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Looking Good: 10 Tips for shampooing and grooming your pet

Our resident vet Zoe, shares her top tips on grooming and shampooing your pet.

Regular grooming is important, not only to ensure that your pets coat stays in good condition, but it can also increase the bond between you and your pet.   However some cats and dogs hate being groomed and you may feel that it actually worsens the bond between you.  This is normally because they have had a bad experience or that they have a long matted coat which hurts when you brush.  This article aims to help you if you have a pet who hates being groomed and will give you some top tips to ensure your pet remains looking their best.

1.    Start young

If you have a puppy or kitten it is really important to get them used to being brushed from an early age.  Introduce a soft brush and use it daily making sure to give them lots of tasty treats while you brush them.

2.    Keep grooming positive

If you have a dog or cat who hates being groomed you can train them to accept it.  Use a soft brush and introduce brushing slowly.  Brush gently over their back and then reward them with a tasty treat.  Always brush in the same direction as the hair coat.  The idea is to get them used to the brush initially and not to actually groom them.  Build up the time and intensity until you can brush them effectively without them resenting it.

3.    Train your dog to stand to be groomed

Dogs can be trained to stand up while you groom them by using positive reward based training.  Use a treat and ask them to sit.  Walk forward holding the treat in front of their nose and they should then stand.  When they can do this reliably say “Stand” as they stand up and reward them.  When you can use the Stand command to make them stand up combine this with brushing, gradually building up the time that you brush them for.

4.    Have a daily routine

Grooming your pet at the same time each day will ensure that your pet comes to expect being groomed.  Brushing dogs after a walk is a good idea to rid them of mud and burrs which could matt in their coat.  It also means that you will see any ticks that they may have picked up on a walk.  Brushing cats before you give them their tea will help make sure that they start to look forward to being brushed.

5.    Use specialist pet shampoos

The pH of your pet’s skin is not the same as human skin, so use a shampoo that is specially formulated for pets.  Use a mild shampoo such as Bob Martin Spring conditioning shampoo for routine bathing or Bob Martin Spring gentle puppy and dog shampoo for puppies or dogs with more sensitive skin.  If your dog has a tendency to roll in unsavoury things then you may need a deodorising shampoo such as Fox Poo shampoo.  This will neutralise the bacteria causing the smell and leave your dog smelling fresh again without the need for several shampoos.

6.    Keep water out of eyes and ear

Animals hate getting water in their eyes and ears so it is important to avoid these areas when bathing your pet.  Getting water in their ears is a sure way of making them shake water all over you!

7.    Use a non slip matt when shampooing

If you are bathing your pet in the bath or shower, use a non slip matt.  Dogs especially hate slipping around in the bath or shower tray and this may contribute to their fear of being washed if they slip.

8.    Use a massage brush for cats

Long haired cats often resent being groomed.  This is normally because it hurts if they have matts in their long hair, especially under the tail.  Using a zoom groom brush can really help to calm your pet and make them love being groomed so that you can tackle their matted fur.  Daily grooming should then be possible to prevent matts from building up in the first place. 

9.    Ask your vet or groomer to help

If you have a pet who, no matter what you do, will not let you brush them, then you may need to ask your vet or groomer for help.  Cats or dogs with very matted fur may need sedating to clip off painful matts. Once the matts have gone then building up daily brushing in a positive fashion is a good idea to prevent matts from recurring.


10.    Make sure you dry your pet after shampooing

Pets will get cold quickly if they are not dried after shampooing, especially if they are small, old or have a thin coat.  Using a hair dryer is great if your pet will tolerate it.  Introduce hair dryers gradually and use lots of treats to get your pet used to it. Always use the warm setting so that you do not burn your pet.