As you may already know, each animal is unique. You may have to purchase a few different brushes and practice different strokes before you find the one your animal enjoys. Your loved one should enjoy brushing, and it should be a fun and bonding experience for both you and your pet. Soft strokes in the same direction of the grain of fur growth are a good place to start. There are many brushes and combs on the market to choose from. I recommend brushing at least once every 7 days, more if you find hair mats or foreign material in the fur coat. DO NOT CUT OUT FUR MATS, as there is a high potential to accidentally cut your loved one’s skin! Often these mats can be broken up by gently using your fingers and brushed out with a high quality brush/comb, but some may need professional assistance. This act also familiarizes you with your pet’s body condition… you may notice new lumps, bumps, or abrasions that need medical attention.
Some pets love water and bathing, and others act like you are using lava instead of lukewarm tap water! If your animal allows you to bathe them, I would recommend seeking advice from your local groomer for the frequency of baths for your breed of pet. Typically, I would recommend bathing canines once every month, and felines once every 3 months- more if your pet experiences incontinence. I recommend using the bathtub, with continuous running lukewarm water and the drain open; do not fill up the bath or submerge your animal, as this might cause panic. If the noise from the running water scares your pet, you can fill up the bathtub to the height of their knees and use that water as you would during a bath for yourself. As always, soothing reassurances in a soft tone will encourage your pet to trust your good intentions. Lukewarm water is appropriate, as they are not used to warm or hot water baths like we are, and no one enjoys a cold bath! I bathe pets from their necks down, and do not get their ears or faces wet at any time; water in the ear canal could cause infection. A soft washcloth outside of the bath can be used for faces, and your veterinary team can instruct you on ear cleaning. Gentle massage with appropriate canine or feline shampoo, and ample rinsing with water will do the trick for their fur coats. These baths should be kept to the shortest amount of time as possible, since it is most likely uncomfortable for both of you. There are also waterless shampoos or pet/baby wipes available on the market, if your loved one does not tolerate the bath, has specific medical needs, or you are otherwise limited with the logistics of a bath.
Clean and Dry
Proper drying is essential, as senior animals cannot thermoregulate (keep a healthy body temperature) as well as they did when they were younger. A clean, soft towel to can be used to soak up the majority of the wetness (rigorous scrubbing is not recommended), and possibly a blow drier or fan might be necessary. Blow-drying can often be loud, scary, and too hot to our loved ones, and a fan may keep your animal cold or dry out their eyes. Please use your best judgment to help dry your animal after a bath, or seek guidance from a pet groomer or veterinary professional. Nail Trims Nails can grow so long that they may cause injury to you or themselves, or even distort your animal’s walking gait. Animals are often sensitive to nail trims, and it is very easy to trim them too short and cause bleeding, so you may seek out a professional groomer or veterinary team to assist you with this task. If you think your pet may be lacking in one of the areas listed above, please consult a veterinarian for recommendations. Please remember each individual animal is unique and special, and may require more than what is listed in this blog. This blog is not meant to replace professional veterinary medical advice. Home to Heaven offers consultations with a licensed veterinarian who specializes in geriatric companion animals, and can also offer grooming assistance. If you are interested in a consultation, please contact me directly, or one of our care coordinators during business hours to schedule an appointment.
-- Michelle Marie Daly, CVT l Veterinary Nurse