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Pet grooming schedule builder

Regular grooming is essential for keeping our dogs and cats comfortable and healthy and is also a great way to strengthen that special bond we share with them. That’s why it’s important to understand the benefits of grooming and to create a schedule that works for you and your furry friend. And whilst grooming needs vary between animals, doing the job properly will involve more than the occasional quick brush!

These days, there’s a wealth of information and equipment available to help us keep our pets looking and feeling good. Pet grooming can involve brushing, bathing, nail clipping and fur trimming. These serve an important role in preventative health, so be sure to train your pet early in their life to feel comfortable being handled. This will make grooming more enjoyable for your pet and for everyone involved, whether this is yourself, a professional groomer or your veterinarian.

Brushing

Brushing removes dirt, debris, plant matter (such as burrs) and loose hair from your pet’s coat. It also keeps their coat healthy and shiny by distributing natural oils. For pets with longer fur, brushing and combing prevent matting. Without regular grooming, matting can become painful and lead to skin infections due to trapped moisture, grass seeds or other dangerous items becoming embedded in the fur. Pets with very matted fur should be treated by a veterinarian and may require sedation.

Some people assume that cats don’t need brushing because they are so good at grooming themselves, but they do need extra help. Grooming your cat can reduce their risk of swallowing hair and forming hairballs, which can lead to intestinal blockages. In general, short haired pets can be brushed weekly (although more frequently may be better!), but those who are medium haired, long haired or shedding fur need a daily brush. Another benefit of regular brushing is that it provides the opportunity to check your pet all over for any unusual lumps or lesions and for the presence of parasites (such as fleas, ear mites or ticks). In fact, even when you use tick prevention products, a daily skin and coat search is the most important way to protect your dog or cat from tick paralysis.

Bathing

Cats usually find bathing stressful, so luckily they don’t need to be bathed unless this is advised by your veterinarian for treatment of a skin condition. On the other hand, dogs do benefit from a monthly bath to keep them clean and smelling fresh. They may need a bath more frequently if they roll in something putrid but avoid too much bathing as this can dry out their skin. Be sure to use a shampoo for dogs and ask your veterinarian for advice about the best product, particularly if your dog has allergies or other skin problems.

Nail clipping

Overgrown or broken nails can become painful and cause injury, so check your pet’s nails regularly. Your veterinarian can show you how to do this. Dogs who walk on hard surfaces usually wear their nails down, but those who spend more time indoors or walking on soft surfaces may need a trim. Your veterinarian can teach you to clip your dog’s nails safely. As an alternative, nail trimming can be done at the vet clinic or by a professional groomer to prevent the risk of cutting the nails too short, which is painful and can cause bleeding. Cats usually don’t need their claws clipped, but indoor cats sometimes develop overgrown claws, as do cats who are inactive due to age or health issues, so see your veterinarian for advice. Older cats often do need their claws trimmed so be sure to check them regularly.

Fur trimming

Some dogs and cats need their fur trimmed regularly to prevent matting or to reduce the risk of heat stress in summer. This is also true for dog breeds with non-shedding coats, such as poodles. Many breeds need particular body areas to be trimmed to prevent long fur from trapping faeces around the anus, obscuring vision, causing skin fold infections around the mouth or blocking the ear canals. The safest and most stress-free option is to employ a professional groomer or take your pet to the veterinary clinic for their trim. DIY trimming can be risky if you don’t have the level of skill needed to handle both the clippers and your wriggling pet!

Building a pet grooming schedule

To be sure you provide your dog or cat with the grooming they need, try using this easy schedule to stay on track:

Step 1: Daily coat check and brush

Although not all dogs and cats need daily brushing, setting aside a daily time ensures you give them a once-over physical health check of their skin and coat, and also their paws, nails, ears, teeth and eyes to make sure everything is normal. This gives you the best chance of detecting any problems early and seeking veterinary treatment as soon as possible. Most pets also enjoy being groomed, particularly if they are trained early with positive reinforcement such as treats. And who doesn’t enjoy a massage?

Ask your veterinarian about the most suitable equipment for brushing your pet – options include; brushes, grooming gloves and fine-toothed or wide-toothed combs to check for fleas. Pick a quiet time of day when you are both relaxed and have everything you need on hand. Also remember to carefully observe your pet’s behaviour for signs such as wriggling, tail swishing or ear flicking in cats that may indicate they are no longer comfortable being groomed. It’s best to keep things short and end on a positive note!

Step 2: Use a checklist

Once you’ve set up your daily brush and cuddle session, create a routine care checklist for the less frequent grooming tasks. This should include monthly baths (for dogs), monthly nail/claw checks/trimming (for dogs and cats) and coat trimming as required for your dog or cat (this may be annual, bi-annual, quarterly or monthly, based on advice from your veterinarian).

Step 3: Regular veterinary checks

Owners who have regular vet checks (at least annually) for their dogs and cats can receive extra support and advice for preventative health care such as grooming.

Pet grooming is part of our role as responsible owners because it promotes the health and wellbeing of our dogs and cats. Touching and grooming your pet can also help create a strong bond and may even reduce our own stress levels! And remember, if you notice anything unusual about your pet’s physical condition, they are ill, or they are involved in a specified accident you can be prepared and help protect your back pocket against potentially large vet bills with a pet insurance policy.