Skin problems, torn nails, and ear infections are common problems in pets, but regular grooming can prevent these issues, or detect them in early stages. Grooming also offers an opportunity for you and your pet to bond, but if you need a little extra help, your Town & Country Animal Hospital Team is here. Our veterinary team can assist you with medical grooming tasks, and we offer full professional grooming services through our sister hospital, Columbia Pike Animal Hospital. Whether you groom your pet at home, or trust their care to a professional, here are the top five reasons to keep up with your pet’s grooming routine.

#1: Prevent pet nail overgrowth and breakage

Overgrown nails are prone to break, which can lead to pain and infection. They may also grow long enough to alter the way your pet walks, causing joint issues, or grow into the paw pads, causing intense pain, infection, or abscesses. These issues all have one thing in common—severe pain. To keep your pet comfortable and happy, trim their nails every two to six weeks, depending on the nail growth rate and natural wear pattern. Nail trimming can be stressful for some pets, so ask your veterinarian or groomer for tips, or seek regular professional care.

#2: Prevent pet ear infections

Ear infections are common, especially in breeds with small ear canals (e.g., shar peis, pugs), or dogs with “floppy” ears (e.g., basset hounds, Labradors). Infections are painful, and can lead to scarring, or reduced hearing, and surgery may be required to remove the ear canal entirely if the infection becomes chronic. To avoid this extreme scenario, all pets should have their ears cleaned at least monthly, after bathing, and after swimming. Some pets may require cleaning every one to two weeks—your veterinarian can provide an appropriate ear cleaning solution, and show you how and when to use it. 

#3: Keep the skin and coat healthy

Regular skin and coat care benefits all pets. You or your groomer can use this time to inspect the skin for parasites, lumps and bumps, dryness, oiliness, or other issues, and report any problems to your veterinarian. 

  • Bathing — Bathing removes excess oil, dirt, hair, and dead skin cells. Most dogs need a monthly bath with an aloe or oatmeal-based pet shampoo, as human shampoos are too harsh for your pet’s skin. Cats typically do not require bathing unless they have a skin condition, or cannot groom themselves because of age or joint issues. Some pets with skin conditions need a bath every few days to weeks with a medication shampoo prescribed by their veterinarian.
  • Brushing — Brushing removes excess hair and dead skin cells, spreads natural oils through the coat, and prevents hair matting that can pull on the skin and cause infections from accumulated debris. As a bonus, the more hair you remove while brushing, the less ends up on your furniture, floors, and clothes. Depending on coat type and length, your pet may need brushing every day to once per week. 
  • Trimming — Haircuts and trims for long-haired breeds prevent matting, and keep your pet’s coat in top shape. Your groomer can recommend a breed-specific or other cut, depending on your needs. Some breeds benefit from trimming around the eyes, ears, feet, and hind end, to keep these areas hygienic and debris-free. 

#4: Prevent pet anal gland problems

Dogs and cats have two small glands on the inside of their anus that produce a fishy-smelling fluid. The glands should empty on their own when your pet has a bowel movement, but sometimes the fluid inside becomes thickened, and prevents this from happening. The thickened fluid builds up in the gland, causing discomfort, infection, and sometimes an abscess. Signs include licking and “scooting” the hind end. Manually emptying the glands is often part of a full grooming service, and your groomer can alert you if the fluid looks abnormal. If your pet has ongoing issues, you should ask your veterinarian to perform this service, to see if the problem has an underlying cause. 

#5: Spot pet dental problems earlier

All pets should have their teeth brushed daily, but many pet owners fall short of this recommendation. Your groomer’s toothbrushing is not a professional cleaning, and will not remove existing tartar from your pet’s teeth, although they will examine your pet’s mouth between veterinary visits and ensure they have no major issues. If your groomer spots a problem, like a broken tooth, see your veterinarian right away. Otherwise, use toothbrushing as a reminder to establish your pet’s daily oral home care routine, if you haven’t already. 

A regular grooming routine can keep your pet looking and feeling great. At Town & Country Animal Hospital, we have your pet’s medical and grooming needs covered. Call us to schedule a grooming visit with our Annandale team, to schedule an appointment with our Fairfax veterinary team, or if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s skin, nail, dental, or ear care.