Grooming Your Dogs and Cats at Home

Spring has sprung and spring cleaning has begun, but we typically don’t think about including our pets in spring cleaning. However, now that your pets are shedding their winter coats and getting outside more grooming sessions are more necessary. When it comes to how to groom a dog or cat at home, we’ve got some tips and products that will make your next pet spring cleaning a little easier.

How to Groom a Dog at Home

To groom a dog at home, you first have to have the right grooming tools. Typically, this includes  dog nail trimmers, a good brush, dog shampoo, something to clean their ears with, and something to brush their teeth with.

When it comes time to clip your dog’s nails, there are a few different approaches. Nail trimmers like these are a great starting point and come in two different sizes depending on the size of your dog (and their nails!). If your dog doesn’t mind having their nails trimmed, a nail grinder is also a good option that makes for a smoother nail compared to trimmers. Anytime you trim your dogs nails, it’s smart to have a jar of cauterizing powder like Kwik-Stop on hand in case you get too close to the quick and the nail starts to bleed (if you’ve put together your first aid kit, you should already have this!). Get a wet cotton ball, press it into the powder, and then hold it to your pet’s nail for five to ten seconds. 

Our favorite tried-and-true brush to use are the FURminator brushes. The best brush for long haired dogs is this Undercoat deShedding Tool which comes in three different sizes, and the best brush for short haired dogs is this deShedding Tool for short hair. For days when you don’t need as much deshedding action, this Dual Grooming Brush is another great option.

A corgi with a purple "Best in Show" ribbon sits next to her FURminator after being groomed
@willothecorgi on Instagram

We recently asked our Instagram followers for their best at-home grooming tips, and when it comes to bath time our followers were PREPARED. Apparently if you don’t have this Waterpik shower head you’re doing bath time all wrong, and after one look at it we can see why. The detachable handle is a game-changer for bathing your dog indoors. Pick up a bottle of dog shampoo (and some conditioner for some extra floof) and you’re good to go! It’s typically better to bathe your dog after brushing, that way you can get out any loose hairs before they end up all over your house!

Cleaning your dog’s ears and brushing their teeth are also good things to do during your grooming session. To clean your dogs ears, all you need is some ear wipes to wipe the base and interior of your pup’s ear flap, being careful not to go too deep. Also in the wipe category is dental wipes for cleaning your dog’s teeth, but other options like a finger toothbrush paired with some doggy toothpaste are great, too! 

Grooming sessions can be somewhat stressful on your pet if they’re not used to them, so making sure that you’re taking breaks if necessary and rewarding positive behavior with tasty treats is the best way to groom a dog at home.

Cat Grooming at Home 

When it comes to how to bathe a cat, get ready. As you may know, most cats hate water so bathing them can be a little tricky. Our best advice is to fill a bathtub with enough water that it’ll go up to your cat’s stomach then put your cat in. Use a washcloth with some cat shampoo to wash your kitty, and then use a showerhead (the Waterpik showerhead mentioned above would work wonders here as well) to rise off. Dry your cat with a clean towel and make sure to reward them for good behavior with a moist pouch.

A cat stands over a variety of grooming supplies and Earthborn Holistic cat food

FURminator brushes aren’t just for dogs! They have a selection of cat brushes and deShedding Tools and the Dual Grooming Brush we mentioned earlier works great on cats, too. Especially with long-haired cats, it’s important to brush them often to keep shedding to a minimum. If your cat sheds a lot, this might be an activity best done outside if your kitty is used to the outdoors and you can take them outside safely.

Trimming a cat’s nails is just about as fun as giving them a bath and definitely takes some practice. Luckily though, most cats have white nails which makes it much easier to see their quick and much less nerve wracking for you. We still recommend having a jar of Kwik-Stop on hand just in case. Find some good cat nail clippers (cat’s nails are much thinner than dogs’, so the clippers are much smaller) and a partner. Have them hold your cat while you clip their nails, being careful not to get too close to the quick. If you don’t have a partner, you can wrap your kitty in a blanket to minimize their ability to scratch you while you trim.

More Springtime Pet Grooming Tips

During the spring, your dog and cat will start shedding their winter coat–hello, hair EVERYWHERE! Your dog shedding their winter coat just means it’s even more important to have a good dog shedding brush and to use it often to help keep shedding to a minimum. Same goes for the kitties as well. While you won’t get rid of tiny hairs floating around your house for good, you can at least make sure they appear less often. 

As we get outside more it’s also super important to check for ticks often, especially after arriving back home from an outdoor adventure. Our favorite pet-friendly brand for managing ticks is Cedarcide. They have a wide variety of products to help keep ticks at bay, but one of our favorites is this Flea & Tick Pet Brush. All you do is fill the handle with their All-Purpose Bug Spray or Cedarcide Original and then run the brush over your dog’s coat. It works great on long-haired dogs too and makes repelling fleas and ticks on-the-go super easy! 

From @cedarcide on Instagram by @red.and.the.blue.duo

If You Want to Choose a Dog Groomer 

Our favorite community response to at-home grooming tips? “Paying someone else to do it,” courtesy of Molly (@findyoursummit). Of course, when you have a dog as fluffy as Summit, we can’t blame her! Sometimes a groomer is a much easier option to keep your dog looking fresh. If you want to choose a groomer instead of going the DIY route and grooming your dog at home, there’s a few things to look for when choosing the right dog groomer for your pup.

One thing to think about is dog grooming training. If your dog is a specific breed, you want to make sure you have a groomer that knows how to cut their hair. Websites like the AKC Marketplace for Groomers would be a great place to start in this situation to find a groomer near you. If you’re looking for a breed-specific cut and know of a few local groomers, you might call them and ask about their experience with your breed to find out if they’re comfortable with grooming your dog. Even if you’re not looking for a breed-specific cut, it’s probably best to find out what dog grooming qualifications your prospective groomer has and also how knowledgeable they are in dog first aid.

When you call, also ask about what other types of services they provide. Are they willing to trim your dog’s nails while they’re there? Clean their ears? Brush their teeth? Find out what services they offer and compare that to what you feel comfortable doing by yourself at home. You may also want to ask about what grooming products they would use on your dog when you visit.

Squeaky Spring Clean

Whether you choose to groom your dog or cat at home this spring or leave it to the professionals, we all feel better after a good pampering day. With these tips and tricks you’ll have your pet feeling fresh in no time and ready to go–even if it only lasts a few hours. Don’t forget that rewarding positive behavior in situations like these is key to getting your pet used to grooming sessions, so don’t forget the treats!