Best Pet Grooming & Hygiene Products
While we may share a bed with our pet, they require a whole different set of hygiene products and practices to keep them happy and healthy. Getting cat or dog grooming right often takes some trial and error, but when you get it right you can skip a trip to the groomer and do the dirty work yourself.
Smells nice and natural
Foams up easily
Leaves coats smooth and shiny
Clears ear build-up and infections
Relieves sensitive skin
Clean, fresh scent
How do you maintain pet hygiene?
A lot of work goes into keeping your pet hygienic and healthy, but here are a few frequently asked questions and answers to keep in mind when you’re shopping for grooming and hygiene products.
How often should you wash your dog?
Generally speaking, you should wash your dog once a month - however this can vary greatly depending on your dog's fur type, how much time they spent outside, any allergies they have, and how old they are. Some dog breeds with oilier coats should be washed every week, but if you notice that your dog is starting to smell, then that usually means you should schedule in some bath time.
Do you bathe a dog before or after grooming?
You should bathe your dog and let them dry completely before you groom them. Clipping a dirty dog could cause dirt and debris to clog your clippers, making your job a whole lot more difficult.
How often should you brush your dog?
You should brush your dog every other day, regardless of fur length, to prevent knotting and matting as well as to control shedding.
How often should I cut my dog's nails?
You should trim your dog's claws every 1-2 months.
Do I need to groom my cat?
The short answer is yes. Cats groom themselves constantly, which means they aren’t as high-maintenance as dogs, however they can't do things like trim their own nails and clip their own hair when it gets too long, so you'll have to do these things for them. Because they lick themselves constantly and ingest everything on their coats, it’s also extremely important to choose shampoo and other topical pet hygiene products with ingredients that are safe for them.
Do I need to wash my cat?
Many cats, particularly short-coated cats, rarely require you to bathe them. If you do want them to be clean and smell fresh, then you can bathe them, however you shouldn’t do it more than once a week. Overwashing your cat is possible, and doing so can strip their coats of the natural oils that keep them healthy.
How often should I clip my cat's nails?
You should clip your feline's claws every 2 weeks.
Types of pet grooming and hygiene products
Shampoos and conditioners
With so many pet shampoos and conditioners on the market, it can be difficult to know what to look for to give your pet a shiny, healthy coat.
It’s important to choose a shampoo or conditioner that is specifically suited for the type of pet you have - that is, if you have a dog, buy a dog wash or shampoo. If you have a puppy or kitten, you should look for an age-specific shampoo, as these solutions are often gentler.
Some shampoos offer , but these are short-term measures that only kill living fleas and not eggs, so your pet will still be prone to future outbreaks. Therefore they should only supplement, not replace, other flea and tick treatment.
For pets (particularly cats) who are particularly averse to water, there are shampoo alternatives that you can try, such as wipes and waterless shampoo products such as foams and powders that just need to be massaged into their coats.
You should consider using a conditioner or a combination shampoo-condition if your pet’s coat is dry or tangles easily - this will make it smoother and easier to maintain.
What if my pet has sensitive skin?
If your pet has dry, itchy, or sensitive skin, it’s best to see a vet before buying any dog or cat grooming products.
The condition of your pet's skin can also be affected by a range of different factors, from allergies and fleas to cold weather or a poor diet. In this case you will need to treat the cause of your pet’s skin condition in addition to using products that can help ease their symptoms.
While in general it’s a good idea to avoid artificial fragrances and dyes as it can irritate any pet’s eyes and skin, this is particularly important for pets with sensitive skin. For dogs, look for a moisturising shampoo and conditioner with natural ingredients like oatmeal, aloe vera, and vitamin E to use in dog baths. Some of these natural ingredients can be toxic to cats, so they won’t be present in shampoo formulated for cats.
Do not use human-grade shampoo on your pet - while it may give you luscious locks, most human shampoos and conditioners contain chemicals that are too harsh on your pet’s skin.
If your pet’s skin condition worsens or if a new condition develops after using a new shampoo or conditioner, discontinue use immediately and consult with a veterinarian about medicated shampoo or other treatments.
Different pet brushes serve different purposes, so you should consider the type and length of your pet’s coat (such as whether it’s short, long, thick, or double coated) and what your pet’s coat needs. Some pet owners will need a deshedding brush while others will need a detangling tool - it all depends on the pet. As with all pet grooming products, ensure that you use a dedicated cat or dog brush for the animal the product is intended for.
- Slicker brush: A slicker brush has fine, angled wire bristles, and is great for removing knots in medium, long, or curly fur. If you use it on a short-haired pet you need to be extra gentle so you don’t scratch your animal’s skin.
- Undercoat rake: An undercoat rake has a wide set of teeth to remove loose undercoat fur easily, particularly for double coated, thick and heavy fur.
- Flea comb: A flea comb has teeth that are extremely close together to pull out fleas and debris from fur. After every stroke ensure you rinse off the comb in warm soapy water to prevent fleas from escaping.
