House Training Your New Puppy

A new puppy in the house is an exciting time! Full of wiggles and squishy puppy goodness. But it also can be a bit of a challenging time for new owners as they navigate the first training phases. One of the toughest and time consuming is the house training step. But don’t worry, as long as you’re consistent and patient, most dogs can be easily house trained.

Remember That It Takes Time

One of the first things to keep in mind as you begin the house training process is that it takes time, so be patient! Some puppies can be trained within 4-6 months, but others can take up to a year. The key is to never, ever give up and always be consistent! The more you stick to your routine, the faster your puppy will become trained to only go potty outside. If it feels like it’s taking forever, or that he just doesn’t seem to be learning fast enough, don’t fret. Every pup is different and he will get there!

The Nights Will Be Long At First

Be prepared to get up at least a couple times a night for the first few weeks. Typically, by 16 weeks, your puppy should be sleeping through the night. But this can vary by puppy. Some begin sleeping through the night much earlier. No matter how long it takes, it’s important to get up and let him go outside to go potty when he needs to. This will help reinforce the house training. However, be sure to very simply get up, take him outside, let him potty, and then bring him right back inside again and put him back to bed. If you’re crate training, take him directly back to his crate and put him back away. It’s important not to pet him or play with him or do anything that might make him want to get up during the night for anything other than going to the bathroom. You want to teach him that if he whines during the night, he will only be let outside to go potty, and that is it. This will encourage him to sleep.

Watch Him Closely During the Day

Keep a close eye on him at all times as he’s hanging out around the house. Take him outside every little bit and give him a command like, “Let’s go potty!” or “Outside!” or “Potty!”. Right at first, you might have to take him outside as often as every 15 minutes. Then every 20 minutes. Then every 30 minutes. As your pup gets the hang of it, you’ll be able to stretch it further and further out. But be sure to follow his cues and if it looks like he’s sniffing for a place to go to the bathroom, take him outside right away. And don’t forget to praise him each and every time he goes to the bathroom outside!

If You’re Crate Training

If you’re going to train your new pup to sleep in a crate, use this as a potty training tool. Keep him in his crate at night and only take him out of it when he needs to use the bathroom. Work on training him to go to his crate when you say “crate” or “kennel” or “go to your bed”. Give him a treat every time he goes to his crate and praise him. It can take some time for him to get used to using their crate so stick with it and work on keeping it a positive experience for him. Also, keeping him in his crate when you’re not able to keep an eye on him will really help with house training. He won’t want to go potty where he sleeps, so it’s a great tool for teaching him to hold it until he goes outside!

When You’re Ready to Use a Pet Door

As soon as you feel like your pup is ready to start learning how to use the pet door, just as you did with the other steps, be patient and go at your dog’s pace. Hold the flaps open at first so that he can get used to using the pet door before the flaps actually rest on his back. Reward him with a treat and lots of praise every time he goes through it. Don’t forget to use commands with the pet door as well so that he can associate it with going outside to use the restroom. Say this like, “Outside,” “Potty,” or “Tinkle,”

With a little time and patience, your pup is going to be house trained in no time! Remember, this stage won’t last forever so take your time getting Fido trained to use the bathroom outside, and you’ll be really glad you took the extra time to get it right.

Tips for Hiking with your Dog

With spring quickly approaching or already here in some areas, hiking season is right around the corner! And whether you’re planning just a quick day trip, or you’re looking at doing some serious backpacking, there are a few things to consider if you’re going to bring your pooch along. 

First, make sure you bring all the necessary supplies:

-Plenty of fresh water/portable filtration system
-Collapsible food and water bowls
-More than enough dog food and treats for the duration of your hike
-First aid kit
-Baggies for dog waste
-Blanket(s)
-Dog booties
-Unscented gentle baby wipes
-Towel
-Leash/lead

When you’re on your walk, be mindful to be constantly monitoring your dog’s behavior to ensure he’s not becoming taxed. Don’t rush and take plenty of breaks, especially if your dog is not as experienced hiking. If it’s warm out, try to find shady places to take breaks and allow your dog to get some water. If they’re barefoot, make sure the ground is not too hot for their paws. If it is, consider the dog booties. 

