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Tue, Jan. 21

Powers: Spring shedding means spring grooming
All about Pets

Grooming can be a very bonding experience, and BoJay is very comfortable with his friend, Lisa Ebarb. (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

Grooming can be a very bonding experience, and BoJay is very comfortable with his friend, Lisa Ebarb. (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

The temperature is rising and the trees are budding. Our pets are shedding like mad and hair is flying. ‘Tis the time for a thorough grooming for both dogs and cats. The more we brush, the less hair will be on the furniture and our clothes.

Having a grooming table or other sturdy surface makes the process much easier. A picnic table works well, but in order for the dog to be relaxed, the support must be very solid. Naturally, it all depends on the size of the pet. Cat grooming is best done on your lap where you can get a good grip with one hand and brush with the other.

Spring grooming normally starts with a bath. A wash tub in the laundry room is great for other than huge dogs. And the top of the dryer might make a good grooming spot, but be sure to put a non-slip rug on top.

The best place to do the first spring brushing is outside. It is easier to clean up and you can watch the birds come pick up the abundant hair to line their nests. It is a natural product so it should be OK!

Be sure to have an assortment of good quality grooming supplies designed to meet the needs of your particular shedding creature. Wire slicker brushes come in all sizes for all sizes of dogs and cats. The wire bristles are great for removing dead hair and other debris. A softer bristle brush works best for a short coat.

For the larger short-hair dog, like the labs and shepherd types, there is a rubber brush — do this in a circular motion all over and the hair goes flying. I use to use this on my horse — great for spring shedding.

Dogs with longer coats normally have an undercoat, and it is important to work through both layers because air moving though these two layers helps keep the animal cool in the summer and warm in the winter. That is why it is not generally advisable to shave a longer-coated dog during the summer.

There are a few breeds of dogs that do not shed, but that does not mean they do not need grooming. Most of these non-shedders need to be clipped from time to time. Many people take these guys to a groomer, but with some practice you will discover that being your own groomer is rewarding. If you choose to use a groomer, make sure that it is a good experience. Dogs are generally eager to return to a good, fun groomer.

Don’t forget the toenails. Dogs and cats alike fight having their nails clipped, and many are reluctant to trim the nails for fear of cutting into the quick, causing pain and bleeding for the animal. Nerve endings are in the quick and bleeding can be intense and frightening. Ideally, when you are sitting with your pet watching the news, play gently with their toes and nails. Let them sniff the clipper and feel it against their toes. Finally, just snip off the very tip of the nail. Do this regularly and you will never have to worry about injury. Having a little styptic powder on hand is reassuring. The Dremel grinder is an easy alternative, but introduce it slowly.

With any part of grooming, from nail care to teeth brushing and everything in between, the earlier you start with a new puppy, the better. Gently brush him with a soft brush and massage him. Handle his feet and nails and run your fingers gently over his teeth and gums. Finger gently around his ears and take a peek inside. All these things done early and gently will prepare him for visits to the veterinarian and the groomer.

Regular grooming will foster the bond between the two of you, but it also makes you very aware of any wound, swelling or abnormality on the body.

A well-groomed dog looks better and feels better. After a good grooming, you might see your pet strutting a little to show off.

Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at

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