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Pet Grooming Essentials for Dogs and Cats

Essential Tools for Dog Grooming

Large or small, hairy or sleek, all dogs need to be groomed to stay healthy and looking great. Washing and cleaning a dog removes dirt and germs that can cause illness or infection. Trimming and washing their coat also leaves them looking sleek and smelling great. For the best dog grooming, it is essential to invest in the right dog grooming tools.

1. Dog Brush

Dog Brush

Before jumping to the wash, it is important to brush a dog's fur to remove any shed hairs or dirt. Frequent brushing will help a dog to shed less and have a more beautiful coat. Less shedding also means less pet dander that can cause allergies. Brushing a dog can also relax them which makes the entire grooming process a lot easier. Using a good quality brush will produce a smoother and shinier coat, but the right brush will vary for different breeds of dog. Here are a few different dog brushes to consider:

  • Slicker brush: Slicker brushes are a dog grooming standard. These brushes have fine clustered wires that allow them to remove small mats, excess hair and dirt. This all-purpose brush works well for almost any breed and hair type but is especially great for dogs with longer or thicker fur. Self-cleaning slicker brushes are also available that can retract the bristles so hair can be easily wiped away.
  • Bristle brush: Perfect for short-haired pooches, bristle brushes can rub away dead skin cells and loose hairs. These brushes are also available with longer or more widely spaced bristles for dogs with long fur. Bristle brushes have the benefit of helping to produce a soft and shiny coat by distributing the natural oils in the dog's fur.
  • Curry brush: Another great option for dogs with short fur, a curry brush has short rubber bristles that stimulate the skin and remove dead hairs and dirt.
  • Grooming glove: If a dog is nervous or it is their first grooming, using a grooming glove can calm them while providing a quality brushing. These flexible gloves have small rubber pegs on the underside so you can brush the dog by petting it. Grooming gloves work well to remove shed hair, but are not suited for detangling mats or knots.
  • Pin brush: With thin wire pins, these brushes are typically reserved for a finishing brush after knots have been removed. However, pin brushes can also work well for dogs with medium-length or curly hair.
  • Shedding blades: This helpful tool can be used to remove excess water after a bath or remove dead hairs. A shedding blade is a flexible metal loop that typically has one coarse and one smooth side, for removing hair and smoothing the dog's coat, respectively.

2. De-Matting Comb and Detangle Spray

If a dog has particularly difficult mats or knots, there are a few tools available to help tackle them. A detangling spray can be used to loosen mats so they are easier to work through with a regular comb. A medium-toothed comb will work for a wide variety of breeds, but a wide-toothed comb may be necessary for dogs with particularly thick fur. For more serious mats, a comb designed specifically for de-matting dog hair will be your best option. De-matting combs have curved metal teeth that slice through knots as you brush without irritating the dog's skin.

If a de-matting comb doesn't do the trick, try a mat rake or mat splitter. Mat rakes and splitters have metal teeth designed to cut through tough tangles in a dog's undercoat without cutting the hair. Depending on the length of a dog's coat, mat rakes and splitters can be purchased with different length blades. Choosing the right size is essential to avoid irritating the dog's skin. These de-matting tools can also cut away chunks of fur if used improperly.

3. Dog Shampoo and Conditioner

After the dog's coat is brushed and detangled, it is time for the bath. Choosing the right dog shampoo is essential for maintaining a smooth and beautiful coat. While some dog owners may be tempted to use human shampoo for their pet, dog shampoo has a different pH balance that is tailored to dogs. Quality dog shampoo will effectively remove dirt, odor, bacteria and dead skin to keep a dog clean, healthy and looking great. Some shampoos will also contain essential oils and other ingredients designed for a specific dog breed or type of fur.

For most dogs, any reputable shampoo brand will provide a great hair wash. However, there are some specialty dog shampoos available such as whitening shampoo for dogs with white fur and shampoo for sensitive, itchy or dry skin. Other shampoos are designed to remove odor or prevent fleas and ticks.

Applying conditioner after the wash is optional, but can be beneficial for dogs with longer fur. Dog conditioner can help prevent knotting during post-bath brushing. It can also replace oils in the dog's fur to ensure a shiny, soft and hydrated coat.

