Adopting a pet means adhering to a regular grooming schedule. No matter the style you choose for your furry friend, it's important to groom your pet on a regular basis whether that means bathing, shaving, trimming nails, cleaning ears or brushing teeth. Here are the dos and don’ts of pet grooming.

Brushing Teeth

Groomers will sometimes offer this as part of their grooming routine, but, many times, this will be ineffective and a waste of money. What many people don’t know is that brushing must start at a young age to prevent calcified plaque, known as tartar or calculus, from building up on the tooth. If it’s already present on the teeth, the only thing that can remove it is a professional dental cleaning at your veterinary office. Brushing is only effective for removing plaque, like we as humans do. If you’ve recently gotten a dental cleaning for your pet, consider implementing a brushing routine to keep tartar from building up again.

Trimming Nails

Most pets strongly dislike having their nails trimmed, so it’s important to never cut them too short or scold them for being nervous. To make the experience less stressful for you and your pet, talk to them in a sweet, calming voice and offer treats throughout. It’s almost always necessary to have someone hold while you trim, or take them into your veterinary office to have it professionally done.

Dog

If you decide to trim your dog’s nails at home, here are a few tips to keep in mind. Your holder should lie the dog down, feet facing you. The holder should be squatting down behind them, holding the two legs closest to the ground with their arm over the dog’s neck. Have them gently press their body on the dog’s, but never put too much pressure on their chest or neck. By holding the legs closest to the ground, this will prevent them from continuing to get up. Next, as the trimmer, make sure you are viewing the nail from the bottom, not the top. By doing this, you will be able to see what’s known as a quick on your dog’s nail, which is the nerve inside of the nail. Trim small bits and pieces, never a lot, as this will give you more precision and accuracy so you won’t cut the nail too short and make your dog bleed. When you get to the quick, you should stop trimming; it looks circular and is in the very center of the inside of the nail. If a dog’s nails haven’t been trimmed on a regular basis, the quick will have grown out making a short trim unachievable. If at any time you are unsure about the process, don’t hesitate to take your dog to your veterinarian’s office to have them trim the nails for you.

Cat

Trimming a cat’s nails should follow the same process except for the restraint technique. In order to hold a cat properly for a nail trim, the holder should be behind the cat with the scruff of the neck in one hand and the back legs in the other hand. Scruffing a cat won’t hurt them, and it’s the safest restraint technique for everyone involved. Next, proceed to cut the nails while talking in a gentle voice. Again, don’t hesitate to take your pet to your veterinarian’s office if you don’t feel comfortable trimming the nails on your own.

Cleaning Ears

Your pet’s ears should look fairly clean on the inside. If you notice any signs of infection such as purulent discharge or a strong odor, don’t clean the ears and contact your vet immediately instead. If it’s a routine cleaning, and everything looks standard, there is a technique you should follow in order to clean your pet’s ears properly.


First, you’ll want to purchase an ear cleaning solution that’s made for pets. You can get this at your veterinary clinic or nearest pet store. Next, grab your pet’s ear flap and pour a generous amount of liquid into the ear canal, until you see it begin to pool at the top. Your pet may want to shake their head at this point, but try to prevent this so the liquid stays in the ear. After the solution is in the ear, grab the base of your pet’s ear which should feel bulbous and hard due to the cartilage. Next, massage the ear up and down for a full minute. You should keep a firm grasp, but not too hard. After the minute is up, take a soft tissue and wipe out the discharge that you’ve knocked loose. You may see dark yellow, brown or black gunk on the tissue, which is generally normal. You can also use a Q-Tip for the ear flap, but never put it inside of the ear canal.

Bathing

Bathing your pet should only be done with pet-safe shampoo. Never use hand soap, human shampoo or harsh flea shampoos. If you notice fleas, contact your veterinarian immediately to begin a flea control regimen with prescription products.


Many pets dislike being bathed, so again, talk to them with a soothing tone and provide treats throughout. Whether you choose to bathe your pet at home, or take them to a groomer, it generally only needs to be done once a month or less. If you bathe your pet more frequently than that, their skin can become dry and itchy. During a pet’s bath, take the time to look over their skin and make sure you don’t notice any lumps, bumps, rashes or flakiness. Also, look inside their ears to make sure everything looks normal and clean.

Shaving

Many pet owners think that trimming their pet in the summertime will help to keep them cool, but this is actually a myth. An animal’s coat functions as insulation for their body, whether it’s the summertime or wintertime; it keeps their temperature right where it should be. In addition, leaving their coat in the summertime can help to prevent sunburn and skin cancer.

Dog

Dogs tend to do best with their natural coat unless it’s too difficult to manage, they cannot clean themselves or they have skin conditions. Contact your veterinarian if you have any questions about your dog’s hair or skin.

Cat

Cats get stressed out very easily, so they should never be shaved unless they can no longer clean themselves. If a cat’s hair is matted, especially down to the skin, it causes severe pain so it’s important to have them shaved as soon as possible in this scenario.