In this week’s RTE Today Show Pet Clinic, we discussed pets’ grooming needs as we head into the summer months. You can watch the video above, and read information about grooming below. Many thanks to Martha from GoreyBrayVet Grooming for providing the before and after images used during the clip and shown below.
The right choice of grooming for every dog is an individual decision, based on many factors. There are two aims:
1) To keep dogs comfortable – this is the most important aspect of course, and dogs that are matted, with knotted hair, can be very uncomfortable – this can be a welfare issue.
2) To keep dogs looking good. This is cosmetic, and dogs don’t care what they look like, but owners often care a great deal.
A) Shedding breeds
The main difference between breeds is that most dogs are so called “shedding” breeds: i.e. their fur grows to a certain length, then it falls out. Examples include Labrador Retrievers, Dobermans, German Shepherds and Collies. In fact, most dogs fall into this category. Some have longer hair (e.g. Golden Retrievers), but they shed in a similar way.
All of these breeds shed fur. Some just do it twice a year in the spring and the autumn, but many pets shed continually, all year round. Living indoors, with the combination of artificial lighting and heating means that animals are no longer exposed to the seasonality of a life lived in nature. As a result, a low-grade, steady trickle of fur happens all year round.
Moulting can be minimised by ensuring that a dog has as healthy a coat as possible:.The addition of omega 3 and 6 oils to the diet can make a dramatic difference (e.g. 1 squirt daily of Coast Nutrient Mackerel Oil) , but you won’t see any change until your pet has been taking the supplements (as part of the diet, or as separate capsules) for at least six weeks.
Regular brushing is all that’s needed to keep the coat healthy: for longer haired dogs, particular attention needs to be applied to prevent matted fur in areas of the body with finer hair, such as behind the ears and under the tail.
B) Non-shedding or “low-shedding” breeds
Other breeds of dogs have a different pattern of hair growth: they are known as “low shedders”. This includes Bichon Frise, Poodles and Yorkshire Terriers: their fur just keeps growing, rather than growing to a certain length and falling out. The down side, of course, is that these breeds need to be groomed and clipped frequently to keep their long coats comfortable, and this can be an expensive extra cost of pet ownership.
A) Shorthaired cats
The most common type of cat – the Domestic Short Hair as the common moggie is known – rarely needs groomed at all. An occasional run over with a brush to keep the coat glossy is all that’s needed.
B) Long haired cats
Other cats have long coats. The cross-bred version is the Domestic Long Hair, as the cross-bred version is known, do need regular combing or brushing.
Long haired pedigree cats (such as Persians) fall into the same category.
A daily routine of a quick brush using the correct implements (such as a comb and a wire slicker brush) is a good idea.
Matted fur is common in long haired cats (cross-bred or pedigree), especially as they grow older.
Issues like dental disease and arthritis mean that geriatric cats aren’t as good at grooming themselves.
The best answer is to get long furred cats used to being brushed from an early age, and to do this regularly, so that large mats never develop.
When there are significant areas of matting, then the only answer is to ask your pet to sedate the cat, then to use electric clippers to take them off. This works effectively, but to be safe, it’s often necessary to do a pre-sedative work up, such as blood and urine tests and blood pressure measurement. These are common issues in older cats, and they should be done routinely in any case. But it does mean that a simple task like removing matted fur can become more complicated than you might expect with older pets.
Most pet rabbits are similar to short haired dogs or cats: grooming does not need to be part of their regular routine. Long haired rabbits, like long haired cats, do need regular brushing and combing to keep their fur tangle free.
For some rabbit breeds, like Angora rabbits, regular brushing is essential. Angoras are used for commercial wool production, and even pets should be groomed regularly to remove excessive fur. A combination of a fine wire slicker brush should be used to remove the fluff, with a wide toothed comb to help. People who show their pet Angoras seriously use a groomer’s blower (like an ultra-powerful hair drier) to make the fur as tangle free and fluffy as possible.
Washing your pet
There are three reasons to wash your pet: (we have a good Petfix article about it here.)
1. Rolling In Something Foul Or Toxic
First, if your pet rolls in something foul or toxic, the only way to remove the substance is often to carry out a full body wash. If you don’t wash your pet, they may make your home smell. Also, if you are unsure what your pet has rolled in, it is even more important that you wash them as there have been cases of pets who have been contaminated with oil (e.g. by falling into a basin containing diesel), and it’s critically important to wash them to remove the oil before it causes serious poisoning.
2. Skin Conditions
Second, some pets suffer from serious skin conditions (such as fungal or bacterial infections, allergies, or a number of rarer diseases). Regular shampooing (e.g. twice weekly) is often a critically important part of the management of the problem. If your pet fits into this category, ask your vet to advise you about the best way to proceed.
3. Routine Cleaning
Third, many people just want their pets to be clean, shiny, and sweet smelling, and a regular bath can be the best way to achieve this. This type of routine bathing should only be done around once a month, to avoid drying the coat too much by stripping out the natural oils.
I’ve listed a selection of products to help with grooming below: these are all available from www.petfixclub.com
Pet shampoo is different to human shampoo: different pH, scents, chemicals, so it is safer to use a product designed for the animal you are bathing.
Dogs and cats
- Tropiclean Aloe and Coconut Shampoo
- Furrish Pretty Pup Shampoo
- Sniffe and Likkit Fragrant Fur Coat Shampoo
- Sniffe and Likkit No Rinse Dry Powder Shower
Rabbits and guinea pigs
Drying dogs afterwards
2) Brushes and combs
- Slicker brush: very fine wire bristles to remove the undercoat. Second type here.
- Deshedding tool: a blade built in to the implement allows the coat to be thinned more effectively
- Fine toothed comb: good for looking for fleas but also for removing mild tangles
- Broad toothed comb: for an overall comb through the coat
- Undercoat rake: a broader comb
- Double-sided brush: for a glossy finish
3) Nail clippers