4. Spray Hose

While not a necessity, a spray hose will make washing and rinsing a dog much easier. When washing, you will want to completely wet the dog's fur before applying shampoo and thoroughly rinse the shampoo out after you are finished washing. A spray nozzle is effective for removing lingering shampoo residue, but you can use a water pitcher if you prefer not to purchase a spray hose.

5. Grooming Towels

Grooming Towels

Grooming towels are another pet grooming essential and have a variety of uses throughout the grooming process. Towels can be used to help lather the pup with shampoo or wipe away extra hair during the brushing process. Towels can also be used as table toppers to make a wet and slippery surface absorbent and safe instead. After the wash, grooming towels are essential for removing water from the dog's coat. Even if you choose to use a dog dryer, towel-drying the dog first will remove excess moisture to significantly reduce the drying time. Grooming towels are available in a variety of sizes for different sizes of dogs. When shopping for grooming towels, look for durable towels made of high-quality materials that will withstand several washes without fraying.

6. Dog Dryers

When drying a small or medium-sized dog, using a towel will typically be the fastest and most efficient option. Towel-drying can also be sufficient for large dogs with short hair. However, if you are grooming a large dog or dog with thick fur, a dog dryer can be a handy tool. While it can be tempting to use a regular hair dryer for drying a dog, it is important to buy a dog-specific hair dryer. Dog dryers use high-speed air, while hairdryers for humans use heat. Using a regular hair dryer for a dog can burn their skin quickly, so it is best to invest in a dog dryer.

7. Dog Hair Trimmers or Scissors

For trimming a dog's coat, you can use electric clippers or scissors. If using an electric clipper, choose one that is designed for dogs as their hair is thicker than human hair. An electric clipper for humans will quickly become dull if you use it for pet grooming. Trimming shears can also be a great option for cleaning up a dog's coat. If the dog is prone to moving around, try ball tip scissors. These tools have a rounded tip that helps prevent nicks and cuts. Scissors are great for removing small mats, trimming toe hairs and cutting the hair around a dog's face.

8. Ear Cleaner and Cotton Balls

As dogs run around and play outdoors, their ears will naturally gather some dirt and debris. Wax also builds up over time, just as it does in human's ears. When cleaning a dog's ears, use otic solution or another ear cleaner that is safe for dogs. Just apply the cleaner using cotton balls or gauze and then wipe away any excess liquid.

9. Nail Clippers and Styptic Powder

While some people may see nail clipping as cosmetic, it is actually essential to good canine care. Long nails can lead to painful snags or tears on a carpet or while your dog is playing outside. When nails extend past the dog's paw, they impact how the dog walks, which can lead to joint problems or canine arthritis. When clipping a dog's nails, use the right size and type of nail clippers. Here are a few different options of tools for cutting a dog's nails:

  • Scissors: For small dogs, sharp scissors can be sufficient for nail trimming.
  • Guillotine clippers: These nail clippers are used by inserting the nail into the clippers which then cut off the end. Guillotine clippers are great for medium-sized dogs.
  • Plier clippers: Best for large dogs, plier-style clippers resemble scissors but are stronger for cutting larger nails.
  • Nail grinders: Another excellent option for large dogs, nail grinders have a rough grinding surface that spins to remove some of the dog's nail. Nail grinders make it easy to trim a dog's nails without cutting the quick.

When trimming a dog's nails, be careful not to cut too far to avoid hurting the dog. If you do cut too close to the quick, you can use styptic powder to stop the bleeding. Styptic powder is a topical medicine that causes the dog's blood vessels to constrict to stop the bleeding.

10. Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Toothbrush & Toothpaste

For teeth cleaning, choose a toothpaste formulated for dogs. Because dogs have a different body chemistry, human toothpaste is not a good option for dogs. To brush a dog's teeth, apply toothpaste to a toothbrush then allow the dog to lick it off. Gently pull back the dog's lips and brush each tooth.

11. Grooming Table and Restraints

A grooming table with restraints can be very helpful for grooming dogs that are nervous or prone to fidget or move around. Restraints will help the dog to stay still while you cut their fur or trim their nails, which reduces the risk of an accident or injury.

12. Dog Treats

While some dogs will love being brushed and washed, others may not enjoy the grooming experience. After grooming is complete, reward the dog with a treat. This will both cheer the dog up and help them associate grooming with a pleasant experience. When a dog enjoys their grooming, they will be more well-behaved for the next grooming, and their owner will be more likely to bring them back the next time.

