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All about pet grooming

All about pet grooming

- Categories : Health

© Martine Lavallée, BAA and animal health technician

Like humans, our furry friends need occasional cleaning, which we call grooming. Grooming involves a series of hygiene and maintenance tasks, such as combing, brushing, clipping, bathing (if necessary), cleaning eyes and ears, and trimming claws. 

Certain breeds of pet with long hair require daily combing/brushing to avoid skin problems. In fact, I've personally chosen not to have pets with long, dense hair because I don't have the time to groom them, nor the financial means to send them to the groomer periodically. 

Otherwise, full grooming can be done every three months with appropriate products like those from Zanimo. Claw trimming can be done every four weeks. Here's some information to help you complete the grooming cycle. 

Fur and care

The primary role of fur is protection. If we look at our pet's coat, we'll see that it's made up of two parts: the topcoat and the undercoat. 

The undercoat stores air and acts as an insulating layer. With Quebec's cold winters, this wool protects our animals from the cold if it's well ventilated and free of mottons. In summer, the undercoat also acts as protection against the sun's heat and UV rays, rain and insect bites. 

We prefer not to shave our pets, whatever the season, unless it's for therapeutic reasons. We must remember that our cats and dogs don't sweat like we do, so having bare skin doesn't help them to evacuate heat - on the contrary. Since their main mode of cooling is panting, the shaved animal is left with no barrier against the ambient temperature, which complicates its self-regulation. Some animals have more undercoat than others, making them even less suitable for shearing. 

On the other hand, dogs who spend a lot of time in the water to cool off can develop a painful dermatitis more commonly known as a "hot spot". In such cases, we strongly recommend shaving the hair on and around the lesion to thoroughly clean and disinfect the wound. This is an emergency solution, not a preventive technique. A dog sensitive to this type of wound will definitely require veterinary care, as these wounds grow rapidly. You can use Zanimo Confort Balm to soothe the wound while you wait for your vet's appointment.

Tangle hairs are removed by combing them out in small sections. To do this, use the tools below. Once the dead hairs are well removed, you can brush in the direction of the hair for a neater look. A product that can be used between grooming sessions, to help detangle knots and felted hairs, is Dry Shampoo. It's also ideal for water-averse pets such as cats. 

The bath

In my experience, dogs usually tolerate baths much better than cats, who often end up traumatized.

In general, a bath every 8 to 12 weeks is considered adequate to maintain the health of the dog's coat and skin, reduce irritation and limit odours. However, certain factors may increase the frequency of bathing, such as the dog's propensity for frequent soiling, odorous breeds or health problems requiring the use of medicinal shampoos.

It's important to be prepared with the right shampoo and towels on hand, as well as treats to keep the dog occupied during the bath. The two liquid dog cleansers I endorse are Moisturizing Shampoo and Island Coconut or Lavender Foaming Shampoo. 

The use of a Handheld Showerhead is recommended, as well as a non-slip mat in the bathtub to ensure our dog's safety. It's best to wash his body first, then his head. Avoid getting water in his ears and eyes.

Finally, after wiping our dog with a towel, he can be dried with a hair dryer on a cold or lukewarm setting. To make the experience pleasant and fun for our pooch, and to reduce his fear of bathing, the use of a special toy or treat reserved for this activity can help ease the process.

Eye cleaning

It's essential that products for cleaning our pets' eyes are specifically designed for them, such as Eye Contour. This product quickly removes the orange-brown hairs under the eyes. Its softening formula with propolis gives the hair a radiant shine. It facilitates cleansing and removes stains, scabs and dryness. The colloidal silver it contains has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and helps neutralize unpleasant odors in the hair around the eyes. 

As for Eye Care, it facilitates the cleansing of dried tears and soothes the discomfort caused by scratching. This refreshing, soothing recipe keeps the eye area healthy. It's non-irritating and restores radiance to under-eye hairs. 

Ear cleaning

Our pets' ears are an important and highly sensitive organ. If you notice that the inside and outside of your pet's ears are dirty, the first thing to consider is whether an infection (otitis) is present. Often accompanied by a bad odor, otitis requires the care of our veterinarian. He or she will examine the ears to determine whether medication is required.

In the absence of otitis, a routine of cleaning and sometimes tweezing (for Poodle and Bichon-type dogs) should be carried out at every grooming session. I recommend an ear cleaning every one or two weeks. Dog and cat ears have a very steeply angled ear canal (see picture of a dog's ear), so it's impossible to injure the eardrum.

To achieve this, I use Ear Care (for dogs only), which thoroughly cleans secretions and dirt from the ears. To remove secretions, cleansing cotton pads are very useful. Cotton buds are also indispensable for scrubbing every nook and cranny of the auricle. 

Claw trimming

It may seem trivial, but our pets' claws are more important than they appear. Trimming them is a must for every owner, as they can hinder our companion's walking and well-being in the long term. Taking care of claws is easier than you might think. You just have to know how. And if you're not comfortable, grooming and animal health specialists can do it for you.

Long claws are an impediment to any animal's quality of life, as they end up considerably hindering its movement, balance and posture. Retracted phalanges put excessive strain on joints, which can lead to injury and pain, forming a compensatory chain throughout the body.

Claws can also break or crack, leading to pain and infection. Also, just like ingrown toenails in humans, animals can suffer from claws that penetrate the paw pads. This is also very painful.

For successful nail trimming, the use of our human nail clippers is not recommended. Veterinarians, pet shops and some pet retailers sell nail clippers specially designed for dog nail care. 

Do not cut the very distinct living part on light claws. For darker claws, cut thin sections at a time. I recommend following the advice given by a veterinarian in her video 6 Tips to Make Cutting Dog Nails Easier. In the event of bleeding, apply a dry compress to the nail tip for 5 minutes. 


Our companions, like us, need regular hygiene care. Grooming remains essential, but can be stressful for both us and our animal.

With the right training, our pets will respond better to any grooming manipulations if we get them used to them from an early age. In fact, it's a good idea to handle the paws, toes and ears of our young pets on a daily basis, so that they are more easily touched and cared for as adults. An animal familiar with these gestures will participate much more readily in all grooming stages.

Where to find the products in this article?

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