Recently, a sweet Maltese mix named Missy arrived at Marin Humane in poor condition. His hair was horribly matted – a condition that can be quite painful and even dangerous for an animal.
“I saw a dog’s paw stuck to its body and its eyes closed,” said Samantha Winegarner, animal care manager at Marin Humane. “You can’t brush or comb them once they’re badly tangled, you can only shave them.”
Grooming isn’t just about making your pet look good. It is an important part of their overall health and comfort.
Brushing, for example, helps remove dirt and keep hair and fur tangle-free. It allows you to check your pet for fleas, ticks and skin problems. And, of course, it dramatically reduces hair loss. Keeping nails trimmed prevents them from digging into your pet’s pads, tearing, or getting caught on objects. It can also keep your furniture, carpets and floors in good condition. Finally, grooming can serve as a “mini health check” so you can spot bumps, bumps, or any issues with a pet’s eyes, teeth, and ears.
Although both cats and dogs may require grooming, there are a few differences.
As anyone who has had a cat can attest, they are usually quite demanding. They spend a large part of their day cleaning themselves. Their rough tongues are great for bathing, so cats don’t usually need baths. But some kittens, especially long-haired ones, require weekly or even daily brushing. Here are some reasons why it is important to brush your cat:
• To avoid matting. Carpets can be extremely uncomfortable. Sometimes the only way to remove carpets is to shave them. Never try to remove carpets with scissors.
• To reduce losses. Brushing helps reduce hair loss by removing excess fur.
• To help you build relationships. Since most kittens love to be brushed, this is the perfect time to bond with your feline friend.
• To help distribute natural oils to your cat’s skin and coat. Brushing helps distribute the oils produced by her skin, keeping your cat’s coat shiny and free of irritants.
• To help reduce hairballs. Some cats have hairball issues, especially those with long hair.
Cats usually need their nails trimmed, especially if they don’t go outside. Special nail clippers will help you keep them trimmed without cutting the snitch, which can be painful. If you are not comfortable trimming your cat’s nails, your veterinarian’s office will usually provide this service.
Unlike cats, dogs don’t really bathe. Often this can be done at home or at self-service dog wash stations at pet stores. In general, dogs with long fur or hair need professional grooming. Dogs that have hair rather than fur (like poodles, shih tzus, etc.) don’t shed; their hair continues to grow and needs regular trims. And, like cats, dogs need their nails trimmed regularly.
Often people opt for a professional groomer. Before choosing one, be sure to tour the facility to make sure it’s clean and safe and that the staff seem knowledgeable and caring.
For grooming to go well, get your dog or cat used to the feeling of being touched, both on their body and on their paws. Start when they are young. If you’re trying to habituate an adult, start by gently massaging their coat as you feed them. Gradually introduce a brush or comb and reward your pet for their cooperation. The more comfortable they feel with grooming, the better they will tolerate it.
As for Missy, after her grooming session, she became the lovable and much more comfortable dog and soon after went home forever.
Lisa Bloch is the Director of Marketing and Communications for Marin Humane, which contributes Tails of Marin articles and welcomes animal-related questions and stories about people and animals in our community. Go to marinhumane.orgemail [email protected] or social media @marinhumane.