You are probably one of many pet owners who strictly rely on professionals when it comes to grooming your pets. During this pandemic, with grooming is considered a non-essential service, you are left to figure out how to maintain your pet’s grooming needs from home. You might even be one of the few pet owners that wanted to wait until it gets warmer outside to get your pets groomed. And then they dropped the bomb, and now, you’re screwed. But not to worry, this is where I come in. Here are some grooming tips that you can do at home to make sure that your pet is as comfortable as possible during this time.
First Things First: Tools!
Here’s what you’ll need:
& a good clipper and blades but this is a last resort, if this isn’t done properly you can injure your dog or cat pretty badly. But if you really want to muscle through cutting your pet’s coat it’s an option.
Note that I did not list scissors, STAY AWAY FROM SCISSORS! There isn’t enough control with scissors which is why they are the main cause of injuries with owners attempting to cut their pet’s coat.
What to do with the tools:
Funny enough, most pet owners already have these grooming tools at home, they just don’t know how to use them properly or don’t have the correct tool specific to their pet’s needs.
If your pet is the type that needs a haircut regularly it means that you should be brushing them at home thoroughly, every day, a few times a day. It’s a lot of work but it’s the best and only way to ensure that your pet is free of mats that can become painful.
Q: “At what length of hair should you start worrying that their hair will get matted?”
A: Anything longer than ¾ of an inch you should start brushing them daily. When you are brushing, use the slicker brush first and make sure you are brushing from the roots and not just the top. A major mistake owner’s make when brushing their dog or cat is that they only focus on the top and then the matts are left closer to the skin getting worse as time goes on. Eventually, you will be able to go to the groomer again, the length of how long your groomer can keep their coat is based on the space between the matt and the skin.
TIP: You can check if you successfully brushed out your pet by using the second tool in your arsenal, the steel comb. The steel comb should easily brush through their coat from the roots to the ends. If that steel comb stops, it means that the matt is still there, and you will need to use the slicker brush again to work on getting the matt out. Repeat the process until the metal comb runs smoothly.
TIP: When you are brushing your pet, it is not about how hard you brush to get the matt out, patience is key. Go slow. Work on one spot at a time. Be gentle. The main reason your pet hates being brushed is because you probably went at it too harsh and now, they associate it with a negative experience.
TIP: Treats help! I highly recommend incorporating positive reinforcement in all your pet’s grooming needs.
Trimming your pet’s nails can be scary. When I first started my grooming apprenticeship, my heart would jump out of my chest every time I would do a nail trim. My best suggestion for owners wanting to trim their pet’s nails is to get a good nail filer, human grade works perfectly. I personally don’t recommend owners using nail grinders, only professionals should use those. A nail filer allows you to shorten the nail without the risk of cutting into their quicks, which is just a fancy word for their nerves. You can file them down slowly using a nail filer. Don’t forget about their dew claws! The dew claws are not naturally filed when you walk your dog, so the dew claw will keep growing and when left unattended will start growing into their pads and that is extremely painful.
TIP: If you are comfortable enough to use a nail trimmer, make sure to cut little amounts at a time. Make sure that you are using a sharp nail trimmer, dull nail trimmers will cause your pets nails to crack and sometimes expose the quick.
TIP: If you manage to cut into the quick and your pet is bleeding from their nail, don’t worry, it happens. Use cornstarch or flour and put it on the nail that is bleeding, it should help control the bleeding. Don’t worry if they lick it, it is safe for them.
Clipping Your Dog’s Coat
I say dog specifically because I do not recommend trying to clip your cat’s coat. Cat’s skin is paper-thin which means it is more likely that you will cause injury to your cat if you try to clip or scissor their coat. Don’t. Do. It. Brush your cat, trim their nails and that is it.
Your dog is probably already overdue for a groom from before the pandemic and now non-essential business are shut down which includes pet groomers. Your dog probably won’t be able to wait much longer for your groomer to be allowed to operate and you will need to pick up a clipper and do it yourself.
You will need a good clipper. This will be an investment; unfortunately good clippers are not cheap and trust me when I say you will need to get a good one. Cheap clippers are more likely to seriously injure your dog.
You will also need a couple of blades to go with the clipper. Most clippers will come with one blade (#10). This specific blade is very short and usually used for shaving their groin and butt area. This is not ideal for using all over their body as it can cause clipper burn, it gets hot very quickly. I recommend getting a 4f or 5f blade. This is roughly about ¼ of an inch or shorter. This is the safest blade in my opinion to use for home grooming.
When clipping your dog’s coat, your goal is not to make them look good. Your goal is to shorten their coat to help them with the warmer weather to come and also to get rid of or avoid excessive matting. Using a clipper on your dog’s coat means that you will have to go short. Going short is the safest way to achieve your goal.
Places you need to be careful: The armpit, groin, butt, and neck area. In these areas the skin is thinner and the chances of the skin getting caught with the clippers are high, causing injuries.
TIP: When you start clipping, follow the direction the hair grows naturally. Do not go against the grain.
TIP: To safely perform cutting your dog’s coat, you will need to constantly check the temperature of the blade. This can be done by putting the blade against your forearm, if it is too hot for you then it is too hot for your dog. Let your blade cool down before continuing to groom or invest in another blade replacement so you can use them interchangeably.
TIP: You will need to be patient with your dog and allow for many breaks, this can be a lot to handle for your dog.
TIP: Do not pull or yank the clipper if it’s not going through smoothly, this just means that you need a shorter blade in that area. You can either try brushing that area or leave it alone.
TIP: If your dog is cooperating, don’t forget to reward them.
I know some pets really hate being groomed but remember, now isn’t the time to feel bad, they will need it during this time. Your pets will need you now more than ever. Leaving their un-managed coat alone will only make things worse. We are living in an unprecedented time and we won’t know how long we will have to live with strict social distancing measures. Start taking care of your dog’s coat today. Remember we are all in this together, feel free to ask me questions, I am here for you.