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Grooming Your Dog or Cat: Bathing, Haircutting, Nail Trimming & More

Grooming is an essential element of pet ownership. Whether you have a cat or a dog, grooming promotes good health and helps to form a bond between you and your animal. Here are a few grooming basics from our Bartlett vets at Hillcrest Animal Hospital.

Grooming Basics

Dog Grooming

Your dog's specific grooming requirements will largely depend upon the breed and lifestyle of your pet. Dogs who spend large amounts of time outdoors, or with very long or thick coats will require more grooming than short hair dogs, or dogs that spend most of their time indoors. That said, all dogs require regular basic grooming to keep them looking and feeling their very best. 

Starting a regular grooming routine while your pet is young is key to making grooming calm and enjoyable activity for you and your dog.


Bathing your dog regularly will help to remove dirt and debris from your dog's coat and keep your dog smelling fresh. Bathe your dog in warm (not hot) water and use a specially formulated dog shampoo to clean your dog's fur. Never use human shampoo on your canine pal since human formulations could cause your dog's skin to become dry and irritated. Rinse your dog thoroughly to ensure that all of the shampoo has been removed. If your dog has very long or difficult fur, use a dog-specific detangling conditioner to make brushing easier.

Short-haired dogs may not need to be bathed more than once every 3 months, however dogs with longer fur, or very active outdoor lifestyles, may benefit from a monthly plunge. If you're unsure of how often you should bathe your dog, once a month is a good rule of thumb.


Many dogs enjoy being brushed. Brushing your dog regularly helps to prevent matting, removes old hair from your dog’s coat, and may prevent skin irritation. Weekly brushing also allows you to monitor the health of your dog's skin and coat, and may reduce the amount of loose fur floating around your home.

For most dogs, weekly brushing is ideal, although some breeds such as Portuguese Water Dogs or Bichon Frises will need to be brushed more frequently to keep their coat looking great.

Nail Trimming

Nail trimming is essential for all dog breeds. To trim your dog's nails use nail clippers specifically designed for dogs. Some dogs react better to rotary nail trimmers, but they do take a little longer to use.

If you are nervous about cutting your dog's nails, or if your dog won't tolerate you trimming their nails, make an appointment with a professional groomer. A trained groomer can get your dog's nails trimmed quickly and calmly so you won't have to worry.


Different breeds have very different requirements when it comes to haircuts. Speak to your Bartlett vet to find out how often your dog should have a haircut.  

To give your dog a haircut, begin by bathing and towel-drying your canine friend. Next, take a pair of sharp scissors and trim the fur around your pet's face and feet. Finally, use electric clippers to trim the rest of your dog's fur. 

Professional groomers have all the tools to make haircuts for your dog quick and easy. If you'd like to leave your dog's haircut to the professionals, contact us for more information.

Grooming for Cats

Cats are generally very good at keeping themselves clean and looking great. Nonetheless, regularly grooming your cat will give you an opportunity to keep a close eye on your cat's overall health. Basic cat grooming typically involves brushing, bathing, nail and paw care.


Begin brushing your cat while they are very young. This will help to make brushing a normal part of your cat's routine, and may come to be an activity that both you and your cat enjoy.

Brushing your cat once or twice a week will help to remove dirt, grease, skin flakes and old hair from their coat and may help to prevent furballs. Regular brushing can help to stimulate blood circulation and improve your cat's overall skin condition. Brushing is particularly beneficial for keeping older cats healthy and looking their best.


Cats rarely require bathing, unless they get into something especially sticky or stinky. 

If you find that your cat needs a bath, place a rubber mat on the bottom of the bath to prevent slipping, and use warm water with cat-specific shampoo. Have a towel ready to dry your cat off as soon as you remove them from the tub.

It's also a good idea to shut the bathroom door in order to prevent your cat from escaping, and consider wearing gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself from scratches.

At our Barlett animal hospital, we offer full grooming services for cats. If your cat could use a spa day we'd be happy to help, contact us for more information.

Nail & Paw Care

Whenever your cat jumps into your lap to be petted, take a few minutes to gently examine their paws. Check for cuts, scratches or any swollen areas. If you detect any blood or pus or notice a bad odor, see your vet. It's always best to treat issues early before they become serious.

Trimming your cat's nails may help to minimize furniture scratching around the house. If you begin trimming your cat's nails when they are young it should be an easy process. However, if your cat is unwilling to tolerate nail trimming, begin by touching and gently playing with your cat's paws when the clippers aren't nearby. As your cat gets more accustomed to having their feet touched you can gradually move on to trimming a single nail each session.

At our Bartlett animal hospital, we offer professional grooming for all breeds of cats and dogs. Contact us today for more information about grooming services, or to book an appointment.

Dog and Cat Pet Grooming Basics, Bartlett vet at Hillcrest Animal Hospital

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