Avoid feeding your dog too much food before or during the hike, which might make their stomach upset. Instead, give them little snacks and treats along the way. This both gives him the motivation to keep going on the journey, but also gives him little energy boosts as well!

Keep a close watch on your surroundings during the hike. Watch for poisonous plants that your dog could get into, as well as wild animals that may not be too pleased to be messed with. Little critters like porcupines and snakes love to camouflage themselves, so it’s good to be aware. Your dog will alert you immediately if he spots something or catches a whiff, so he’ll give you the heads up. Keeping a leash on your dog is an extra bit of assurance that you can keep control over him should he become too interested in something.

If your dog is accustomed to a dog hiking pack, this can be a great way to distribute the weight carried. You can put their food and accessories in their pack, leaving yourself a bit more room in your own pack.

Remember to take your time during your hike and don’t allow yourself or your dog to become overexerted. Avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day and to take plenty of nice long breaks as you go. A lot of dogs absolutely love getting to explore the outdoors with their owners on hikes through the wilderness, and with a little planning and preparedness, it’s a doable outing!

Have fun and happy hiking!

Pet Poison Awareness Month

Did you know that March is Pet Poison Awareness Month? It may not always be obvious, but potentially harmful, even fatal, poisons could be lurking around your home or yard without you even realizing it. It only takes one accident for a tragic outcome. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common, but not always thought of, poisons that could be in or around your home.

Human Foods

Most of us are probably guilty of occasionally sneaking a little treat of human food to our pets. We all know that it’s really not that great of a thing to do, but darn it, sometimes it’s hard to resist those big eyes! And while, yes, human food is really not that great for the waistline of our dogs and cats, sometimes it can truly be dangerous. Chocolate is famously dangerous for dogs and it can easily be fatal. It contains something called theobromine, which is related to caffeine. But have you heard of how deadly Xylitol is? It’s a sugar substitute that is in lots of things. This is seriously one you need to watch out for. It’s found in gums, drinks, candies, snack foods, and plenty of other prepacked foods. Not to mention a lot of us keep bags of the stuff in the pantry to use in our baking. So, make sure to check your cupboards and if you find anything containing this sweetener, please keep it well out of reach of your pooch! There are also produce items that can be harmful such as onions, and garlic, that can cause anemia in both dogs and cats. So before you decide to make any homemade foods for your dog or cat, please research the ingredients to ensure that they are healthy for them.

Rodenticides

We cannot stress enough how much we recommend using a different method to control rodents than rodenticide. Obviously, most users would be very responsible in keeping this stuff well out of reach of both pets and children, but it doesn’t end there. Have you ever considered what happens to the target animal after it ingests the poison? Sometimes they wander away and end up dying somewhere where your dog, cat, or even a wild animal such as a hawk, can find it. Unfortunately, when an animal eats another animal that has ingested rodenticide, it can very easily become quite severe, even fatal. This type of poison causes internal bleeding, kidney failure, and seizures. It is truly nasty stuff and for the sake of your pets, the pets living near your home, and the wildlife, we strongly suggest using other methods to control the population of rodents if you’re having issues with them.

Human Medications

This is one of those ones that a lot of people may not immediately think of! But just as you keep medications out of reach of kids, you’re definitely going to want to keep them out of reach of pets, too. There are tons of different medications that can have various harmful effects on both dogs and cats, even over the counter medications, so just don’t risk it by keeping anything out in reach. Always keep them locked up in a medicine cabinet, or you can purchase a small medication lockbox in many pharmacies and online.

Household Plants

Many houseplants are perfectly safe for cats and dogs, but there are a few that you need to look out for. Some common plants are Lillies, Aloe, Elephant Ears, Asparagus Fern, and Sago Palm, just to name a few. Before you purchase your plant from the nursery, look it up and double-check to make sure it is safe to have in your home. And remember, often times the tag from the nursery will not say if it is poisonous or not, but typically a quick internet search will help you determine it.

