Most pet owners understand the importance of veterinary care, but do not realize that regular grooming is also key for overall wellness. In addition to maintaining optimal health, grooming provides an opportunity to spot skin conditions, parasites, growths, and other problems, and provides bonding time with your pet. At Columbia Pike Animal Hospital, we offer professional grooming services for pets, and encourage you to participate in your pet’s grooming between services. Here are five reasons to groom your pet, to ensure they stay clean, happy, and healthy.
#1: Keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy
All pets benefit from regular skin and coat care. Short-haired pets can often be bathed and brushed at home, while long-haired pets require such at-home care between professional grooming, making this a great time to inspect your pet for parasites, oily or dry skin, lumps or bumps, or any other issues. Report any problems to your veterinarian right away.
- Brushing — Brushing removes dead hair and skin cells, spreads natural oils that keep the coat shiny, and prevents matting. Matted hair, which can pull skin tightly, and trap moisture and debris that can lead to infection, can cause your pet discomfort. As an added bonus, the more hair you remove while brushing, the less ends up on your furniture. Short-haired breeds should be brushed once a week, while medium- and long-haired breeds may need daily brushing.
- Bathing — Bathing also removes dead hair and skin, and washes away excess oil and dirt. Most dogs with normal skin need baths about once per month—more frequently may strip their skin’s moisture. Avoid using human shampoos, as the pH is too harsh, and use oatmeal or aloe-based pet shampoos instead. Most cats do not require bathing unless they develop a skin condition, or have trouble keeping up with self-grooming as they age. Dogs and cats with skin conditions may require bathing every few days or weeks, using a medicated shampoo prescribed by their veterinarian.
- Trimming—Long-haired breeds benefit from regular cuts and trims, to prevent matting, and keep their coat in top shape. Your groomer knows each breed well, and can recommend the best option for your pet. Some breeds don’t require full hair cuts, but can still benefit from trimming around the eyes, ears, feet, and hind end, to keep these areas clean and hygienic.
#2: Prevent ear infections in your pet
Ear infections are a common and uncomfortable problem for dogs, but can be prevented with regular ear care. Clean your pet’s ears after each bath, and anytime they swim or play in water. Your veterinarian can dispense a pet ear cleaning solution, and show you how to use it, but your groomer or veterinary team also can perform this task. Inspect your pet’s ears each time you clean—a small amount of waxy or tan material lining the ear canal is normal, but you should call your veterinarian if you notice any thick buildup or a foul odor, which may indicate infection.
#3: Keep your pet’s nails at a comfortable length
Overgrown nails can change the way your pet walks, leading to joint pain and decreased traction on slippery floors. Left unclipped for long periods, nails can curl around into the paw pads, causing painful puncture wounds and infections. Sometimes nails can split or break, exposing the sensitive quick. Keeping your pet’s nails trimmed short can prevent these painful problems, and saves your floors and furniture from damage, too. Nails grow and wear down naturally at different rates, so nails should be trimmed every two to six weeks, depending on your pet’s needs. Your groomer and veterinary team are skilled at nail trimming and can do this for you, or can show you how to trim your pet’s nails at home.
#4: Jumpstart your pet’s oral health
Daily toothbrushing is recommended for all pets, but if you are one of many pet owners who falls short of this recommendation, grooming offers an opportunity to check on your pet’s dental health. Toothbrushing is often offered as an add-on service to bathing, and while not a professional dental cleaning, has some value. Monthly brushing during your pet’s bath probably won’t make a huge impact on their oral health, but your groomer might be able to spot potential problems—like a fractured tooth—sooner than you otherwise would have. You should also use each tooth brushing session as motivation to establish and keep up with your own oral home care routine for your pet.
#5: Prevent a smelly, uncomfortable gland issue
Your pet’s anal glands are small vestigial scent glands that hold a fishy-smelling fluid, which is normally released when your pet has a bowel movement. Sometimes, the fluid becomes thickened and prevents the glands from emptying on their own, which causes them to enlarge, become uncomfortable, and sometimes become infected or develop an abscess. Signs of a developing problem including licking or “scooting” the hind end, or smelling the fishy odor on your pet. Your groomer will check and empty the glands as part of your pet’s bathing service, and can alert you if the fluid looks abnormal. If your pet has continued problems, your veterinarian can perform this service, and look for an underlying cause.
Regular grooming can keep your pet looking and feeling their best, inside and out. At Columbia Pike Animal Hospital, we have all your pet’s needs covered. Call us to schedule a visit with our grooming team, or to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian, if you have any concerns or questions about your pet’s skin, nail, or ear care.