Grooming Guidelines for Pet Owners

Grooming your pet is important to keep them clean and prevent certain health problems. Our Animal Hospital of Parkland team wants to ensure you perform the procedures properly, and we provide guidelines for grooming your pet at home. 

Bathing guidelines for pet owners

Unless your dog goes swimming or plays in the mud, they should only be bathed about once a month. If they have a dermatological condition, however, they will need more frequent baths. Bathing your dog too often can lead to dry skin that may cause itchiness and predispose them to skin infections. Cats are fastidious groomers and typically don’t need to be bathed unless they have a condition such as atopy that requires therapeutic bathing. Guidelines to bathe your pet properly include:

  • Choosing an appropriate shampoo — Your pet’s skin pH is different from yours so never use baby or human shampoo to bathe them. Select a product specifically formulated for your pet, and read the label to determine if dilution is necessary.
  • Protecting your pet’s ears — Place cotton balls in your pet’s ears to prevent moisture from accumulating in their ear canals.
  • Restraining your pet — You don’t want your wet pet running around your home, so have someone hold them or loop their leash around a secure object when you bathe them.
  • Wetting your pet — Use a pitcher to pour warm water over your pet to wet their coat, avoiding their eyes and ears. 
  • Shampooing your pet — Shampoo your pet, working over their entire body, including their feet, armpits, and under their tail. 
  • Washing your pet’s face — Use a wet cloth to wipe your pet’s face, avoiding their eyes, and if their face is dirty, place a small amount of diluted shampoo on the cloth.
  • Rinsing your pet — Use a pitcher to pour warm water over your pet to rinse their coat. Rinse several times to remove all residue. 
  • Drying your pet — Use a large towel to dry your pet as well as possible.

Nail trimming guidelines for pet owners

Keeping your pet’s nails trimmed is important to prevent ingrown nails and infection. Most pets need to have their nails trimmed every two to three weeks. Guidelines to trim your pet’s nails properly include:

  • Getting your pet used to the idea — Trimming your pet’s nails is easier if they are used to having their feet handled. If possible, start when they are young and handle their feet, putting gentle pressure on their paws. Practice this daily, providing treats at the end of every session.
  • Determining the correct approach — Some pets do well with limited restraint, while others need more extreme measures, such as a cat who must be burrito-wrapped in a towel. Determine what approach works best for your pet to make the process easier.
  • Using the right equipment — Use nail clippers specifically made for your pet, and ensure they are sharp. The blunt pressure from a dull blade can be painful and may cause the nail to split. 
  • Trimming the right amount — Extend your pet’s nail by putting pressure on the paw pad. Trim in front of the natural curve of the nail to prevent hitting the quick, which is the area that contains blood vessels and nerves. If you are unsure where to clip, only cut the sharp nail tip. 
  • Being prepared — Have styptic powder (i.e., blood-clotting powder) available in case you accidentally hit the quick. 

Teethbrushing guidelines for pet owners

By the time they are 3 years of age, most pets have some degree of dental disease, which can lead to serious consequences, such as loose or missing teeth, tooth root abscesses, and organ damage if the bacteria enter the bloodstream. Daily teethbrushing is important to remove plaque between professional veterinary dental cleanings and to help prevent dental disease. Guidelines to brush your pet’s teeth properly include:

  • Handling your pet’s mouth — Get your pet used to having their mouth handled. Rub their gums and teeth with your finger, and gently open their mouth. Practice this daily for several days or weeks, and provide a treat after each session to encourage them to cooperate.
  • Finding the right toothbrush — Use a soft bristle toothbrush that is small enough to fit easily and comfortably inside your pet’s mouth.
  • Using the right toothpaste — Many human dental products contain ingredients toxic to pets. Use a pet-specific toothpaste. Pet-friendly flavors, such as poultry, beef, seafood, and peanut butter, are available to tempt your pet.
  • Giving your pet a taste — Once you find a toothpaste your pet likes, put a small amount on your finger and let them lick it off. Place another small amount on your finger and gently rub it across their teeth and gums.
  • Introducing the brush — If your pet seems comfortable with the process, place a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush and let them sniff and lick the brush.
  • Going slow — Gradually rub the brush over their front teeth, angling the bristles under the gumline. As your pet gets more comfortable, brush their back teeth as well. 

Anal gland expression guidelines for pet owners

Normally dogs express their anal glands when they defecate, but some dogs need their anal glands manually expressed to avoid medical issues. Ask our veterinary team if your dog needs to have their anal glands manually expressed before performing the procedure. Guidelines to express your dog’s anal glands properly include:

  • Gathering your supplies — Gather latex gloves, petroleum lubricant, paper towels, and a wet cloth.
  • Restraining your dog — Have someone help by holding your dog.
  • Finding the anal glands — Place your pointer finger and thumb over the four o’clock and eight o’clock positions around your dog’s anus. 
  • Emptying the anal gland — Gently squeeze the anal glands, emptying the contents onto a paper towel.
  • Cleaning the area — Use the wet cloth to clean your dog’s hind end thoroughly.

If this process does not sufficiently empty your dog’s anal glands, they may require internal anal gland expression, which should be performed by a veterinary professional.

After every grooming procedure, praise your pet and give them a treat for being on their best behavior. If you need help trimming your pet’s nails or expressing their anal glands, contact our Animal Hospital of Parkland team so we can demonstrate the procedure and ensure your pet receives the grooming care they need.

By |2024-02-14T23:50:29+00:00June 15th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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