This list was just a few possibilities of poisonous items you could have around your home. If you’re ever questioning, it’s always best to double-check! And if you’re concerned that your pet has ingested something poisonous, don’t wait! Call the Animal Poison Helpline right away at (855) 764-7661 (FYI, there is usually a fee involved for consultations), or contact your veterinarian. Remember, when it comes to poison, time is of the essence and it’s always best to be safe rather than sorry.

February is National Cat Health Month

Cats. Such self-sufficient little creatures that like to pretend like our presence in their lives is not really that necessary. That we’re really only there when they are feeling particularly generous. Solitary hunters, cats enjoy a friendship with us that is loving, yet aloof. But the truth is, they of course, really do need us! Whether those kitties like to admit it or not, they depend on us for food, shelter, and all of their medical needs. Since February is National Cat Health Month, we thought it was the perfect time to talk about some of your cat’s basic needs to keep him happy and healthy!

Litter Boxes

A good general rule of thumb for litter boxes is one per cat. It’s important to stay on top of keeping their box clean. Depending on how many cats you have, it may even need to be scooped more than once a day! Leaving a cat box dirty for too long invites some very unwelcome health issues for kitty, so be sure to keep it clean for him! There are tons of different litters out on the market, so you’re sure to be able to find one that fits your needs. Some are made for multiple cats, some are made out of cedar or pine pellets, some are even made out of recycled newspapers! My personal favorite is the kind that easily slides out of pans and into the trash when it’s time to dump it.

Water Bowl

Now, this may go without saying, but it’s always good to have a reminder about water. Access to clean water is, of course, a vital part of your cat’s health, so please don’t neglect it! Washing his water bowl regularly is a great way to keep it free of harmful bacteria. It’s also probably a good time to point out that cats can be pretty darn picky about their water. Some do just fine with a regular old water dish, others prefer to drink out of a tall glass so that they don’t have to bend over so much. Some felines refuse to drink from anything but a water fountain (cats totally dig moving water!). So, if your kitty appears to not be drinking water, it might be time to mix things up and try another way to offer it.

Grooming

Grooming your cat may not seem necessary to you, especially if you have a kitty with a short coat. But it really is. Regular brushing will not only help keep their coat in good shape, but it will strengthen your bond. Cats groom each other, so if you take part in grooming your cat, you’ll really start feeling like best beds. Not only that but if any bumps or other irregularities pop up on his skin, you’ll notice it much sooner and be able to get it checked out by a vet.

Urinating Outside the Box

Just like we mentioned above, it’s so important to keep your cat’s litter box clean. One of the many reasons to do so is that if it gets too yucky, your cat will begin to go somewhere else. Yuck! Nobody wants that! But, should your cat ever begin to urinate outside of his box, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your vet to get checked out before you blame it on a dirty litter box. Urinating in strange places could mean serious health conditions, so please rule that out just in case.

Keep Those Chompers Clean

Just like with dogs, it’s also important to keep your cat’s teeth in healthy working order. There are special toothbrushes and toothpaste made just for cats, so don’t try to use anything made for humans. If you work with your cat regularly, it’s likely that you’ll be able to get him used to an occasional brushing. But do talk to your veterinarian as well about scheduling annual teeth cleanings for kitty to really keep that tartar away!

Spay or Neuter!

Don’t forget to do the right thing by getting your cat fixed! You’ll not only help the overpopulation epidemic facing cats in our country, but you’ll also help your kitty avoid health issues in the future. Spaying and neutering help prevent many reproductive cancers and other illnesses in both male and female cats. Not only that, but it can help ease your male cat’s urges to roam or spray to mark territory.

Dog Ownership and Cardiovascular Health: Wagging Tails and Happy Hearts

February is American Heart Month, a time for raising our awareness of issues that can prevent cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. It is a good time to check in with how well you are taking care of your heart with a healthy diet, adequate exercise, and your stress management strategies. These important lifestyle factors can have a major impact on your risks for cardiovascular disease.

