats and dogs have different skin pH than we do, it’s essential to use only bath products that are made for pets. Other common pet bathing mistakes are not rinsing thoroughly, and bathing too often – both of these can contribution to skin irritation.

Don't Ignore the Ears

Floppy-eared dogs are not the only ones who benefit from regular ear cleaning. The ear canals of all dogs and cats provide a warm, moist environment that bacteria and yeast thrive in. Cats are also susceptible to ear mites which can cause redness and itching. Although the microscopic mites are not easy to see with the naked eye, they leave debris that resembles coffee grounds in the ear. A cat with ear mites will also shake its head and scratch at the ears. Regular cleaning of your dog or cat’s ears with a gentle antimicrobial ear wash guards against infection and helps reduce the buildup of wax. Dogs should also have their ears cleaned after spending time in the water. Just be sure to have your vet demonstrate the proper technique so you don’t injure their ear drum.

Hire a “Pro” When Needed

Although grooming is an essential aspect of responsible pet ownership, sometimes the task is better left to a professional. For example, some breeds have specific skin and coat requirements that need the expertise of an experienced groomer. Additionally, if you’re uncomfortable performing any grooming task or question your capability to do it safely and effectively, it’s better for you and your pet to enlist the aid of a professional.

Photo by C.A. Muller

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. That is some good information. I am the world's worst dog owner. My dogs need a lot more attention than they get.But I do try to do my best. Those were all good suggestions. Take care.

  2. Thanks for those tips! They are really helpful to a layman like me.


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