Pets have very different types and lengths of care so they all have different grooming requirements. All pets - especially those with long hair, wire-haired or woolly-coated breeds - should be groomed regularly otherwise the hair can become tangled, knotted and accumulate foreign bodies such as grass awns, dirt and small pieces of gravel. Grass awns can penetrate through the skin and cause serious infection with abscess formation. Gravel picked up into the feet can be very painful and lead to local ulceration, self-trauma and lameness.  

Grooming also removes other accumulated debris such as skin cells, glandular secretions, inflammatory cells , bacteria and their breakdown products, pollen,  mold spores, and so on.

Neglected animals develop an unkempt appearance and look untidy and uncared for. Long standing neglect can lead to irritation, self-trauma, and bacterial infections. It is particularly important to remove shed undercoat hairs so that thermoregulation (control of body temperature) can be maintained normally. Regular grooming to remove this hair also reduces the amount shed into the animals environment.

Excessive hairloss could indicate an underlying disease problem so you should consult with your veterinarian about this.

Generally speaking you should groom your pet for 15-30 minutes every week and it helps if your pet enjoys the experience - so start the process early in life and make it a regular event.

A wide selection of combs, brushes and clippers are available and you it is important to choose the tools that are best suited to your pet's  coat type. Very fine toothed combs are unsuitable for thick coarse coat types.

Combs should have rounded ends - not sharp edged ends otherwise they can scratch the skin. The comb depth needs to be long enough to get to the base of the hairs. Stripping combs are designed to remove dead hair - but care is needed when hair is tangled in a close matt because the skin can be twisted into it - and rough stripping can bruise or even tear the skin.

A carder - flat board with thin bent metal teeth, is useful to remove small hair mats and dead hair. Gloves with teeth built into them are also popular with some people.

Brushes should be used with the lay of the hair in smooth-coated animals, and against the lay of the hair in animals in which the coat is meant to stand up.

Electric clippers are essential for busy kennels or veterinary practices as they make trimming so much easier. They are particularly helpful to trim long hair between the toes and foot pads, and behind the ears. Care is still need so as not to scratch the surface of the skin causing "clipper rash" or even small cuts.

If you use scissors always use them with a close blades to tease matted hair apart. NEVER use them to cut hair because you may cut skin twisted up into the matted coat.

"Plucking" is a technique used by groomers to pull out dead hair using their thumb and forefinger. Excessive hairs are also "plucked" out of the ear canals in some dogs.


Washing with a shampoo should always be carried out after an animal has become soiled or has been swimming because all sorts of chemicals, organisms and other products could be accumulated in the coat. If left they may cause local irritation and lead to infection, as well as adversely affecting the natural sheen and appearance of the coat.

A wide variety of mild shampoos are available for bathing cats and dogs and other pets. Only use soap shampoos in soft water because they leave a mineral film on the coat if used in hard water areas.  Detergent-based shampoos can be used in hard water but they are harsher on the coat. Medicated shampoos eg flea preparations can also be used. The benefits of the use of conditioners, pH control and other human preparations has not been fully evaluated in pet animals .

Never use paint stripper or other solvents to remove paint. tar, creosote or another noxious substance  that has dried on the coat because the solvents are themselves potentially toxic and can cause chemical burns to the skin. Cut or clip the hair off instead.




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