One lifestyle change that you might find surprising may be to consider dog ownership. In fact, there have been a great number of scientific studies showing various ways that dogs may improve our health (check out Wileypup.com’s comprehensive guide), perhaps most notably, our heart health. Let’s take a closer look:

Improved Heart Rates and Blood Pressure

As we all know, heart rate and blood pressure are key indicators of our cardiovascular health. A less known fact is that our furry friends may actually have a direct impact on both. There just seems to be something about spending time with a loyal dog that helps to soothe the heart. And, the effect is more than just emotional, in fact, it is physiological as well.

And, you don’t have to actually have a dog of your own to experience these benefits. In fact, spending time with dogs at a rescue or by offering to pet sit a friend’s pooch may be another way to experience the heart calming presence of pets without the vet bills, food costs, and additional long-term responsibilities.

Increased Activity Levels

We all know we need to be getting up and active every day to promote a strong and healthy heart as well as maintain circulation, muscle tone, and bone density. However, sometimes it can be hard to stay motivated to take the best care of ourselves. Studies have shown that dog owners do get more exercise than their non-dog owning counterparts.

Perhaps this effect is because sometimes when we can’t do for ourselves, we find a way to do for those we love. Dogs depend on us to make sure their daily exercise needs are met, reminding us of the joys and importance of an active lifestyle.

Walk time! There are very few gyms or personal trainers that can motivate us to keep moving as much as those big hopeful eyes and wagging tail at the front door. For older dogs, sometimes it’s you that needs to motivate them but you’re invested in doing so which has reciprocal rewards.

Studies have shown that higher activity levels reduce obesity levels, another major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. By getting us off the couch, our canine companions offer multiple benefits when it comes to a healthy heart.

If you are interested in dog ownership but worry that you will not be able to provide for a high energy young dog, consider adopting an older dog. Many such pooches end up in rescue shelters each year, often due to unforeseen tragedies such as a death in the family, move, or illness of the owners. Senior dogs offer a lot of benefits. They tend to have lower exercise needs, are less demanding in terms of training and socialization, and tend to be a less labor-intensive investment with the same benefits of loyal companionship.

Improved Stress Management

How we manage stress in our daily lives plays a critical role in heart health, according to the American Heart Association. Those who have loved a dog already know that we tend to turn to them in times of emotional stress for that feeling of comfort, acceptance, and sense that everything is going to be okay. Turns out, research has shown that this is more than just a “feeling” and is actually a physiological response to spending time with dogs.

The human-dog bond promotes stress-relieving hormones such as oxytocin while reducing stress-related hormones such as cortisol. Research has shown that this hormonal response goes both ways. When we spend time petting a dog, both the human and canine hormone levels change for the better. What a win-win!

Better Recovery Rates After a Coronary Event

Finally, if you or someone you know has recently suffered from a cardiovascular event and is currently in recovery, some time with a dog may actually improve recovery outcomes.

Research has posited two main theories for why outcomes such as health indicators and even survival outcomes improve for dog owners. One is that dog owners seem to be better at sticking to a recovery protocol after a coronary event. The other may be a combination of the other heart-healthy benefits already mentioned in this article.

Either way, spending time with a dog may not only brighten your day, it may even improve your heart health. Just one more great excuse to enjoy the company of a dog.

Not Sure if Dog Ownership Is Right for You?

It is important to realize that dog ownership can come with its own stressors and is certainly not right for everyone. Before you adopt, be sure you have the time, budget, and space to bring a dog into your life.

And, you don’t have to own a dog in order to experience the benefits. Here are a few ways to bring dogs into your life without the commitment of dog ownership:

· Offer to pet-sit a friend or family member’s dog for the weekend.

· Get involved with animal rescue organizations to spend time with dogs who can really use your moral support and attention.

· Consider fostering a dog on a temporary basis if you want to give dog ownership a try before making up your mind.

· Contact a therapy dog group in your area to see if you can arrange a weekly visit with a volunteer pooch who has a great temperament for some quiet cuddles and lap time.

