In preparation for more outdoor playtime with pets this spring and summer, Petco’s National Grooming Operations Specialist, Wendy Weinand, shares easy tips for pet parents on DIY dog grooming and at-home bathing between visits to the professional grooming salon with ReigningCatsandDogsBlog.com.
Proper tools: Before getting started, make sure all the correct tools are on hand. Pet parents should have dog shampoo, a towel, conditioner, a brush and treats. “I would use a shedless shampoo like Espree Naturals Simple Shed Shampoo for Dogs & Cats or Simple Shed Treatment for Dogs & Cats,” recommends Weinand. The natural oat protein and aloe shampoo is specially formulated to release loose hair and undercoat while it cleans and conditions.
Preliminary Brushing: The first step is to brush the dog to loosen and remove the undercoat that many dogs begin to shed in spring. Before brushing a dog for the first time, let them sniff the brush to get used to it. Be sure to give lots of treats during the process so dogs equate it with a positive experience. “For dogs with a heavy winter coat, I recommend using a Furminator Deshedding Tool to help remove the undercoat,” says Weinand. Dogs with shorter coats may do better with a simple slicker brush or rubber curry brush. “Petco store partners can also help you choose the appropriate brush for your pet,” says Weinand.
Bath Time: “Bath time should not be a family activity, as children may excite the pet,” says Weinand. “The person who bathes the pet should be the alpha in the house.” Always test the water before letting the pet in the bath. Much like a human baby, the water should be lukewarm, but not too hot to touch. Weinand suggests beginning at the back end of the dog and working towards the head. “Starting with the head can startle a dog,” she says. “Work your hands in a back and forth motion, creating a lather,” says Weinand. Rinse the dog thoroughly to remove all soap. When wiping down the dog’s skin, it should feel slick and make a slipping noise, which indicates it is soap free.
Drying: Use a towel to dry off the pet until most of the moisture has been removed. Don’t forget the head. “When the dog is mostly dry you can use a hair dryer for the rest,” says Weinand. “Always use the dryer on the warm or cool setting, never hot. Since some dogs may be scared of the noise, be sure to use lots of treats and positive reinforcement.” Again, begin at the back of the dog and work forward so the dog acclimates to the noise. It’s also helpful to spray on an aloe hydrating mist during the drying process to hydrate and moisturize the skin and coat.
Final Brushing: After the pet is dry, use a brush, rubber curry brush or Furminator to brush through the coat one last time to remove any excess hair and add shine. Remember, although DIY dog baths are great for a quick fix, it is important to take dogs to a professional groomer. In addition to caring for their skin and coat, Petco groomers conduct a seven point check-in that also includes the teeth, ears and eyes which can alert pet parents to any potential health issues they may not have noticed.
Nails: Nails should always be included in a pet’s normal grooming routine. Nails that are too long can damage a pet’s pads, as well as break and cause the pet serious pain, so maintenance is important. “For smaller dogs and cats, you can use human nail clippers, but for larger dogs I recommend dog-specific nail clippers,” says Weinand. However, nail clipping may cause anxiety in some dogs, so do not push them further than what they can handle. “It is okay if you can only clip one or two nails at a time,” says Weinand. “And don’t forget the treats. Making nail trimming a positive experience will help pets become accustomed to the process.” Simply cut the very tip of the nail avoiding the kwik. The kwik is the living part of a dog’s nail that contains blood vessels and nerves that will bleed if cut. “If you do trim a bit too low, use a product like Kwik Stop to quickly stop the bleeding,” recommends Weinand. “Ask a veterinarian for tips on how to trim a pet’s nails to ensure you are doing it properly.” For pets that aren’t comfortable with the process or pet parents who are a bit too nervous to do this themselves, Petco’s professional groomers are happy to provide this service.
What about other pets? Although cats and small animals may not need a trip to the groomer, they do need proper care at home. Cats will lick themselves in order to keep clean, but shedding can still be an issue with long and short-haired cats. “Brushing cats regularly with a Furminator Deshedding Tool or other brush can help release their excess coat and cut down on hair balls,” says Weinand. While regularly changing small animal bedding will help keep most critters clean, animals like chinchillas need weekly dust baths and birds need to have a shallow dish of water to bathe or need to be spritzed with water. Birds and some small animals need their nails trimmed as well. Veterinarians can teach pet parents how to trim nails during routine health exams.
For those who would like more information, Petco will be hosting free Skin and Coat Seminars on April 26 & 27, 2014. For more information call your local Petco store or visit www.petco.com/grooming.