Reviewed for accuracy on March 19, 2019, by Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM
The arrival of warmer weather means that your pet’s coat may start shedding like crazy to compensate for the rising temperatures. To help handle the sudden influx of stray pet fur, it is important to have the right supplies in your cat or dog grooming kit.
“The skin and hair coat is the biggest organ in the body. It’s an external reflection of your pet’s internal health,” explains Dr. Carol Osborne, an integrative veterinarian at Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
She explains that not only does pet grooming help to manage shedding, but it also helps pet parents to monitor the health of their pet’s skin and coat.
With pet grooming, you get an up close and personal look at your pet’s skin and hair. You can help detangle mats and knots in their coat, while also checking for lumps, bumps, scratches, or even fleas and ticks. If you notice an issue, you should seek out veterinary care.
Here’s what you need to know about pet grooming and prepping your cat or dog grooming kit for the spring months.
Learn About Your Pet’s Unique Grooming Needs
When it comes to grooming pets, education is the best place to start. “My favorite tool would be pet owner education,” says Dr. Osborne. “How often a pet needs to be bathed and groomed depends on breed [and] hair length as well as the dog’s lifestyle.” For instance, Pekingese and Collies will need to be brushed every day.
If you’re unsure about your pet’s grooming needs, ask your vet or groomer. Dr. Osborne suggests watching a grooming video created by a professional, reading a book about pet grooming or taking a lesson with a professional.
Dog Grooming Essentials
“[Often] pets have gone through winter without grooming because of the cold. A lot of times they’ll have extra coat,” says Linda Easton, President of the International Professional Groomers and an international certified master groomer. She explains that when spring comes, a pet owner’s first task is getting the excess undercoat out.
Here are the pet grooming supplies you need in your dog grooming kit for the spring.
When it comes to deciding which dog brush is right for your pet, it comes down to the length of their coat.
To remove your pet’s undercoat, Easton advises using a rubber dog brush like the KONG Dog ZoomGroom multi-use brush on a short-haired dog. You could also use the Oster Equine care fine curry horse comb on larger dogs like Labrador Retrievers. The rubber will remove the undercoat without scraping the skin of a short-haired animal.
The metal pin brushes, like the Safari wire pin brush for dogs, and slicker brushes, like the Safari soft slicker brush for dogs or the FURminator soft slicker brush for dogs, are okay to use with dogs who have longer hair.
To start removing the undercoat, you’ll want to gather a small section of your dog’s hair and brush in the direction of the coat, says Easton. Gently pull a section of the hair, separate it and brush above your hand towards the tips of the hair. Be careful not to brush the skin, as you may irritate it.
You should be brushing your dog once a week, but these times can vary depending on the length or type of coat your pet has. So talk with your groomer or veterinarian to decide the best pet grooming routine for your dog.
“If you’re having trouble getting knots out, it’s a good indicator that you need to get some professional help,” says Easton.
Don’t reach for your own shampoo when you go to give your pet a bath—products that are made for people can irritate your pet’s skin.
“Dogs and people have different skin pH [levels],” Dr. Osborne explains. “Using proper products to bathe your animal is important.” Dr. Osborne explains that using human shampoo is a big mistake that some pet parents make.
When it comes to choosing the right dog shampoo for your pup, Dr. Osborne advises against using a shampoo to treat a specific condition (unless a vet told you to), as that can cause more harm than good.
Easton advises spending more money for a high-quality dog shampoo that has fewer detergents and is sulfate-free.
Pet-specific products, like Earthbath oatmeal and aloe fragrance free dog and cat shampoo, are safe options to include in your pet grooming kit.
Most dogs should be bathed a minimum of every 30 days. That’s about how long it takes for a new layer of skin cells to regenerate, says Easton.
Easton explains that you’ll want to shampoo your dog twice during each grooming session. The first time you shampoo your dog, you’re getting the majority of the dirt out. The second time, you’re getting the dog’s fur clean.
Dog Nail Clippers
Keeping your dog’s nails clipped in the spring is important.
“In the spring, dog's nails may seem to grow longer because the ground has been softened by winter rain and their nails don't wear down as much,” says Easton.
It is a good idea to have someone help you hold the dog so that you can focus on their nails. Be careful not to lift the leg too high or out to the side, as that can be uncomfortable for the dog.
If you do use dog nail clippers, ensure that the blade is made with high-quality stainless steel that will not lose its sharpness. Nails should be trimmed to ground level when the dog is standing. You should clip dog nails to around a quarter inch from the “quick” or base of the nail.
Cat Grooming Essentials
For the most part, cats tend to keep themselves pretty clean. But you can and should groom your cat if he needs it. Spring coats can be long after a long, cold winter, and grooming a cat can help remove excess fur.
Easton explains that cats don’t brush out well. You’ll want to opt for a rubber brush as opposed to a metal one to prevent scraping.
Easton says when it comes to de-shedding your cat, it’s best to avoid de-shedding tools because it’s too easy to scrape your pet’s skin. You’ll also want to avoid cutting out mats or knot (gently brush them out instead), as cats have delicate skin and it’s easy to accidentally cut them. A rubber brush, like the KONG Cat ZoomGroom multi-use brush, are easy on your cat’s fur and skin.
Yes, you can bathe cats. Monthly baths for cats can help to remove dander and reduce shedding. For long-haired cats, monthly bathing can also help to prevent matting. However, bathes can be given on an “as-needed” basis, depending on how much of a mess your kitty likes to make.
First, start with a safe cat shampoo. This is important because cat skin is more “absorbent” than dog skin, and this makes them susceptible to chemical toxins, says Easton.
Always use a cat shampoo labeled specifically for cats, not one that is made for dogs or humans. To find a high-quality product, Easton recommends spending more for a cat shampoo with fewer detergents that’s sulfate-free and promises easy rinsing.
Bathing a long-haired cat frequently can help with shedding. Easton explains how to bathe a cat:
First, dilute the cat shampoo with water and place the mixture in a pitcher. Put the cat in a kitchen sink or tub. Hold the cats’ shoulders and pour the soapy water over the shoulders, not the face. Then rinse your cat with clean water.
Cat Nail Clippers
It’s a good idea to trim your cat’s nails, too. Easton explains that indoor and elderly cats that don’t venture outside have no natural way of shortening their nails. Outdoor cats would climb and scratch trees to help keep nails short, and you can substitute a cat tree to help encourage this natural instinct.
But because this might not be enough to keep your cat’s nails trim, you should use small, scissor-style clippers like the JW Pet Gripsoft nail clipper, suggests Easton. Do not use a regular pair of scissors, as they will not have a cutout in the blade to accommodate cat nails.
If you cut the nail too short, and it starts to bleed, you should have a styptic powder on hand, like Remedy+Recovery styptic powder. Baking flour will also work if you don’t have styptic powder.
By: Teresa K. Traverse
Featured Image: iStock.com/O-Lypa