Grooming basics that pamper your pet
What we consider self-care, most pets are…less than thrilled about. Whether you’re bathing an uptight pup or clipping the nails of a rambunctious kitten, grooming can be easier for you and for your pet. We’ve rounded up the grooming tricks that’ll keep you and your pet calm.
Before you even fill up the bathtub or sink, get your space ready. A towel on the floor will keep your dog from slipping after their bath, and one or two of their favorite waterproof toys will keep them distracted and entertained. If your pup is fond of peanut, almond, or cashew butter, a swipe or two along the side of the tub will keep them busy. Of course, if nut butters aren’t their favorite snack, just having a treat or two on standby will work just as well.
Brush out your dog’s fur and wet their face with a damp cloth before the bath begins. This will get them used to the movements of the bath first, without the surprise of the water. Fill a pitcher full of warm water, and use that to gently wet your dog’s fur. If your dog starts to shake their fur out mid-bath, place your hand on their head to keep them still—maybe even give them a scratch or two behind the ears while you’re at it to let them know how well they’re doing.
Cat owners, you can skip bathtime! Cats are excellent groomers and can be left to their own devices when it comes to keeping themselves clean. In fact, baths have a tendency to rid a cat’s fur of important oils, so baths should only be reserved for when your cat is particularly dirty or smelly.
Most cats need a nail trim every two to three weeks, and most dogs need one every three to four weeks. Ideally, you would tag team your pet’s manicure with a second person—one person to hold the pet and keep them calm, and another to trim the nails. But nails can be trimmed solo, too! You’ll learn what’s best for your specific pet over time, but as a general rule, pets respond better when you hold their paw while you’re sitting beside them or behind them. While you’re holding their foot, place your forefinger on a toe’s pad and your thumb on the top of the toe. Gently and slightly push your forefinger up and backward on the pad to extend the nail away from the foot. This will give you plenty of visibility so you can see just how much of the nail you’re trimming. This visibility is important because you need to ensure you’re not trimming the quick, which is the pink part of the nail and contains a nerve.
Just like their humans, daily toothbrushing is best for cats and dogs. Of course, that isn’t often the reality. If you’re like most of us and don’t brush your pet’s teeth every day, there is still an opportunity to start the habit. First, put a small amount of pet-friendly toothpaste (toothpaste for humans contains too much sodium and Xylitol) on your finger and let your pet smell or taste it. This will help them get acclimated to something new without the toothbrush. Once they’ve warmed up to the scent and taste, progress to dabbing a little bit of toothpaste on their tooth. From there, you can introduce the toothbrush and first have your pet lick the toothpaste off of the toothbrush. Over time, your pet may even come to expect or enjoy the experience. If they don’t, talk with your vet about food or treats that are best for oral health. They may even have oral chews that they can recommend as a toothbrushing alternative.