Grooming for Better Health

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Whether your companion animal is a dog, cat, rabbit or horse, they all need to be provided with good grooming to remain healthy. Like cats, guinea pigs are fastidious cleaners, but even they need your help with daily or weekly grooming. Grooming your pet is an essential part of your relationship to them.

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When you are selecting your pet, consider their grooming requirements. Longhaired cats and dogs require daily, thorough brushings to stay healthy. If you do not have the time or the desire to provide this care, consider getting a shorthaired companion.

Lack of grooming can result in many problems. Matted or knotted hair can cause skin irritation and pain. Many dogs and cats will constantly lick the area, trying to remove the knot himself, resulting in hot spots — moist, raw sores on the skin. Hair that is left long and dirty, reaching into an animal’s eyes, can cause the eyes to become inflamed and infected. And dirty, ungroomed hair is many a parasites’ playground.

Brushing your pet is an important means for your early detection of flea, tick and mite infestations. You will also be able to determine if there are any skin rashes or tumors that need tending by a veterinarian. Brushing also helps remove shedding hairs, dirt, food and bedding material in their coat.

But there is more to just brushing for good grooming. Nails require monthly clipping, at a minimum, whether you share your home with a dog, cat, rabbit or guinea pig.  Ears also require cleansing. For some, such as cocker spaniels, you will need to clean the ears on a daily basis because they are long and get dragged on the ground every time he or she tries to sniff something on the ground. Adequate dental care is also important for a healthy animal. Your pet’s teeth need brushing.

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Male and female rabbits have two scent glands on either side of the genitals. These are two small pockets which need to be cleaned about every three months or so. When cleaning the scent glands it is important to be gentle. Use q-tip dipped in warm water and gently wipe out the debris.

Longhaired guinea pigs should have the hair on their hindquarters trimmed to floor length in order to prevent it soaking up urine, and to make it easier to keep them clean. The rest of the body coat needs to be checked regularly for matting and tangling.

Start grooming your pet when it is very young so that the sessions can be both relaxing and enjoyable for all involved. These sessions also provide important bonding time with your pet.

If you don’t have adequate time to provide all the necessary grooming, seek out a professional groomer. Doggie spas are appearing everywhere and some even offer massage therapy for muscle relaxation and pain relief, which may be associated with sport injuries and arthritis. Cucumber facial masks and aromatherapy that may be taking things a bit too far, but basic good grooming is essential for both a happy and healthy companion animal.

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