- Rubber brush: A rubber brush is a multi-function brush that can remove loose hair, act as a massager, and be used when bathing your pet. It’s suitable for all coat lengths, but is particularly great for short hair.
- Bristle brush: A bristle brush can come in different sizes, making them suitable for all coat types depending on how large and spaced apart the bristles are. They’re useful for smoothing out fur.
- Mat breaker: A mat breaker has sharper blades that cut through the fur to remove knots. They shouldn’t be used on smooth coats.
- Moulting comb: A moulting comb has two pin or bristle lengths, making it great for removing knots from double coated or thick coats.
- Deshedding tool: A de-shedding tool removes loose and dead undercoat hairs in double coats, thick or heavy coats, or in pets that are prone to shedding.
If you’ve got all the brushes needed to keep your pet’s coat glossy and tangle-free but you’re still struggling with all the fur around the house then you can also buy a pet hair broom, which has bristles designed to catch your pet’s fur when you use it on carpet, rug, or hard surface.
Regular ear cleaning can help prevent ear infections in your dog or cat.
Symptoms of an ear infection include:
- Odour from the ears
- Redness of ear canal
- Excessive scratching around ears
- Excessive ear discharge
- Frequent head shaking (in dogs)
- Loss of balance (in cats)
It’s recommended to use a high quality ear cleaner. Avoid ingredients like hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, as this can cause irritation inside the ear canal.
Look out for antibacterial and antifungal ingredients as they can help prevent ear infections, particularly if your pet is of a breed with a predisposition to ear infections (for dogs, this includes Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds).
Talk to your vet about your pet’s specific needs and how often you should be cleaning their ears.
Creams and skin solutions
If your pet has a particular skin condition - such as dry skin or allergies - then a cream, ointment or other topical skin treatment may provide them with some relief.
Different creams will specify which animal and condition they’re for, so ensure you follow these guidelines and any other preparation and application instructions listed on the product’s label. Some will have specific instructions to stop your pet from ingesting them - for example, many formulations for cats are designed for rapid absorption to minimise the risk of your cat licking the product.
Do not use your own lotion on your pet - common ingredients in human lotions can be dangerous to your pet. For instance, zinc oxide is commonly used in sunscreen and nappy rash creams, but is toxic to dogs.
It’s also important that you don’t immediately trust a product because it’s “natural” or “organic” - cats can be extremely sensitive to “natural” ingredients like essential oils, some of which (such as tea tree oil) can be toxic to them. If you’re buying a lotion with these in it ensure that the product specifies that it’s suitable for cats and that you have your vet’s approval.
Stain and odour removers
It’s normal for your curious critter to go poking around places and doing things humans would consider dirty - such as sniffing around garbage cans and rolling around in the mud - and bringing back interesting smells and debris back into the house.
Sometimes you may find that your pet - particularly if they’re young and untrained - has left behind urine or faeces in a corner of a room. Pet pheromones also just aren’t always welcome to human noses, and while we love our pets, we don’t necessarily want to smell them all over the house. These are instances in which stain and odour removers can be your best friend.
They’re usually designed to clean and remove spots and smells from carpets, bedding, furniture, , and the air. Look out for products that are antibacterial, antimicrobial, deodorising, and purifying, as these properties are more likely to leave your house looking and smelling fresh. While they can come in a range of forms, it’s common to find these as an easily applied spray.
There are many things to consider when buying cat or dog clippers - here are just a few.
- Comfort: You want your clippers to have some weight to them but not heavy enough that it will tire your hand out when giving your cat or dog haircuts. It’s best to go in store and feel for yourself how ergonomic different models are.
- Blade size: With blade numbers, the higher the number, the shorter the cut.
- Sound: Some pets scare easily, and so opting for a quieter model may be worth considering. Cats in particular are quite skittish, so a lot of cat shavers on the market are relatively quiet so as to not agitate them as much.
You can also find cat or dog grooming scissors to cut around more difficult places, like joints and paws, or if you want to style your pet in a certain way rather than trimming all their fur to a uniform length.
Cat and dog nail clippers come in a variety of styles:
- Scissor/plier style: This style is, as the name suggests, much like scissors, and plier styles have a spring near the blade for extra strength. It’s great for pets of all sizes, but particularly for large dog nail clipping.
- Guillotine style: A guillotine clipper has a small opening for the nail which a blade then cuts. It can be used on all sized breeds, but it may be difficult fitting bigger nails into the opening.
- Grinder style: A grinder clipper uses a rough rotating barrel to grind the nail down. It’s suitable for all size breeds, but may not be a good dog or cat nail clipping option for pets who don’t like the noise - they may however be a good option for those who are concerned about hitting the quick in their pet’s nails.
Different pets require different types of love and care. Finding the right grooming and hygiene products for your pet will be affected by your vet’s advice, your personal preferences, and of course, how your canine or feline reacts to the products you use.
There are a lot of hit-and-miss products on the market, so doing research and experimenting with different ones should help you get off on the right foot and well on your way to keeping your pet looking and feeling great.