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Spring Grooming Guide - Avoiding The Itches, Sneezes And Sniffles

Bulldog getting Bathed

With winter on the outs and nature officially in bloom, cats and dogs everywhere are gearing up to enjoy the spoils of the equinox. Sunnier skies, longer walks and bouncier balls are ahead — but so are the pollen and organic irritants that come with them.

Humans don’t hold the monopoly on spring cleaning. Now’s the best time of all to help your cats and dogs tidy up for the season ahead and keep the allergies at bay. Here’s what we recommend:

Wash that fur

For dogs, skip all human shampoos and soaps. The chemicals are likely to irritate your dog’s, or at worst, cause an allergic reaction. There are any number of canine shampoos available, so rather than reaching blindly for one, think about your dog’s specific needs.

Are they prone to allergies? Is their skin particularly sensitive? Have they been developing a strong funk? Do your research and find the shampoo that you feel could do the most good for your dog, and make every bath worth it.

For cats, bathtime isn’t always the copacetic experience. While cats are naturally strong swimmers, many breeds (with a few exceptions, such as the Maine Coon) hiss at the thought of a drenching. The ASPCA recommends a tub, a washcloth, some cat shampoo and a good half hour’s worth of patience. Go slowly, rub gently and saturate your cat’s fur in small portions so that they never feel completely submerged. Keep a few high value treats close by to reward them along the way.

Groom those coats

For dogs, the shedding may seem like it never ends. While dogs have evolved to tack on warmer, fuller coats in the winter, the opposite holds true as the weather starts heating up. As the spring hits, you may start noticing clumps of hair around the house, particularly for long-haired breeds. 

A trip to the groomer is a good place to start. While lion cuts may work well for certain breeds, what your dog really needs is a solid brushing and trimming. Groomers know to look specifically for knots and clumps as the spring rolls around to ensure your dog stays cool and comfy.

For cats, it’s fairly simple to take care of most of your spring grooming to-dos right at home. A cat brush — typically made of flexible steel — works best for catching the dying hairs and loose fur that seems to levitate right off their coat. Be sure to give them a good brushing monthly, especially for senior cats who may not be as apt to clean themselves as they once used to. 

Trim those nails

For dogs, we recommend a quick review of our nail trimming guide. If you plan to trim them yourself, make sure you’re in a position where you can see the nail fully, and that your dog starts off in an agreeable mood. Always keep some styptic powder on hand in case you accidentally cut too far back into their nail. The yelp and whimper may be difficult to hear, but rest assured it’s an injury that time will typically heal.

For cats, nail trimming is likely already a regular event in your household. Go slowly, take each claw individually and use a trimmer to snip a small, diagonal bit in order to retain an edge. While some cats will gladly sit for a manicure, others will fight tooth and nail for their freedom. The Humane Society recommends making it a two-person operation, with one person restraining your cat while the other gently trims.

Clean those ears

For dogs with long, wide or particularly furry ears, cleanings are nonpareil to at least begin the spring. As the bugs return to the land, sea and air, some are likely to take solace in the warm, waxy caverns the rest inside dog ears. Regular inspections and cleanings can help you avoid mites and ticks: Simply release a few drops of a vet-approved ear cleaner into their ear, massage it at the base for around 30 second to insure the cleaner spreads and breaks up debris, then let your dog shake their head clean. Repeat for the other side.

For cats, ear mites remain a threat in the springtime, though may pose less of a concern for indoor companions. Dirt, buildup and natural obstructions like earwax are more likely to start piling up in the spring as more irritants enter the air through AC units, open windows and dirty shoes. 

Like dogs, it’s important to find a cat-specific cleaner, drop it into their ear, gently massage and repeat on the other side. Do not, under any circumstances, use a q-tip to clean your cat’s ears. Cat ears are highly sensitive despite their constant exposure, and one false move could potentially do harm to their hearing or balance.

Get out there

Data from the UK suggests that pets may in fact be capable of suffering from seasonal affective disorder in the same fashion as humans. While the signs may be more difficult to notice, the best thing you can do is take advantage of all the sun and fun waiting to be had.

Clear your cat a nice, airy spot on the windowsill and let them soak in the rays. Take the long way around the block when you’re walking your dog and let them sop up the natural light. 

Do whatever you can to get outside and enjoy Mother Nature at her best. Your pets will thank you.

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