Author Bio: Sharon is a professional writer and received her M.S. in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech and has worked as a professional dog trainer for over 10 years.

February is Pet Dental Hygiene Month

The oral health of our pets is often the most overlooked part of their everyday care, and yet, it’s one of the most important! It’s so easy to ignore signs of periodontal disease, like bad breath, but there are so many reasons why it’s important to stay on top of your pet’s oral health. Just like in humans, poor dental health in dogs and cats can lead to serious health problems. Think mouth abscesses, painful tooth loss, and infections that can spread throughout the body. So, while it might not seem like a big deal, keeping your dog or cat’s teeth clean and healthy is vital for their health! Here are some easy tips on just how to do that.

Chew Toys

Toys are an easy and effective way to keep your pet’s teeth clean. There are toys that are made specifically for cats and dogs, and most of them are specially designed for helping clean teeth. The act of chewing on the toy actually knocks tartar off the teeth. This makes for an easy solution as your pet probably already loves gnawing on chew toys.

Brushing

This activity is often not the favorite choice of most dogs and cats, but it is really one of the most effective ways to clean your pet’s teeth. This is not something that needs to be done daily, but the more often it’s done, the better. There are specially made toothpastes for dogs and cats that are safe, so don’t try to use human toothpaste. Start slowly at first, just to get them used to it. Before long, they’ll be accustomed to having their teeth brushed and you’ll be able to do it on a regular basis.

Tartar Control Treats

Another easy tactic for battling tartar and gum disease are treats that are specially designed to help keep teeth clean and healthy. They’re tasty and fun to eat for both dogs and cats and typically much more appreciated than brushing. Similarly to the chew toys, these special treats help remove tartar and build up from teeth as they chew. Make sure you read the label to ensure that they are designed for dental health.

Dental Cleanings

Of course, it’s always a good idea to have your pet’s teeth professionally examined by their veterinarian. They may suggest that a cleaning is needed, and it’s not a bad idea to have your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned every now and then. Out of all the tips we’ve mentioned, this may not be the cheapest option, but it’s surely the most thorough. Veterinarian offices are skilled at cleaning pet teeth and it’s one of the best ways to help maintain dental health. Make sure to discuss this option with your vet at your pet’s next checkup.

Maintaining your pet’s dental health is not always easy, but it’s important to start now and now wait until there are issues that must be addressed. If you try these easy tips, you’re sure to help keep those chompers in working order.

 

Protecting Paws During the Winter Months

Winter officially starts in just two days. Are you and your pet ready? The winter season can be just as brutal on your pets as it is on us – sometimes even worse! Paws are exposed to not only the elements but also to toxic chemicals that are used during the winter. The pads of paws can be susceptible to cracking, frostbite, dryness, and chemical burns from de-icing products. Taking a few simple precautions can greatly reduce the risk of injury or discomfort for your pooch.

First, start by making sure their paws are groomed. Trim excess hair around the pads of their paws. You can use clippers to make it easier – just make sure the fur is not longer than the pads. This will help snow and debris from getting stuck inside their paws. There is often a ton of salt and other de-icing products spread on sidewalks and roadways this time of year, so it’s almost certain that your pup will come in contact with some of it. Don’t forget to trim their nails. It’s just as important during the winter to keep their nails trimmed as it is during the summer. Nails that are too long cause lots of problems for your canine friend including discomfort and encourage more debris to get trapped between the pads of their paws.

Before you head outside for your walk, apply a thin layer of a protective balm on the pads of their paws. There are countless terrific products on the market, but make sure that the product you choose is specifically made for dogs. A couple great ones to choose from are Baely’s Paw Shield, and Musher’s Secret. You can find these products both online and in most pet stores.

