There are two basic reasons to have your dog or cat groomed. First for the overall health of your pet and second is for the aesthetics of your pet. A dog that has long, thick, curly or a double coat can matt so badly that air will not circulate through the coat.
This can result in skin infections and contain dirt, “stickers”, twigs, etc. It is also healthier for the pet owner as they are not subject to breathing in dander, being in contact with saliva in the coat, etc.
The aesthetic reasons are that your pet will just look better and feel better. Depending on the type of dog you have you may or may not be limited in the amount of grooming you are able to perform.
There are 7 basic coat types. Smooth-coated breeds like a Beagle. Short-coated breeds like an Austrailan Cattle Dog. Double-coated breeds like a Siberian Husky. Long silky coated breeds a Cocker Spaniel. Harsh, wiry coated breeds like a Standard Schnauzer. Curly-coated breeds like a Bichon Frise. The last are Corded Coated breeds such as the Komondor and Puli.
If you have a smooth coated dog or a short coated dog you can probably do most of the grooming yourself. If you have a long silky coated breed a curly or wiry coated breed clipping and or scissoring may be necessary.
If you have the time, money to invest you can probably groom right at home. If you get into clipping you will need to purchase professional clippers, shears, a grooming table, and instructional videos. This is another matter entirely. This article will cover basic grooming.
I would like to mention that keeping a dog or cat, playing with them, sleeping with them is entirely different than trying to groom them. Put yourself in the animals position. They may not want to be there. You may be putting them into positions that they are not accustomed to. You have to educate yourself on how a dog or cat moves. When grooming it is not enough to be an animal lover but you need to have a great deal of patience as well.
Basic tools and products would include but are not limited to a soft slicker brush, a combination pin/bristle brush, a stainless steel comb, dog rake, a rubber curry brush, nail clippers and a flea comb. a quality shampoo, conditioner, ear wash, nail anti-coagulant.
If your dog is matted and if you are not familiar with wielding a pair of clippers leave this to a professional groomer to clip or de-matt you dog or cat. I have seen many an accident where the pet owner mistook a matt for the skin and cut an ear.
Brushing and combing your dog are very basic steps but may possibly be the most important. The reason being is that certain breeds in particular are prone to matting and you dog must be thoroughly brushed and combed out so as not to tangle the coat. A good practice is that if you are conditioning your dog. Brush the conditioner through its coat. Rinse carefully.
Always use lukewarm water never hot and never cold. Cold water will bring out the oils in some breeds and as we all know water and oil do not mix. Make sure your pet is thoroughly wet before applying shampoo. Some shampoos can be diluted. This way you can use a mixing bottle and attain better coverage over the animal. Another tip is to lightly place a couple of cotton balls in your pets ears to keep water from entering the ear canal.
A slicker brush can be used in two ways. As a straight brush as well as removing light matts and tangles using a rolling motion along the curve of the brush. The rubber curry brush is great when bathing your dog especially with a smooth coated breed. A stainless steel comb which usually comes with coarse teeth on one end and fine on the other. Use the coarse side first then moving on to the fine side for combing drop coats, ears and the tail.
An ear wash should be used after the bath. Put a few drops in each ear. Let your pet give a shake. This will help loosen any dirt. Use cotton balls or makeup remover pads to light wipe out the ear. Never push a cue tip or cotton ball always wipe out and away from the ear.
Nail clipping takes some practice. If you are nervous or uncomfortable clipping your pets nails they will sense it and usually pull away. When clipping your pets nail hold the animal close to your body and hold its paw firmly. Use a finger or your thumb to mark where you want to clip. A good rule of thumb so to speak is to cut just inside the curl of the nail. When you see a black dot emerge in the middle of the nail. This is the quick. Stop here. If you do cut the quick. Do not panic. There may be a quite a lot of blood. Be prepared with an anti-coagulant powder/liquid. If you do not have this on hand you can scrape a little bar soap on the nail and pack it in to stop the blood. Cornstarch will usually work as well.
So, there you have it. Learning how to properly groom your pet is vital to both its health and appearance. It is good practice to keep your dog or cat properly brushed out and bathed. this should also be performed between grooming appointments. This will be easier on your pet so as to keep them matt free and easier on your groomer. Which will usually be easier on your pocketbook.
Always use professional tools. Go to a reputable pet store in person or online with your list and talk with a salesperson. Cheap pet tools and clippers will be a waste of time and your hard earned money and could potentially harm your pet.
Always use lukewarm water and shield your pets eyes from shampoos and conditioners. Especially, medicated shampoos. An ear wash should be used after the bath. Do not attempt to use a human blow dryer. These can get too hot and burn your dog. Just use a good an absorbent towel. A little tip to prevent your dog from shaking water all over. Hold his/her muzzle. The shake starts with the head.
Nail clipping does take practice. A good practice to start is when watching T.V or just sitting with your dog. Rub their paws. If they pull away. Rub another paw and so on. This will get them comfortable with you handling them. Then you can introduce the clippers.