When your pet looks good, they feel good. Pet grooming provides many benefits that positively impact your pet’s overall health and wellbeing. While professional grooming services are sometimes needed, you can easily perform basic grooming tasks at home. However, you may be new to at-home grooming and unsure how to begin. Our Wales Animal Clinic team’s guide to the four pet grooming basics can get you started. 

#1: Brush your pet—use the right tool and the right method 

Regular brushing removes excess hair from your pet’s coat and significantly cuts down on shedding, helps remove dry skin, and distributes the natural oils in your pet’s fur and skin, keeping their coat healthy and looking its best. While you brush, examine your pet’s skin and body, checking for anything unusual, such as new lumps, ticks, fleas, or scratches. Here are some tips:

  • Choose an appropriate brush — Your pet’s coat type determines the best brush type. 
    • Slicker brushes — Slicker brushes have fine, short wires close together on a flat surface, and are ideal for pets with medium-to-long and curly hair. 
    • Bristle brushes — Bristle brushes remove loose hair, stimulate the skin, and are good for short-haired, smooth-coated pets that shed frequently.
    • Pin brushes These oval-shaped brushes have a loosely-arranged set of flexible wires with pins on top. They are useful for picking up loose hair as you finish the grooming process.
    • Rakes — These brushes are designed to penetrate thick coats and remove tangles and dead undercoat near the skin.
  • Use the right technique — Brush in the direction of coat growth and avoid brushing backward, which is uncomfortable for pets. If your pet has snags or mats, apply a coat conditioner or detangling spray and gently work through the tangle with a wide-toothed comb.

#2: Bathe your pet—wash, rinse, and dry thoroughly 

Many people love to soak luxuriously in a warm bath, but most pets aren’t so excited about being tossed in the tub. Fortunately, pets don’t need to bathe as frequently as humans—too much bathing can dry out their skin—but regular bathing is essential for cleansing and hydrating the skin and coat.

  • Use pet-friendly shampoo — Use a shampoo made for pets, as your own shampoo may contain fragrances or other ingredients that will irritate their skin. 
  • Lather up and rinse well — Wet your pet with warm water, lather shampoo on their neck and back, gently scrub their body, avoiding their ears and eyes, and rinse them thoroughly.
  • Dry your pet thoroughly — Dry your pet thoroughly using warm towels or a hair dryer on the lowest—never hot—setting. 

#3: Clip your pet—trim claws carefully

Long nails can scratch hardwood floors, snag carpet, and leave claw marks on furniture. They can also hurt your pet. If left untrimmed, your pet’s nails can curve under their paws and dig into their skin, and make walking painful. Many pets become anxious about nail trimming so, if possible, introduce the task when they are young and can slowly get used to the process. Use these tips to trim your pet’s nails at home:

  • Choose the right tool — Pet clippers come in a variety of sizes and strengths, and your veterinarian can recommend the right tool for your pet. 
  • Go slowly — Take your time, and trim away small slivers rather than large chunks, to avoid cutting the quick and causing bleeding and pain.
  • Prepare for accidents — If you accidentally cut the quick, stop the bleeding with some styptic powder.
  • Keep it quick — Watch your pet for signs of stress, and trim only a few nails or one paw per session. End every session with plenty of praise and treats for your pet to ensure the experience is positive. 

#4: Empty your pet—get professional help to express anal sacs

Anal glands are two small, oval-shaped sacs that sit inside your pet’s rectum on either side of the anus. The sacs store a thin, foul-smelling fluid that your pet secretes when they defecate. Ideally, expressing the anal glands naturally when defecating should not be a problem, but pets often develop issues that alter normal emptying and their sacs thicken and distend. If your pet has a strong, fishy odor, they are licking excessively at their hind end, or scooting along the ground, they likely need  their anal glands expressed. Incorrect expression techniques can cause pets pain or injury, so we recommend you schedule an appointment and let our team perform the procedure. 

Hopefully, you can see that grooming your pet at home is not difficult, after all. However, if you still have questions about pet grooming, or need us to express your pet’s anal glands, contact our team at Wales Animal Clinic and schedule an appointment.