Another great way to protect your dog’s feet is to invest in some dog booties. They vary in price and there are many different brands out there to choose from. They’re also easily found both online and in pet stores. Although some dogs take to booties right away, some dogs take a bit longer to get used to them so it’s important to give your little guy plenty of time to become accustomed to wearing them. It’s a good idea to start off by having them wear them for just a few minutes at a time, slowly increasing the time little by little until they’re comfortable. This will help ensure that when the time comes that they need to wear them for a walk, they’ll keep them on instead of trying to kick them off because they feel weird. Also, make sure that the boots fit your dog properly by checking the instructions from the manufacturer. You want them to be snug enough that they stay on, but certainly not too tight to cause discomfort or injury.

Don’t forget to take care of those paws after the walk is over! Their feet probably accumulated a lot of debris while you were on your walk if they weren’t wearing dog booties, so don’t forget to wipe their paws off to make sure there are not any salt or chemicals still stuck to their feet. Also, check between the pads of their feet to make sure the skin doesn’t look red or irritated. If they look especially dry, you can also apply a bit more of the paw balm just to moisturize. It also doesn’t hurt to give them a good brushing from head to toe, just to ensure that there isn’t any debris lodged in their fur as well. It never hurts to give your pooch’s coat a little extra love.

Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore – When You Should Go to the Vet

Many pet owners struggle to determine when it is necessary to take their pet in to see the vet and when it is not. Sometimes it is difficult to tell if what they’re experiencing is anything serious or if they’re just not feeling well. Going to the vet is not always cheap, and unfortunately, sometimes it can be a bit pricey to take your beloved furry friends in to get checked out. This can tend to make owners try to avoid taking their pets in to see the veterinarian. But, please, take care to not ignore some very important signs of your pet’s health. Really, if you ever see any troublesome or out of the ordinary behavior from your pet, the best bet is to take them in to be examined. But we’ve also compiled a list of few very dangerous signs that your pet could show if they’re sick or unwell.

Loss of Appetite:

Appetite can vary pet by pet, but if you see a sudden change in food interest, it’s important not to ignore it. If your pet looks otherwise normal, keep an eye on him for 24 hours to see if his appetite returns. If not, take him in to be seen right away. He could be suffering from some digestive distress or something even more serious. Underlying illnesses can often cause dogs and cats to lose interest in eating. If your pet also begins to appear to be feeling ill or very sick, take it as a very serious sign and get him to the vet as soon as possible.

Sudden Thirst:

Sudden thirst is often a sign that some serious things are going on inside your pet’s body. If you notice that they’re drinking a lot more water and asking to go outside or go to the litter box more frequently, they should definitely be seen by a vet. There are various conditions that could be causing this, like liver, kidney, or bladder issues. This can also sometimes occur after they’ve eaten something that doesn’t agree with them or they’ve come in contact with something poisonous.

Diarrhea or Vomiting:

Just as this can be serious for humans, this could mean something serious for your pet as well. If it goes on for more than a day, it’s probably a good idea to take them in and have them looked at. It could have been that something they ate simply upset their stomach, and your vet can help get everything back on track. Keep in mind, if your dog or cat is throwing up and having diarrhea often, such as multiple times an hour, it could be an emergency and they should be taken to the vet immediately. Fluid loss can get ugly quickly, so don’t take any chances.

Changes in Breathing:

Take any changes in breathing seriously. It is often a sign that something is not right. The respiratory systems of pets are delicate and things go south very quickly. If you notice any changes in the way they breathe, or they appear to be struggling, take them in right away. Time is of the essence.

 

 

Protect Your Pets During Independence Day Celebrations

While the Fourth of July brings fond traditions like picnics, barbecues, concerts, and fireworks, it isn’t such a fun holiday for the four-legged members of the family.

Photo from Friends of the GCARC via Facebook

Many animals are extremely frightened by the noise from firecrackers and can even be stressed by the sight of fireworks. This leads to a 30-60% increase in lost pets every year between July 4 and July 6. July 5th is typically the busiest day of the year in humane societies and shelters across the country as people try to find their lost and scared pets. But don’t forget that fireworks and firecrackers don’t just happen on July 4th. They are already happening as people build up to the big celebration.

So what can you do to make things less stressful for your pets?

