In addition to food, shelter and medical care, pets require grooming to keep them healthy. Small animals, such as hamsters and gerbils, may groom themselves to keep clean, but large pets often require more than tongue baths can offer.

Grooming is an important process that keeps pets’coats, nails, skin and ears clean and healthy. Regular grooming sessions also offer other benefits, such as providing one-on-one socialization with an owner or professional groomer. Routinely handling a pet will help him or her become more acclimated to people and close contact, while also familiarizing pet owners with their pets’ bodies, which can help them notice any abnormalities that much sooner.

How frequently pet owners should have their pets groomed depends on the disposition of the animal as well as its coat type and level of activity. For example, dogs that spend a good deal of time indoors may not become as dirty as those that go on frequent jaunts through muddy yards. Cats handle a lot of their own grooming, but may benefit from periodic brushing and other care. Once pet owners see how fur grows and when paws need tending, they can develop a routine that works.


The Animal Humane Society recommends bathing dogs only every two to four months unless the dog has gotten into something dirty or very smelly. Cats do not need to be bathed very often, and even then only if they get into a sticky mess or smell bad.



Brushing is a grooming technique that can be done much more often. One or two brushings per week with help keep cats’ healthy glows, as brushing removes dirt, grease and dead hair. Cats that tolerate grooming well may enjoy more frequent brushings.

Regular brushing of dogs’ coats helps to slough off dead skin and distribute natural oils. Brush a dog’s coat every few days, regardless of fur length. Look for brushes that are designed for particular coat types. A few different types of brushes may be necessary.

Foot care

A variety of tasks are involved in pet foot care. Nails are one area that need to be addressed. Long nails on dogs can be cumbersome and even painful if left unattended. Many groomers and vets recommend trimming nails when they’ve become so long they click on the ground when the dog walks. Pet owners will soon learn to guage the length of time between trimming, but a good rule of thumb is every two weeks.

The Humane Society of the United States says that trimming cats’ claws helps prevent deep scratches when people play with cats. Trimming also protects furniture and other household items. Trim claws every few weeks.

Other foot care involves trimming fur from between the pads of feet and inspecting feet to ensure there are no cuts or other foot injuries.


Dogs and cats may need some help keeping their ears clean. Keeping the inside of pets’ ears clean will make pets feel good and can prevent ear infections. Discharges or unusual smells emanating from an ear or ears should be addressed by a veterinarian.

Grooming pets can help ensure their long-term health and comfort.

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