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Grooming can be a stressful experience for both you and your pet! But, it doesn't HAVE to be! Grooming is an important part of pet care, so learn how to develop good grooming habits that don't leave you annoyed and your pet hiding under the bed!
getting off on the right foot
Start young! You have the opportunity to make grooming a good experience for both you and your pet. Cats and dogs donít automatically hate having their hair brushed or their nails trimmed, theyíre just nervous. Itís only after a bad experience, like being held down or punished for struggling, that they begin to associate grooming with discomfort. Avoid this negative association by starting when your pet is young and allowing him to adjust gradually to the grooming process. Make grooming fun, with lots of petting, praise, and rewards.
When your pet is calm and relaxed, try looking in his ears while you pet him. If he becomes nervous or uncomfortable - stop. Play with his paws, first, gently touching them, then by picking them up and massaging them. Get him used to having his stomach touched (which is particularly important for cats), his armpits and groin examined, and his mouth opened and his teeth touched. This will help your pet understand that these activities are non-threatening, and make your grooming chores easier in the long run. You should start with two or three minutes sessions. You can build to longer sessions as your pet gets more comfortable..
Your pet may initially be a frightened of the brush, so start by showing him the brush, letting him sniff it, and giving him a treat. Next, you can run the flat side of the brush along his body, letting him get used to the motion of the brush. Brush your pet often enough that you donít have to pull through mats or tangles, so the experience will be pain free.
Most pets arenít real happy about having their ears cleaned, so try to be patient and give your pet a lot of encouragement. You can start by just touching the outer rim of the ear, using a cotton ball or gauze and ear cleaning solution from your veterinarian.
Start by only snipping off the very tip of the nail. As you and your pet become more comfortable, you can start to snip the nail away in thin cross-sections, checking each layer until you see a dark area in the center, which signals the beginning of the quick (blood vessel). If you cut the quick, it will be painful for the pet, so try to avoid it. Accidents happen though from time to time, so have some styptic powder or sticks available to stop the bleeding.
Veterinarians recommend brushing your pets teeth at least three times a week! To introduce your pet to brushing, wrap a piece of gauze around your finger and use it like a toothbrush on the pet's teeth. Wipe all the teeth, front and back, with strokes from the gums to the tip of the tooth. Do this for one to two weeks until your pet is familiar with having its gums and teeth rubbed.
Once your pet is used to having your fingers in his mouth change to a soft toothbrush and plain water. After a week add a small amount of special dog or cat toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste as it may irritate the pet's stomach and the "foaming" tends to frighten them. The brush should be held at a 45-degree angle to the tooth surface and be moved in an circular motion. Your pet's dental health can be improved by feeding your pet dry food and offering hard biscuits after each meal. Hard biscuits produce abrasion to help keep plaque to a minimum on the crown of each tooth. Examine your pet's teeth for signs of periodontal disease, such as brownish colored teeth, swollen, red, or bleeding gums, bad breath; loose teeth, broken teeth; and any unusual growth or odour in the mouth.