Essential Tools for Cat Grooming

While cats will generally keep themselves clean and groomed on their own, there are instances when they may need an extra hand. A playful outdoor cat can get muddy, sticky or stinky and need a good wash. Brushing a cat also helps them to shed less and have a shinier coat. Indoor cats can also tear up carpets or furniture if their claws are not clipped. Read on for some essential tools for performing the best cat grooming.

1. Cat Brush

Cat Brush

Brushing a cat removes dirt and excess hair while preventing knots and keeping their coat smooth. When brushing a cat, always work the same direction that the fur grows. Be gentle on their chest and stomach where they tend to be more sensitive. The best brush and brushing technique depends on the length of fur a cat has.

  • Short-haired cats: For a short-haired cat, use a fine metal comb to brush out knots. Start at their head and work towards their tail. Follow with a rubber or bristle brush to remove the loose hair and dirt.
  • Long-haired cats: Long-haired cats are more prone to getting knots or mats in their fur than short-haired cats. Use a wide-toothed comb to work through any tangles. Once you've removed the knots, brush the hair away from the cat's body. Use a bristle or wire brush to remove the loose hair. When brushing the hair around the cat's face, you may want to use a toothbrush or other small brush.

2. Cat Shampoo and Spray Hose

Most cats dislike getting wet and are likely to struggle or resist when given a bath. Cats also clean themselves with their tongues, so baths are not necessary as a regular part of grooming. However, outdoor cats may become particularly dirty, or their fur may become greasy. If you must wash a cat, choose shampoo that is safe for cats and use warm water that will be a comfortable temperature. Fill the sink or tub with only a few inches of water and work from the head down when washing. Avoid applying shampoo or spraying water directly on the cat's head as it may frighten them.

When rinsing a cat after shampooing, it is best to use a spray nozzle. A hose will remove all of the shampoo residue while being gentle on the cat. Using a spray hose will also allow you to more easily hold the cat while rinsing. If you choose to use a pitcher, make sure it is not breakable as cats are likely to struggle when being washed.

3. Grooming Towels

After you bathe a cat, dry them with a grooming towel by wiping the water away. Because a wet cat may also be an unhappy cat, grooming towels can also be used to comfort a cat after a bath. Wrap the cat in a grooming towel and rub them to comfort them.

4. Ear Cleaner and Cotton Balls

For the same reasons it is important to clean a dog's ears, a cat's ears should be cleaned too. Use a cat-friendly ear cleaner and apply it gently with a cotton ball or gauze to remove dirt and excess wax.

5. Nail Clippers

Nail Clippers

Trimming a cat's claws will help prevent them from scratching furniture or carpets. If the pet owner has small children, clipping a cat's nails can also make the cat safer to play with because their claws will not be as sharp. To clip a cat's nails, first push down gently on the top of their paw to extend their claws and then carefully clip each claw without cutting the quick. You should be able to tell how far to cut, as the tip of the claw will be white or clear, and the quick will be pink. Be sure to use nail clippers that are specifically designed for cats.

6. Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Cats can sometimes have smelly breath, or you may simply want to help them clean their teeth. Just like brushing a dog's teeth, it is essential to use a toothpaste created for cats. You may also want to use a toothbrush designed for cats as a regular toothbrush will be too large for their mouths.

7. Cat Treats

After you have brushed, washed and clipped a cat, be sure to reward them with a treat. The patient feline will remember their grooming more positively and enjoy it more the next time.

Pet Grooming Towels From Towel Supercenter

If you want to be the best dog or cat groomer around, you will need the right pet grooming tools for the job. Grooming towels are a versatile pet grooming essential that are useful throughout the grooming process. Whether you are drying a pet after washing or cleaning up when the grooming is finished, you need a large quantity of great grooming towels. At Towel Supercenter, we offer high-quality pet grooming towels in a variety of sizes for every dog and cat. Our towels are made of 100 percent cotton and hemmed to protect against fraying. Safe for constant washing and bleaching, grooming towels from Towel Supercenter are durable and long-lasting. As you are stocking your groomer's toolbox with all the best tools, shop Towel Supercenter's selection of high-quality and affordable grooming towels.

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