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Care Guide

About Care Guides[x] These care guides are written to help your clients understand common conditions, tests, and procedures, as well as to provide basic information about pet care. They are based on the most up-to-date, documented information, recommendations, and guidelines available in the United States at the time of writing. Pharmaceutical product licensing, availability, and usage recommendations are based on US product information. Use the Download Handout button to generate a PDF for printing or e-mailing to your clients.

The Importance of Grooming Your Pet

    • Regularly grooming your pet helps you be aware of changes in your pet’s body that may require veterinary attention.
    • Brushing and bathing can help keep your pet’s skin and haircoat or feathers healthy.
    • Toothbrushing is recommended for dogs, cats, and some other pets to help reduce periodontal disease, which is being recognized as a widespread problem in pets.

    The Benefits of Grooming

    Grooming does more than make your pet look good. Regular brushing, bathing, and—if necessary—trimming can help keep your pet’s skin, haircoat, and/or feathers healthy. Regular grooming also helps you be aware of changes in your pet’s body that may require veterinary attention, such as skin conditions. Time spent grooming can strengthen the relationship between you and your pet.

    Brushing

    Brushing helps to remove dirt and loose, dead hair and to prevent mats and tangles. How often you need to brush your pet depends on the species and the length and thickness of his or her hair.

    If you find a mat in your pet’s hair, do not pull on it. Pulling will be painful for your pet, and he or she will not want to be brushed again.  Also, do not try to cut mats out—you may end up accidentally cutting yourself or your pet. Special brushes and combs are available to help split and remove mats; alternatively, consult your veterinarian or a reliable groomer. Sometimes mats must be professionally clipped to resolve the matted hair.

    Bathing

    Many pets benefit from an occasional bath to remove dirt and excess skin oils that can sometimes cause skin conditions and unpleasant odors. How often—or if—you should bathe your pet depends on the species and the type of hair he or she has. Some animals need regular bathing to keep their skin healthy. Others may be overly stressed by bathing. To avoid removing too much natural skin oil (which can cause dry, itchy skin), ask your veterinarian about the best bathing schedule for your pet and whether you should use a particular shampoo or just plain water.

    Clipping and Cleaning

    Nail trimming is another important part of grooming your pet. Keeping your pet’s nails appropriately trimmed can help avoid some painful conditions (e.g., torn or overgrown nails) as well as accidental injury or damage to you, your pet, and your possessions. Trimming the nails also gives you an opportunity to examine your pet’s feet for problems like swelling, cracked pads, or mats of hair. Ask your veterinarian for tips on how to trim your pet’s nails safely. Horses’ hooves should be trimmed by professional farriers; however, picking stones and any other objects out of your horse’s feet is an essential part of daily care.

    Some pets—usually dogs—may benefit from having their ears cleaned regularly. Talk to your veterinarian if you think your dog may need his or her ears cleaned.

    Regular toothbrushing is recommended for dogs, cats, and some other pets to help reduce periodontal disease, which is being recognized as a widespread problem in pets. Bad breath is a common sign of dental problems. If possible, it is best to start brushing your pet’s teeth when your pet is young to get him or her used to it. Ask your veterinarian about how to introduce your pet to toothbrushing. Small pets with continuously growing teeth (e.g., rabbits) may sometimes need their teeth trimmed by a veterinarian.

    Certain breeds of dogs need their haircoat clipped regularly. You may want to seek out a good professional groomer for this part of taking care of your pet.

    Get the Right Tools

    Many kinds of brushes, combs, and clippers are available, and using the right ones will make grooming your pet easier for you and more enjoyable for him or her. Horse grooming requires some specialized tools, such as hoof picks. Talk to your veterinarian about what you need to groom your pet properly.