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To be healthy and happy, your companion animal needs basic grooming, too. You as your pet’s caregiver can handle the brushing and other simple grooming procedures yourself. This type of regular grooming helps build a close bond between you and your pet, and keeps you informed of the condition of his fur, skin, teeth, nails, and ears. In fact, it is not uncommon to discover lumps, infections, and other problems during a thorough grooming routine.

Should you take your pet to a professional groomer? The answer depends on the type of pet you have and your comfort level. For example, many people feel comfortable grooming their short-haired cats, while owners of long-haired dogs prone to mats opt for professional grooming. If you fall into the latter category, this need not be a "hair-raising" experience for you, your pet, or the groomer. The key is finding the right groomer to provide quality grooming care for your pet.

Grooming requires more than simply getting a haircut. It may include bathing, combing, brushing, clipping nails, cutting or shaving mats, cleaning ears, and controlling external parasites. You may not have the time, tools, experience, or physical ability to adequately groom your pet. Or a pet may require regular or seasonal clipping, medicated or flea baths, removal of skunk odors or harmful substances, or removal of matted fur. Typically, a trained professional can more safely and humanely handle tricky procedures and temperamental or frightened animals. (Removing severe mats should always be done by an experienced groomer to avoid accidental cuts.) Keep in mind, however, that professional groomers aren't miracle workers; it's up to you to stay on top of your pet's grooming needs. Prior to introducing your pet to a groomer. Groom him briefly when you're both relaxed. For example, begin by gently massaging his coat each morning as you feed him. Gradually introduce a brush or comb. Each day, increase the grooming time and work on different areas. Reward your pet for cooperating. The more comfortable your pet feels with home grooming and around strangers, the better he'll tolerate professional grooming. Your cat’s coat, it should be shiny and free from dandruff. It is a good indicator of your cat’s general health. Ungroomed fur which is abnormally sticking up, is a sign of ill health. By grooming your cat, you can encourage growth and shine in their hair. Most cats when they are happy and content will groom several times a day. It keeps their fur clean and free from any loose fur or debris that may have got caught in it. The cats tongue is covered with long barb like hairs which is an excellent tool for washing with. Cats are naturally clean animals, so your cat may not need you to groom her very much, particularly if she has short hair. Long-haired cats, on the other hand, need to be groomed more regularly, usually once a day. If your cat is used to being groomed, you will both enjoy this time together. Most cats purr when they're brushed, because it feels like they're being patted. For first time grooming, let your cat become familiar with comb or brush, this will aid in limiting their anxiety. Groom all the dead hair out of your cat's coat using a comb or soft bristle brush. Be particularly gentle when you're combing her head, then groom down her body, tail, and legs. Finally, go back over her coat with the brush to remove all loose hairs. While grooming your cat, be alert for cuts, lumps, fleas and rashes. If you come across some, contact your vet. The hair of long-haired cats and kittens can easily become matted. Once that happens, the tangled hair has to be removed before you can groom the cat properly – and unfortunately, this is not a happy moment for most cats, it might require the sedating of your cat and having the hair clipped by a professional cat groomer or your vet. Be sure to seek expert advice if your cat's hair becomes matted. If your cat is dirty, do not use soap, just wipe her down with a clean, damp cloth. Cats should not be bathed too often as it removes the natural oils from the skin that help with waterproofing and insulation. Always use a specially formulated cat shampoo to reduce this risk. DOGS:

Bathing dogs outdoors in warm weather may be the best place, because it is the messy part in dog grooming. Use a mild dog shampoo and start bathing the dog’s body and legs. The dogs head should be shampooed last, paying particular care to ensure that no shampoo gets into his eyes, ears, and nose. Cover the dog’s eyes with your hand while pushing the head down. You can try using cotton in the ears, or cover the ear hole with your thumb while bathing the dog. Leave the shampoo three or four minutes on the dog and then rinse, rinse, rinse. This removing of the shampoo is the most important part in bathing dogs. When you are done bathing, towel dry the dog by blotting and pressing the towel against the coat. Once again, comb the coat through before drying to make sure there are no tangles or mats. Always brush or comb your dog against the lay of the coat. You'll be surprised at how fluffy the coat will look. Brushing dogs is the most time intensive part in dog grooming. Do not press too hard with your wire slicker brush to avoid scraping the skin and giving your dog brush burn. If you encounter a mat, hold the mat close to the skin, insert the end tooth of the comb into the mat, and try working the mat loose. If this is not possible, consider to cut out a mat than cause the dog any unnecessary pain. Once your dog is matt-free, comb down to the skin. A puppy should be housebroken as soon as possible. When the puppy takes its first water or food, note how long it takes for the puppy to urinate or defecate. When you discover the schedule, take the pup outside when the prescribed time has elapsed after feeding or drinking. Soon, the puppy will associate the outdoors with its relieving function and will no longer soil the house or the newspapers that have been spread around its living are Young puppies should not be excessively groomed. A daily brushing with a soft brush is sufficient to remove surface dust and dirt. Some authorities believe that to conserve its natural skin oils a pup should not be completely bathed until its first birthday. Mud and deep dirt in its coat, however, can be removed with a damp, warm washrag. Afterward, the puppy should be completely dried with a rough towel. A dog can then have a complete bath when it is old enough, but it must be kept in the house until thoroughly dry, especially during winter. Dog nails should be trimmed periodically. Cut only the transparent part of the nail past the foot pads. Close clipping can cut into the "quick"--the portion of nail that has nerves and blood vessels--and hurt the animal. Special clippers can be purchased for trimming dog nails.

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