Spring showers may bring Texans their annual bluebonnets, but that’s not the only thing on the horizon. Sometimes, those puddles of muck are just too tempting for our four-legged friends to ignore. Chances are your canine (or feline) companions might find themselves in a particularly dirty situation this spring, so we decided to share our own tried-and-true advice on how to make grooming easier for everyone involved.
Here’s Brilliant Energy’s roundup of our favorite at-home grooming tips.
Problem: It’s time to trim your cat’s nails (if you own a cat, you know just grooming is a problem in itself!)
Solution: Have your vet walk you through it the first time
Brilliant Tip: “If you’ve never done it before, I would ask a vet to show you how to trim the nails so that you know how much is safe to cut off. When you’re at home, wait until your cat is calm and maybe drowsy before you try to trim her nails. I wait until my cat, Kelly, is curled up somewhere and lazy. I also do not force her to let me trim her nails – when she starts resisting a lot, I let her go. Even if it means I only got one paw done.” —Jessica R, pet parent to Kelly
How to be prepared: When grooming your pet at home, accidents are bound to happen. As Jessica mentions, a common at-home grooming danger may be trimming your pet’s nails too short. To halt minor bleeding, use a product that’ll stop bleeding and soothe your pet’s minor cuts in an instant.
You should also have a contingency plan in case the worst happens. So we advise that you groom your pet on a day when your veterinarian is open (in case you need to make an emergency trip if those nail trimmers get too close). And as always, keep those poison control hotline numbers nearby. The Pet Poison Helpline charges $39 per call, call be reached at 1-800-213-6680, and each call includes unlimited follow-up consultations. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center charges $65 per call, can be reached at 1-888-426-4435, and each call includes a follow-up consultation. Both hotlines are available 24/7.
Problem: There are too many choices in the grooming aisle
Solution: Do your research before you purchase anything
Brilliant Tip: “I would do some research on the particular brush, shampoo, creams, etc. that are necessary for your animal’s coat type. While you might find a shampoo that smells delicious, it might not be compatible with your pet’s fur.” —Kynndra, pet parent to Riley (dog), Mjö and Harper (cats)
“Take your time and find what works best for your dog. When grooming, you will experience a lot of trial and error. Once you find the right products, it will get easier for you.” – Nadia, pet parent to Bruno
Applying the tip at home: In addition to researching quality shampoo and conditioner, you should add clippers, brushes, extra towels, and a waterproof apron to your list. The more tools you have in your pet-cleaning arsenal the more confident you’ll be during grooming time, experts say. And that confidence will shine through when it comes time to properly “baby talk” to your pet during the grooming routine. Why baby talk? Pet product giant PetSafe recommends praising your pet while you groom to make the process more enjoyable. You can even try feeding your pet treats or giving them a rawhide to gnaw on during the process. Brilliant Energy pet parent, Jayson recommends “treats before, during and after grooming.” – Pet parent to Buddi (dog) and Rusti (cat)
Problem: Your dog hates to be brushed
Solution: If they’re not skittish, pull out the vacuum cleaner
Brilliant Tip: “Cooper is the one dog who does not like to be brushed to remove loose hair, and I found myself fighting him every time I needed to brush him. That was until I found that playing with the vacuum cleaner gives him joy—now every time I vacuum the carpets I take the time to vacuum Cooper all over and suck out some of those loose hairs.” —Fernando, pet parent to Cooper
Applying the tip at home: Some home appliance and pet product companies actually sell vacuum extensions specifically designed to make grooming your pet easier. Some major brands offer their own attachments for you connect to your vacuum’s hose. The end of the grooming device resembles your typical pet brush, and some versions even have a hole in the center where the excess fur gets sucked up in the vacuum cleaner.
Problem: Cutting fur can be a hassle
Solution: Start with a bath, end with quality clippers
Brilliant Tip: “I always like to bathe and blow dry my dog, Drexler, before cutting his fur as it helps the fur stand up a little better. A good pair of clippers or shears is an excellent way to make sure that you do a good job as well. —David, pet parent to Drexler
Applying the tip at home: You usually get your hair washed at the salon or barber shop prior to a cut, don’t you? So don’t skip this step with your pet either. Washing the fur will give you a clean canvas to work with, and the blow dry will give you a better sense of how their fur will fall when it’s all said and done. And grooming experts like Mark Webb of CentralParkPaws.net agree with David and you shouldn’t pinch pennies when it comes to your favorite pooch. One product that consumers should never skimp on is clippers, Webb says. “Quality clippers are quieter so they don’t scare the dog, they are built specifically for grooming so they’re more effective, and they last longer so, in the long run, you end up saving money.”
Problem: Your pet is skittish
Solution: Take it easy, and go slow
Brilliant Tip: “As a non-expert, the advice I would give based on what I have seen from my mom is to build a lot of trust beforehand. My dogs deeply trust my mom and I think that’s part of why they will at least tolerate being groomed. I might try giving them treats intermittently throughout the process so that they associate it with something good or give them a chew toy or bone that they can occupy themselves with, which may help them sit still. I would also try building up to a longer groom by breaking the process up into shorter stints so they don’t get too stressed out (or start to squirm too much!). It also helps to have someone else (preferably someone your pet knows) hold them still and give them some treats or pet them so that you can focus on grooming.” —Jessica B, pet sister to Corduroy “aka Cody”
“...just be sensitive to your dog's needs (allergies, etc.)” – Matthew, pet parent to Lord BooBookins and King Bowser
Other pet calming advice: John Paul Pet recently launched a pet bathing campaign, called Bathing Basics, to educate both pet parents and retailers on proper grooming techniques. Overall, the Bathing Basics campaign features 12 bathing tips. The Brilliant Energy Blog reviewed the line’s tips, and here are two of our favorites: To reduce pet anxiety during bathing, place a towel on bottom of tub or sink to muffle the sound of the water spray and to prevent slipping; and Pets are calmer if you start at the tail and move forward wetting down and lathering the coat.
Problem: Your pet is high maintenance
Solution: Leave it to the professional groomers
Brilliant Tip: “If your pet has long fur or a special coat that needs extra attention, it’s sometimes best to let the professionals handle the grooming. They have all the tools and experience so they can get the job done quickly, which reduces the stress on your pet. Also, some pets just love to be pampered!” —Melissa, pet parent to Ari
“Time is something people never seem to have enough of and if you don’t have the time to groom your pet, take him to a professional. Just because you don’t have time doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be done.” – Simonne, pet parent to Nugget & Moby
How to find a reputable groomer: Looking for a professional groomer? For starters, seek recommendations from your pet-loving pals, your veterinarian, and your local boarding facility. Houston PetTalk magazine has its own listing of pet groomers across the city, and the National Dog Groomers Association of America has a database of its certified groomers. Then, visit your top choices and ask for a walk through of the facility. While you’re there, make note of your first impressions (Is the facility clean? Are the employees friendly?), and ask the groomer questions about their grooming process, what tools they use, and how they restrain their animals (if needed), etc. And as a new client, don’t be afraid to ask to be in the room during your pet’s first grooming session. The more information you have about the facility, the more comfortable you’ll be when it comes time to drop off your pet for their first appointment.