little dogs and bath in front of white background

Brushing your pet regularly helps spread their natural oils on the skin, gets rid of dirt, loose dead hair and prevents matting plus it makes them feel good. The skin is the largest organ in a dog or cat’s body so it’s important to keep it clean and healthy. A dull, dry coat usually suggests a problem such as internal parasites or worms, thyroid problems, lack of certain vitamins or minerals and or improper diet.

Never use human shampoos on your pets because they have a different ph and are too harsh for dog and cat skin, which is thinner and more sensitive than human skin. How often to bathe your dog or cat depends on their lifestyle.  When your dog or cat isn’t huggable anymore or looks and or smells dirty it’s time for a bath. The right shampoo is important and depends on the hair coat so if you are unsure ask your vet. To make bath time more enjoyable put a mat in the bathtub and give lots of praise and treats so your dog or cat learns to enjoy this ongoing ritual. Never use hot water to bath your dog because it can cause the blood vessels to dilate (vasodilatation) leading to itchy skin.  The bath water should be cool or lukewarm for both dogs and cats.

Keep toenails short.  Dogs with overgrown nails are akin to a woman in stiletto heels.  Walking is difficult with resulting bone and joint problems.  Also, the nails grow so long they curl embedding into the pad or skin. Nail trims need to be done regularly depending on your pet’s activity and how fast the nails grow. Start trimming your pet’s nails when their puppies or kittens so they get used to this regular grooming procedure.

Cats and dogs muzzles and nose are genetically determined and can be used for identification similar to fingerprints in humans.

Hair is predominately made of protein and no new hair follicles develop after birth in dogs and cats. Nutrition, temperature, hormones, state of health, and genetics control hair growth in dogs and cats. The best way to brush your pet is systematically, the same way every time so your pet learns what to expect and gets used to the routine.  Try starting at the hindquarters and work your way towards the head. Never brush your pet’s skin as this can cause discomfort and irritation just brush the entire coat down to the skin. One of the best ways to find a groomer is to ask your vet.  Most vets have relationships with groomers that they trust and recommend. Always brush your dog or cat before and after bathing.  Tangles become tighter and more difficult to remove once they get wet. For pets with knots and mats try spraying on a coat conditioner or applying cornstarch first before brushing, which helps loosen the tangles in long coats.

One of the best ways to treat excessive shedding is to brush daily and make sure your pet is eating a nutritionally balanced diet. Daily fatty acid supplementation may help dogs and cats with dry itchy skin and excessive shedding.

Not only can dogs and cats get sunburn but they can get skin cancer too.  White and shorthaired pets are most susceptible. You can use waterproof SPF 30 sunblock mixed with Vaseline 50/50 to put on the bridge of nose and ears to help prevent sunburn. There are spandex body suits you can buy or you can just put on a plain t-shirt to help protect from the sunlight reflecting up from the sidewalk, which will cause sunburn on dogs with little hair on their tummy. Dogs and cats are prone to overheating because they have limited sweat glands on their feet and lose heat primarily through panting.

Flat faced dogs like pugs, bulldogs, and Boston terriers have a harder time panting so they are more predisposed to overheating as are older dogs, puppies, and kittens. Every year dogs end up burning their pads on the hot pavement.  Test the sidewalk with the palm of your hand and if it’s too hot to touch it’s too hot for your pet to walk on.

The best way to get rid of skunk smell is one quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide with ¼ cup of baking soda and 1 tsp of liquid soap.  Mix and while the mixture is still fizzing apply to pet then rinse well.

The best way to fight fleas is to prevent them in the first place with a topical flea product from your vet.
Small dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens can die from flea anemia where they have a decreased amount of red blood cells from too many fleas sucking their blood. If the water turns red when bathing your pet this is from flea poop, which looks like black pepper but is actually digested blood or flea feces.

Never use q-tips to clean out your pet’s ears because they can break off and or puncture the eardrum. Always clean ears with an ear cleaning solution made for dogs and cats.  Don’t use water, peroxide or baby oil.

Dogs have a very long l-shaped ear canal and to clean properly you must fill up the canal with ear cleansing solution, massage base of the ear and let the dog shake their head.  Wipe out any discharge with cotton balls.

You should be brushing your pet’s teeth every other day to help avoid dangerous dental disease, which will shorten a pet’s lifespan.

Excessive tearing can be from a blocked tear duct.  Cats and dogs have a duct, which runs from their eye to the back of the throat allowing tears to be swallowed instead of running out the eye.

All dogs and cats have anal glands, which are small pouches on either side of the anus and are emptied when your pet has a bowel movement.  The glands have a foul-smelling secretion that is used to scent the stool or for territory making.

Scooting, running in circles, licking at their hind end are all signs of an impacted anal gland that can be very painful and necessitates a trip to the vet.

Itching in dogs and cats can be from a food allergy, inhalant allergies, mites, skin infection, or malnutrition. When your dog gets groomed ask your groomer to pluck any hair out of the ear canal, which can predispose a dog to get an ear infection.

Cats can receive baths when they are dirty, have external parasites or have a skin problem. The easiest way to bathe a cat is to fill the sink up with lukewarm water and hold your cat by the scruff of their neck then lower them in the water.  Have towels and shampoo ready because once your cat is on to you it can be much more difficult.

It’s best to trim your cat’s nails prior to giving them a bath and be sure to use nail clippers made for cats nails.