Don't Make These Grooming Mistakes

Overlooking the Ears

Grooming doesn't stop with your pet's fur; his ears and nails need to be properly attended to as well.

Ears are especially important — and not just on the outside. You need to pay careful attention to the insides of your pet's ears. It’s counterproductive to clean ears too frequently — that can affect the ear’s own internal cleaning system — but it is important to give them a good sniff and a visual once-over every week to make sure they don’t smell bad or look dirty or reddened by infection. Looking your pet's ears over regularly also has the added advantage of helping you to see when something isn't right, which can help get an ear infection or other issue diagnosed and treated more quickly.

Avoiding the Paws

Grooming doesn't stop at your pet's feet though — take a good look at his nails. A dog’s nails should be kept short and even. If you can hear your dog's nails clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Canine toenails that resemble eagle talons make it difficult for your dog to walk and increase the chance that he will get one caught in something and break it off. Ow!

Frequently, nails get too long, because people are afraid to trim them. Their pets don’t like having their paws touched, and maybe they’ve had a bad experience with “quicking” the dog — accidentally cutting into the quick, which is the blood vessel and nerve that supply the nail. The dog’s scream and all the blood is enough to put anyone off trimming nails, but you can learn how to do it properly. Talk with your vet or your groomer for guidance.

People also forget to trim the hair between the pads of the feet. If that hair isn’t kept trimmed, it can collect tar, stickers, small stones or foxtails, causing pain when the dog walks. In winter, ice can build up in the fur between the toes. That hair can also become matted if it isn’t kept trimmed, and it can make hardwood floors too slippery for dogs to walk on.

Another problem I see is that people don’t teach their pets at an early age to love being groomed, from a soothing brushing to a necessary nail trim. Before they are even a year old, what most dogs and cats have learned is that if they put up a fuss, their owners will back off. Even if your pet is older, with a little patience (and some treats), you can help him learn to accept or even look forward to grooming. The goal is to do everything you can to make grooming a positive experience for your pet — and yourself.

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