How often should you groom your pet?
When – and how – to groom your pet can often be tricky to work out. Even within the same species, different breeds need different things, it can be hard to know what to do to.
Some pets shouldn’t be bathed, others might need the occasional wash, whereas others (like cats!) will need to be kept as far away from a bath as possible. As long as you know what you need to do to groom your pet and have the right tools, you should be fine!
Follow our advice on grooming for different types of pets.
It’s important to research the grooming needs of the specific breed of dog you have as they vary depending on coat length and texture. Check with your vet or a professional groomer if you're not sure.
- Long haired breeds or those with a texture of coat prone to matting (e.g. Bearded Collies, Lhasa Apsos and long-haired Yorkshire Terriers) will need daily brushing to keep their coat healthy. Some breeds also need their coats trimmed or undercoats stripped around four to six times a year – many people prefer to get a professional groomer to do this.
- Medium haired breeds (e.g. Spitz breeds, some spaniels and German Shepherds) will need brushing a few times a week to remove the dead hairs. Depending on the breed, you may also get their coat trimmed or stripped a couple of times a year.
- Short haired breeds (e.g. Staffies, Labradors and English Bull Terriers) will only need brushing once a week. They don’t usually need regular haircuts, though certain breeds may still need their undercoat to be stripped away.
- Dogs usually wear their nails down naturally, but some may need them clipped regularly, especially if they don’t walk much on tarmac, have very bowed legs, or have reduced mobility due to injuries or arthritis. You can buy pet nail clippers and do this yourself at home.
- Make sure you purchase the right comb or brush for your dog’s fur. Bristle brushes are a good option for all dogs, but the longer the coat the more spaced out the bristles will need to be. If you’re not sure what’s most suitable, ask your vet or groomer.
- It’s usually okay to bathe your dog if they get mucky or roll in something smelly. For mud you may be able to rinse them in warm water. If your dog needs to be washed at home, make sure you get a pet-safe shampoo for them. Check with your vet first if your dog has a skin condition to make sure the shampoo will be suitable.
How often should you groom your cat?
- Cats don’t need to be bathed unless they’ve rolled in something potentially harmful.
- As long as you give them a good scratching post, healthy cats will naturally keep their claws a good length. You shouldn’t need to trim them. Some people prefer to cut the sharp ends off for comfort though, and cats with reduced mobility or sore paws for another reason might not scratch enough to remove old claws and wear them down. Check your cat’s paws weekly and trim them if you notice the nails are getting long enough to start touching their pads. You can buy cat nail clippers from a pet shop or vet (or if you can’t find them, you can use ones designed for a small dog).
- Longer haired breeds need extra grooming – try to comb them a few times a week. Remember to get a cat-safe brush or grooming glove and make sure you give them time to get used to it. Avoid creating static as this will put cats off being groomed.
- Cats with medium or shorter coats may only need an extra brush once or twice a week. Again, give them time to get used to it as they might not appreciate it at first.
- As long as you feed your cat a balanced diet, their coat should stay shiny and healthy. If your cat’s coat is becoming unkempt, take them to the vet as this could be an early sign of illness.
How often should you groom your rabbit?
- Long haired breeds (e.g. Angoras) will need daily brushing to make sure their fur doesn’t get matted.
- Medium to short haired rabbits will only need brushing once or twice a week to make sure their fur is in good condition.
- You won’t need to wash you rabbits unless they are particularly dirty. Rabbits should never be put in a bath of water, as this can send them into shock – instead use a damp cloth and dry them thoroughly after getting them wet. Luckily by nature rabbits are very clean animals, so for the most part will take care of grooming themselves!
- Gently and carefully trim and remove any matts in their fur – especially around their feet. Take them to the vet if you notice matts forming regularly as they could be a sign of a problem.
- You may need to clip your rabbit’s nails occasionally. You can buy rabbit nail clippers from pet shops (or cat ones will work in a pinch). Check your rabbit’s nails weekly for signs they are getting too long.
Our top tips for pet grooming
- Get the right tools for your pet. You can go to your local pet supply shop and find the brushes, combs and clippers that are appropriate for your pet. Ask your vet if you’re not sure what’s best.
- Don’t use human nail clippers on pets. Our pet’s claws are rounded, so they need special clippers for this.
- Always check your pet’s skin for parasites. Ticks can be a common problem for pets, so check them regularly. Always give them regular flea treatment as advised by your vet to avoid problems with these – you might not spot them because fleas live mostly in the home rather than on the pet.
- If you are worried about your pet, take them to the vet. If you notice a change in their skin or coat, that could be a sign something more serious is going on.
- Remember that pets are more likely to shed when they’re “changing coats” between seasons, so they may need extra grooming around these times.
- Grooming can be a great way to bond with your pet but take it slow if they aren’t used to it.
- Check the outside of your pet’s ears regularly to make sure they are clean and clear from any nasties. If they start to show unusual dirt or get smelly or itchy, get your pet checked by your vet before using any ear cleaners that go inside the ear.
Itchy and allergic pets
Skin problems are really common in pets – in fact, it’s the most common reason that pets need to see a vet.
Fleas are a common cause of itching and skin problems in pets. Read our advice on preventing fleas help keep your pet comfortable and flea-free.