When it comes to our furry best friends, we’ll do anything to ensure their optimal health and wellness. We take them for the wellness checkups at the vet, we feed them, we take them on walks, and we play with them. All of these things help them stay healthy, active, and happy. But another essential aspect of their health and wellness routine is their hygiene. 


Why Is Grooming So Important for Pets?

Grooming your dogs and cats is more about maintaining their physical health rather than simply their appearance. Think about how much better you feel after a shower or after you’ve had that long-awaited haircut, or even when you’ve had a manicure or a pedicure. Your skin feels better, your hair feels softer, and your nails are less jagged. To put it simply, our furballs feel just as good when they are regularly bathed and groomed. Supporting their proper hygiene is crucial for not only helping them look, but also feel their best.

Whether you prefer to groom your pet yourself, or you would rather have a professional groomer take care of their major grooming needs, it is important to make routine grooming a part of their health and wellness regimen. What’s more, as a pet parent, you should be making proper hygiene a priority in your pet’s daily and weekly wellness rituals. Even if you take your pet to the groomer, it’s important to brush them regularly, brush their teeth, check their coat, and ensure they’re getting the proper diet and exercise to support their health and hygiene. Doing so can help prevent a wide range of health issues that could be looming under the surface. Let’s explore some of the reasons to regularly groom your dogs and cats while supporting their hygiene.

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Reasons to Regularly Groom Your Pets

  • Grooming rituals help familiarize your pet with touch and can enhance your bond and improve socialization behaviors.
  • Regularly bathing and brushing your pet can help control shedding.
  • Checking your pet’s skin, coat, eyes, ears, and teeth can help prevent medical issues and help you avoid major medical bills.
  • Grooming and proper hygiene support your pet’s dental health, which strengthens their overall health and well-being.
  • Routine grooming improves your pet’s appearance while helping them feel better and more comfortable.  

Key Pet Grooming and Hygiene Hints to Keep In Mind:

    • Understand your pet’s unique grooming needs according to their breed, size, and any health issues they may have.
    • Feed them a healthy, nutrient-rich diet that supports healthy skin, coat, and teeth.
    • Familiarize your pet with grooming to make it a less-stressful experience for the both of you.
    • Recognize the importance of regular exercise and how it can benefit their whole-body health and wellness.
    • Support their dental health and hygiene.
    • Don’t forget to pamper those paws. 
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Let’s explore some of the questions our Eagle Animal Hospital veterinarians frequently hear from pet parents just like you about pet grooming practices and maintaining pet hygiene.

Q: What Grooming Supplies Do I Need?

It’s a good idea to have the grooming essentials on-hand, which you can determine based on whether you have a dog or a cat, their breed, their hair and skin type, while also taking into account any sensitivities they have to certain ingredients, allergies, and/or health concerns. Here are the basic grooming supplies and tools you’ll need for general grooming purposes:

      • Brushes (double-sided are often best)
      • Wide, narrow-toothed de-matting combs (for detangling and separating mats)
      • Pet shampoo (formulated specifically for your type of pet)
      • Waterless shampoo (for quick and easy maintenance)
      • Rubber curry brush (to use while bathing your dog)
      • Toothbrush and toothpaste (made for dogs or cats)
      • Silicone paw cleaner (for quickly and easily cleaning excess dirt and mud)
      • Deshedding tool (to remove undercoat and loose hair)
      • Leave-on pet conditioner spray (to keep their coat healthy and their skin nourished)
      • Old clean towels

Q: What Are the Grooming Basics I Should Know?

There are a few grooming basics to keep in mind to ensure your furry best friends get the most out of their grooming session.


Brushing

Brushing their coat eliminates matting and prevents excessive shedding, while also protecting your pet from:

      • Pain and discomfort
      • Skin irritation
      • Wound infection
      • Fleas and ticks, hidden in the matted hair
      • Blood and circulation restriction
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Dental Care

Brushing your pet’s teeth is of the utmost importance to their oral and general health. In fact, supporting your pet’s dental health can lengthen your pet’s life by 2-4 years. In addition to their at-home dental care, annual pet dental checks and treatments with your veterinarian are essential. Here are some of the benefits of brushing their teeth at least once a week: 

      • Reduces tartar and plaque buildup
      • Removes particles from between their teeth
      • Freshens their breath
      • Reduces gum inflammation
      • Reduces tooth loss
      • Helps you spot broken or missing teeth
      • Helps you assess their overall dental health
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Bathing

Your pet needs to be bathed at least once a month to maintain a healthy, shiny coat and nourished skin. If you aren’t set up to do this at home, we recommend taking your pet to a self-dog wash, or to a local groomer.

