Grooming is part of owning a pet, and the amount of grooming required for your pet is relative to breed, age, and time of year. This year, many of you likely had to try grooming your pet on your own with COVID shutting many groomers down for a few weeks or months.
Grooming your pets is important as it keeps their coats knot and mat-free. All medium- to long-haired dogs and cats are prone to matting. Mats are long, tightly wound knots that are nearly impossible to detangle and they pull on the skin. If allowed to stay in the pet’s coat, they can cause skins sores due to the pulling and itching in addition to harboring bacteria. Regular grooming will help you monitor mats and catch them before they get too big. Generally, the best thing to do when you find a small mat in your pet’s coat is to grab some sharp scissors and cut it out. Most long-haired pets have sufficient coat to spare, and you won’t notice if a little is missing, and if you do it won’t last for very long.
It’s important to cut mats out as close to the skin as possible to ensure you get it all out. If you have a case where there are multiple large mats in your pet’s coat that are close together, it’s best to take your pet to a professional groomer or vet for removal, as that could get a bit difficult for you to handle on your own. Additionally, your pet needs to be very comfortable with being handled if you are going to cut a mat out. Don’t be afraid to have an extra set of hands to help you, as the last thing you want to do is cut your pets skin and cause a bad association.
Not only does grooming help control mats and knots, but it is very important for coat health! All pets shed dead hair and skin all year round, just like people. By routinely brushing your pet, you help remove the dead hair before it builds up, allowing the coat to be primarily comprised of shiny, healthy hair. This keeps the coat lighter for your pet, which is especially important for temperature regulation, and it helps you remove any debris that may have built up in the coat that you may not be able to see. For example, a few months ago we left our Australian Shepherd Marty with my parents while we went on vacation for a week. As soon as we got back, I groomed him and found a burr in his armpit that was so wrapped in fur I never would have seen it and it had to be cut out. This could have resulted in some serious skin irritation and matting had I not found it through grooming him.
Another bonus of regular grooming us decreasing the amount of hair you end up sweeping off your furniture or floor! By removing the hair in a controlled fashion, you are able to put it outside or in the trash rather than having to vacuum it up as it falls off your pet.
Finally, grooming is a great opportunity for you to bond with your pet. Grooming should always involve a lot of treats, calming words, and soothing movements, so your pet associates you and their grooming tools as positive things. It is also a great opportunity to get up close and personal with your pet and check for any unusual lumps, ticks, or check their body condition score. It can be difficult to see or find ticks or other injuries in medium- to long- haired pets, and hands on grooming gives you a great opportunity to make sure your pet is healthy and happy.
If you need some help picking out grooming supplies, stop by one of our stores and a staff member can get you pointed in the right direction!