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Grooming Your Dog or Cat

    One of my favorite indulgent things to do is treat myself to a relaxing facial, a massage or even a haircut. The operant word here is "relaxing"; as it is for us, grooming your pet ideally should be soothing and enjoyable for them and for you.
    Once a month every month, I bathed my dog. In the warmer weather, we went out on the back patio where I had assembled the shampoo, conditioner (yes, I used a gentle "human" conditioner on my dog and everyone who petted her remarked on how soft she was!), her comb and at least 2 towels. In the winter, I warmed up the bathroom first, had at least 3 towels available to prevent water from flying everywhere when she shook herself, placed a rubber mat on the floor of the tub so she wouldn't slip and positioned the blow dryer and comb in the living room.
    When I washed her, I made sure to use a lot of soap, work up a good lather and massage it into her skin and hair thoroughly. This was especially important in the warm weather to get rid of any fleas she might have picked up. But she actually liked it! As I soaped and kneaded, a look of blissful contentment would come over her face and she would smile happily, wreathed in white suds!
    After she was dry, I would inspect her claws to see if they needed trimming. This was also the time when I checked for any bumps, scrapes or any other unusual skin conditions that might need attending to.
    My favorite part of Doggie Spa Day was at the end after my dog was all nice and clean and dry - I loved to bury my nose in her fragrant, soft hair and give her tummy rubs.

    Grooming my two cats was also a once a month event, though usually not on the same day as my dog. This meant giving them a thorough brushing and combing, trimming their nails and administering hairball treatment if necessary. In all honesty, I doubt either one of them actually liked this process, but I made sure that both of them got treats afterward.
    What I found worked the best for nail trimming was to position each cat upside down on my outstretched legs. I was usually sitting on the floor, leaning up against the side of the couch. At first, it took some time for them to get used to this but I was patient, gentle and persistent and once they were lying comfortably on their backs, I made sure to praise them enthusiastically! I used a regular human nail clipper and carefully pushed on their pads to extend the nails. Eventually, I learned to do this fairly quickly and accurately, minimizing their discomfort. When clipping kitty nails, don't forget the dewclaws! If your cat has them, when long, they can catch on upholstery, carpet and drapes. Regular combing and brushing is important for cats as they can form hairballs if they groom themselves often; it also helps to loosen dead skin as well. You can bathe your cat (I have seen actual photos of this!), but unless it's absolutely necessary, I would avoid it.

    So, create the ultimate Doggie and Kitty Spa Day for your pets and make it as fun and relaxing as possible!

    Deborah Dobson, FizzNiche Staff Writer