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Nail Trims

Trimming their nails helps maintain the health of their feet and supports their foot structure. While this is often a tricky endeavor to perform at home, our veterinary team is happy to help by trimming their nails for you. Just ask us during your pet’s appointment, or call us to bring your pet in.

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Ear Care

Your pet’s ears can become caked with oils, dirt, and other debris, and can even become breeding grounds for pet-loving pests like mites. Gently wiping your pet’s ears with a cotton swab (not a Q-tip, which can damage their internal ear structure) and warm water or a gentle, pet-friendly ear cleaning solution can help keep your pet’s ears healthy while preventing infections. 

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Q: How Can I Make the Grooming Experience a Positive One?

Grooming your pet at home can be quite the undertaking. The key is to make sure both you and your pet are comfortable to not only make the experience safe, but also a positive one. Here are some tips for making the grooming experience positive for you both:

      • Start small to familiarize your pet with the grooming process (start by brushing them or simply cleaning their paws, for instance).
      • Never use cold or hot water when bathing them: rather, opt instead for a lukewarm temperature to help calm them.
      • Try spritzing some calming essential oils like lavender in your workspace to help soothe and relax your pet.
      • Set up a safe grooming area to prevent slipping.
      • Have all of your supplies ready and easily accessible.
      • Keep small treats on hand to reward good behaviors during grooming.
      • Stay calm — if you’re calm, it helps keep your furry friend calm, too.
      • Talk to them using a soothing voice while reassuring them that they are doing great.
      • Reward them afterward to reinforce positivity. 

Q: Does Brushing My Dog’s Coat Reduce Shedding?

Yes. There are numerous benefits to brushing your dog’s coat on a regular basis, some of which go beyond simply maintaining their health and hygiene. While (most) of your dogs will naturally continue shedding throughout the year, brushing your dog’s coat a few times a week:

      • Prevents matting
      • Removes undercoat and loose hair
      • Gives you an opportunity to check their skin
      • Familiarizes them with touch and grooming.
      • Strengthens your bond and trust.
      • Calms and soothes them.
      • Helps improve circulation.
      • Reduces the amount of hair in your home.
      • Gives you a chance to check for fleas, ticks, and lice. 

Q: Is It Bad to Not Trim My Dog’s Nails?

Yes. Neglecting your pet’s nails can lead to many painful and uncomfortable health problems for your canine companion. Unfortunately, this is one of the trickier grooming tasks for pet parents to tackle themselves. This is because if you use nail clippers, and you cut too low into the quick of their nail, it can cause pain, bleeding, and may be slow to heal. We recommend relying on your Eagle Animal Hospital veterinary team or a local grooming pro for this task. We can use tools like a nail Dremel to slowly and gradually sand the nail down and cauterize the end.

Tending to your dog’s nails:

      • Supports their comfort when walking, running, and playing.
      • Maintains their healthy hand and foot structure.
      • Reduces the risk of injury and deformity caused by overgrown nails.
      • Minimizes the risk of infection caused by excessive licking and biting at overgrown nails and pain.

Q: How Often Should I Clip My Dog’s Nails?

Generally speaking, most dogs will need a maintenance nail trim every 1-2 months. A good rule of thumb to tell when it’s time for a nail trim is when you can hear their nails clicking on the floor when they walk. If you have questions, consult with your veterinarian


Talk to Your Vet About Your Pet’s Grooming and Hygiene Needs

Our goal is to help you find the best ways to care for your pet’s health and well-being at home. Use these helpful tips to make self-grooming your pet a breeze, and something that is more of a bonding experience, rather than a stressful one. If you have questions about your pet’s grooming and hygiene needs, or if you have any concerns about their skin, coat, teeth, ears, eyes, and more, please do not hesitate to contact your Top Rated Local® Eagle Animal Hospital veterinarian in Riverside. You can contact our friendly Client Care team to arrange your pet’s in-person appointment for our veterinary services, or you can connect with your vet through the Virtual Vet portal using your phone to call or text. We’re here for you and your pets.