Mon | Dec 5, 2016

How to groom your best friend

Published:Monday | September 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Jody-Anne Lawrence, Staff Reporter

Our pets are our best friends. We nurture them and they reward us by giving us all the love in the world. But sometimes grooming them is a task that many of us cannot handle. Trying to wing it on your own can now be a thing of the past, since a little knowledge will go a long way in making the process of grooming simple.

Flair solicited the expertise of veterinarian Stacey-Ann Jackson for a few grooming tips on the different pets we have as part of our families.

DOGS

Grooming a dog is dependent on many factors. First, the kind of dog based on hair and texture determines whether it will be high maintenance or not.

An outdoor dog will be easier to brush and bathe, but might need to be bathed more frequently than a house dog, dependent on how their outdoor environment is. In this unpredictable weather, you might need to bathe an outdoor dog every week versus a house dog that can be done every other week.

Indoor dogs with a lot of hair like shih tzu and poodles will take a little more work.

Here are a few tips:

1. Brush before bathing to reduce tangles and matting.

2. Bathe dog with an age appropriate shampoo. This also applies to outdoor dogs. Please, DO NOT use dishwashing liquid as it might dry the dog's skin, which might lead to skin allergies. Use the appropriate shampoo and follow the instructions as specified on the bottle.

3. You will be required to brush again to avoid tangling.

4. Drying your dog can be done in one of two ways - blow drying or towel drying. If you must blow dry, please do not do so on the hot setting - this may damage the skin. Always blow dry your dog's hair on cool. If you are going to towel dry your dog and leave him/her outside to finish drying, DO NOT leave him/her in the sun. Like humans, they can get heat stroke and it is a cruel act.

The recommended types of brush for these dogs are ones with the teeth closer together. If you do not think that you can do a good job, take your best friend to the groomers, because pulling and tugging their hair will only hurt both of you.

CATS

Cats are easier to groom because they mostly groom themselves. Bathing cats is not usually something that you have to do frequently or any at all, unless they got themselves in trouble - like playing in the mud and your make-up. These cute pets with a personality that can change in a minute are very low maintenance.

One thing Jackson recommends is brushing frequently.

You can brush cats every other day or daily. This will help prevent hair balls by removing the shedding hair. Jackson made sure to emphasise that the younger the pet when you start these grooming practises, the better it is because the pets will get used to it and become more cooperative as they get older.

The one task that you may have to worry about is nail clipping.

Nail Clipping

Clipping cats and dogs' nails is similar and straightforward:

1. Get the correct nail clips. Please avoid using nail clips that you use for your finger and toenails. Use nail clips that are for animals. They are better equipped to take care of this job swiftly.

2. Look for the quick of the nails before clipping because if you cut the quick it will bleed and though the dog will not suffer any life-threatening repercussions, it is painful. You want to help, not harm your beloved.

3. Do not try to cut the nails in chunks or the entire nail off at once. Clip them piece by piece until they are at the appropriate length.

4. Use an emery board to smooth out the edges.

If you are not confident about cutting your pet's nails, go to a vet or groomer who is better equipped to do so.

Animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs and birds are also low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Rabbits might have to get their teeth clipped if you do not give them the appropriate food or chew toy - like a coconut husk that will keep the teeth at a safe length. However, there is more that comes with taking care of animals.

Though Jackson did not state specific animals that we should not have, she believes that before anyone gets a pet they should do the research. She made it clear that animals might be cuddly and cute when they are small, but if you do not make the right preparations, any animal, even the smallest, like a hamster, can be a handful. So read up and be sure that you are up to the responsibility.