  • Make a safe space for them in your home where they can retreat and hide but where they can’t easily escape. Even the most mild-mannered dog might panic and claw their way out of a crate or run through a glass window or a fence in their panicked state and can run away and be lost or hit by cars.
  • Playing calming music in the area can help block out some of the noise from outside and keeping curtains closed helps block out the flashes of light from fireworks.
  • If your dog or cat is pacing, cowering, hiding, or displaying nervous behavior, try to distract them with a favorite bone or toy but don’t distress them further.
  • Consider skipping leaving home to go to the big celebration and stay home with your pets to protect and comfort them during this traumatic time.
  • Above all else, make sure that if something does happen you have the best shot of getting your pet returned to you by following these suggestions:
    • Make sure your pets are wearing their collars and that they are secure and have up-to-date ID tags on them with your name and contact info readable.
    • Add a GPS tracker to your pet’s collar to make it easier to track and reunite with your pet if they should escape.
    • For extra security, get your pet microchipped. Pets are little magicians and can get out of their collars on the best of days much less when they are panicked or stressed by the sights and sounds of fireworks. Getting your pet microchipped gives an added layer of protection that if they escape and make it to a shelter, they can be scanned and reunited with you. Make sure your contact information for the microchip registration is up to date.

There’s a reason that July is considered “Pet Loss Prevention Month” and by using a few common sense tips you can keep your pets happier and safer during this and other holidays.

Tips for Grooming Your Cat at Home

Cats are known for being low maintenance and pretty self-sufficient in a lot of ways – grooming included! A lot of feline owners love the fact that they don’t usually have to groom cats as often as dogs. But, that doesn’t mean that every now and again you won’t have to give your cat a little extra TLC, especially if they’re of the long-haired variety. Just like dogs, making sure her coat is cared for keeps her fur and skin nice and healthy. Grooming also helps reduce hairballs and overall shedding around your house. Here are a few tips for keeping your cat looking and feeling like a million bucks.

It’s always a good idea to start as early as you can. If you have a kitten, it’s the perfect time to begin getting him or her accustomed to being brushed regularly. But even if you adopt your kitty as an adult, it’s still okay to work with them to get them used to being brushed. Start off slow, and don’t rush. Give them a little brush every now and then and soon they’ll start getting used to the sensation. Hopefully, it’ll become a bonding experience between you!

The type of brush you’ll need depends on how long kitty’s fur is. A short haired cat could use just about any pet brush or a rubber grooming mitt. Brushing can be done 1-2 times per week. Not only does it help remove dirt and debris from her fur, but it also helps stimulate blood flow to the skin, encourages a healthy coat, and minimizes shedding. If your cat has a longer coat, multiple brushings per week may be necessary to keep their fur free from tangles and debris that gets stuck in it. Find a wide tooth comb that’s made for long cat hair. The longer you wait between brushings, the more tangled, dirty, and matted their fur is likely to be, so try to do it regularly.

Nails and paws are also an important part of the grooming process. This step might be a little more tricky as most cats do not enjoy getting their nails clipped, but with most cats, it is possible to do this at home. A good way to get started is to get your cat used to having his feet touched. Gently play with your kitty’s toes as much as possible during times when the two of you are just hanging out together. If he’s taking a nap on your lap, touch his feet. Get him used to that so that he doesn’t automatically associate it with something unpleasant. When you’re ready to try clipping his nails, try holding him on your lap, keeping your arm wrapped around his middle, and be confident and sure in your movements to make him feel more at ease. If your cat is just not having it, try wrapping a big towel around him with only his head sticking out, keeping only one paw at a time exposed during the clipping process. This will not only restrict his movements but will also help with anxiety by keeping him more secure. Of course, there are some cats that just simply will not allow their owners to clip their nails. If you feel this is your cat, you can always take them to a professional groomer or your vet to have them do it for you.

Finally, don’t forget the ears! Every time you groom your cat, take a few extra minutes to examine their ears to make sure they look healthy and free of redness or excess wax build up. Regularly grooming your cat will not only help keep his skin and coat healthy but will also reinforce the bond between the two of you!