Do you ever find yourself stuck in endless “sweeping” mode, where pet hair magically accumulates around the floors at breakneck speeds? Does that “dirty pet” smell re-infiltrate the home within days of a professional grooming?
If you ever find yourself overwhelmed with messy shedding and dirty pets, rest assured there are ways to reduce the frustration. With easy grooming steps you can practice daily, weekly or even monthly, your hairy pet’s cleanliness (and vanity) can become far simpler and less of a hassle.
Follow the steps below for less damage control and fewer visits to the groomer.
1. Brush Daily
For all you cat and dog lovers out there, this one’s for you. Whether your pet sheds or not, this step is important.
A daily brushing with the right grooming tool is perfect for:
De-shedding tools and brushes work wonders on your pets and your home. Try the Furminator, which comes in multiple sizes for both cats and dogs.
By spending 3–5 minutes brushing your pet daily, you’ll be cutting back on even more time spent sweeping and vacuuming. Pick a spot outside and turn this step into your morning or bedtime routine.
2. Use a Detangler
If your pet has long hair, you’ll need to use a detangler while brushing them, too. Again, make sure to do this daily — the more tangled your pet’s hair gets, the harder it is to control.
Detanglers, or wide tooth and mat combs, help longhaired cats and dogs stay mat-free. These tools not only keep your pet cleaner but also make brush time less painful on their sensitive skin. Pay special attention to armpits and stomachs, where hair tends to mat quicker.
As a last resort for bad mats, you can cut the hair, but only do so with a comb between the scissors and skin. If at all possible, let your groomer take care of this part.
3. Schedule Baths
Fortunately, this job isn’t a daily one, but it’s still an important part of keeping your pet clean and enjoyable.
Dogs are typically fine with a bath once per month. Cats need even fewer baths and can get by with a good wash a couple times per year. The same holds true for rats or hamsters, who only need a bath when they’re noticeably dirty (and don’t clean up by themselves).
An exception to the timing rule is if your pet has gotten into something messy, walked through their pee or poop, or — as much as we’d like to deny the act — rolled around in it.
Dogs tend to be the easiest of the bunch to bathe. If you’re not comfortable cleaning your cat, a couple trips to the groomer each year will help. If you do try it on your own, make sure there’s a nonstick mat in the sink or tub and start slow.
4. Trim Their Paws
If your pet’s paws grow long hair, consider trimming it. Hair around the feet tends to grow on top, under the paws and even between the toes.
Keep an eye on hair growth throughout the week. If you notice hair growing out and swooping up from the paws, it’s time to give it a trim.
Keeping paws clean and groomed isn’t just a vanity tip — it’s important for your pet’s health and comfort, too. As hair grows between and around their paws, dirt and debris can build up quickly. If it’s cold, icy or wet outside, the hair can stay damp, causing your pet to lick until the areas are irritated.
By keeping the hair trimmed back, you’ll avoid a messy house and hot spots around paws.
5. Trim Their Nails
Cats, dogs and even rodents need regular nail trimming. While you might think clipping their nails is for your own sake, it helps keep them comfortable, too.
Toenails typically shouldn’t make contact with the ground. If they do, it can be painful for your pet. Every time their nails are pressed up against a hard surface, the other end of the nail presses into their nail beds, which can hurt their toes. Long toenails can even affect your pet’s stature and stance, so make sure to keep an eye on their growth, trimming every 1–2 weeks.
With all animals, it’s important to stay calm and relaxed when trimming nails. If your pet is scared of the clippers, try to sooth them with praise or treats. Always start slow to avoid trimming their quick, which can be painful and messy.
Even rodents need nail trimming on occasion. Try holding them with a small towel and using regular nail clippers for the job. Again, be conscious of how close to the quick you are. Trim gradually and take your time.
Who says cats don’t like baths?:
6. Clean Their Ears
Just as daily brushing should be a habit, make checking your pet’s ears a habit, too. All pets need their ears cleaned, but it’s especially important for animals with long hair or floppy ears.
Fur inside the ears holds onto moisture, which can quickly lead to infections. To avoid unnecessary trips to the vet, keep a supply of cotton balls and ear rinse on hand.
Understandably, pets don’t like having things shoved inside their ears. Along with lots of praise and treats, gently wipe around the under-flap of the ear with a cotton ball and ear rinse. Slowly make your way closer to the inner ear with a new, clean cotton ball. Check your pet’s ears daily and clean weekly to keep them healthy.
As with any of these tips, if at-home grooming becomes too difficult to manage on your own, ask your vet or groomer for help.
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