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Proper grooming is an important part of pet care. It not only makes a companion animal look better, but contributes to his or her physiological and psychological health.


Brush your pet thoroughly every day. This helps keep his or her hair in good condition by removing dirt, spreading the natural oils throughout the coat, preventing tangles from forming and keeping the skin clean and free from irritation.

It is best to start brushing your pet at an early age, but do not despair if he or she is an older animal. It is possible to train one to enjoy grooming. Proceed slowly, and be sure to use treats and plenty of praise to make the experience fun!

For some people, grooming your dog is a nightmare. Here are some suggestions to prevent this.

Use a soft bristle human brush.
Spread peanut butter, margarine or chicken broth on a section of clean flooring.
Bring your dog in on a short leash.
As she's standing and licking, brush softly If your dog gets agitated tug the leash downward and say ''shhh'' without staring at her or getting too tense.

Eventually work towards using the brush of your choice. Talk to a groomer to see which is best for your dog.


Trim your pet's nails about once per month. You'll need a clipper designed specifically for the kind of companion animal you have. Either a scissor- or guillotine-style clipper can be used. You should also purchase a small bottle of blood-clotting powder.

How to Cut Your Pet's Nails

Have your companion animal sit beside you. Then place one of his or her paws in your hand and gently pull it forward. If your pet dislikes being handled this way, slowly accustom him or her to it by offering treats and praise.
Gradually shorten one nail. Be sure to stop before you reach the quick, which is the part of the nail that contains nerves and blood vessels. If you cannot see the quick clearly, stop cutting just behind the point at which the nail begins to curve downward.
If you cut into the quick, do not panic. Put some clotting powder on a moist cotton swab and press it firmly against the nail for several seconds.
Repeat the process until all of your companion animal's nails have been trimmed.
Do not forget to trim the dewclaw, which is located on the inside of each front leg just above the paw. (Some dogs do not have dewclaws.) Ears

Ear care is an important part of grooming. Ear infections cannot only be painful, but lead to permanent hearing loss. The signs of a problem with a companion animal's ears include redness, constant scratching, head shaking and odor.

How to Clean Your Pet's Ears

Check your companion animal's ears twice per month. The skin inside and on the flaps should be pale pink. If there is a foul odor and/or any red, brown or black skin, have a veterinarian examine your pet's ears.
Moisten a cotton ball with warm water or a little mineral oil and use it to clean the opening into the canal and the flaps. Do not probe too deeply into the canal. Teeth

Companion animals can get cavities and develop periodontal disease, so their teeth should be cleaned with a pet toothpaste at least twice per week. It is best to use a small toothbrush that has soft bristles. Cleanings performed by a veterinarian may also be required.


Bathe your companion animal once every two months or as often as needed. Be sure to brush him or her before each bath in order to get all of the mats out of his or her coat.

Just about any gentle, tearless dog shampoo will do unless your dog has fleas or a skin condition. If your dog has either, use a shampoo made for the specific problem, or one recommended by your vet. When using a regular dog shampoo, it's usually best to dilute it. (Don't dilute flea shampoo or medicated shampoo because you'd also be diluting the active ingredients!) Most dog shampoos are way too thick which makes it difficult to work up a good lather. I usually dilute it with 25% to 50% water. You can pour some shampoo into an empty bottle and add small amounts of water until it reaches the right consistency. Some people use 'people' shampoo, and I've even heard of some who use dishwashing liquid. Both are much too harsh for your dog's skin and can cause skin and coat problems in the future. In the long-run, it's cheaper to buy a good dog shampoo and dilute it as described above.

How To Bathe Your Pet

Place a rubber mat in your bathtub, or a towel in your sink, for secure footing. Then place a cotton ball in each of your companion animal's ears to prevent water from entering.
Rinse your pet with warm water. Use a spray hose if one is available, but be sure to keep the nozzle very close to your companion animal's body. Never spray him or her in the face.
Apply a shampoo designed especially for pets in small amounts, working from the head to the tail. Be sure to clean the rectum, between the toes, behind the ears and under the chin. Try to avoid getting shampoo in your companion animal's eyes.
Thoroughly rinse your pet with warm water.
Dry your companion animal with a towel and/or hair dryer.

Sarah Hodgeson, "Choosing, Training and Raising a Dog", Alpha Books, 1996
Information provided by Pets911 at
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Copyright America Against BSL 2007
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