Along with the meaning of the terms social distancing and shelter in place, people across America have learned what essential and nonessential business are in relation to everyday life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The essential category does not include grooming salons, as pet owners have discovered. However, there is plenty they can do for their animals to keep them looking good that will also make things a little easier for groomers once the world gets back to normal.

Thanks to tips from my resources as well as my friend, professional groomer Liz Legas from Mountain Top, I have collected some advice to keep your pets looking and smelling their best until we are able to resume our normal activities.

  1. Take care of yourself and follow all safety precautions. Your groomer wants you and your pets to be able to come back when the crisis is over. Be sure to follow all local and federal guidelines to help prevent the spread to help keep everyone safe. Wash your hands, social distance, and stay home!
  2. Keep your pets brushed, combed and as tangle-free as possible. Your groomer will be thrilled to not have to clip your pet any shorter than necessary when they can finally get back to work. A little bit of work at home will go a long way for both your groomer and your pet.
  3. Purchase gift certificates or prepay for future groomings. Many salons are the owner and staff’s sole income. Your support during this crisis will help them to buy groceries for their families and pay their bills. This will also help ensure that they won’t have to close down and you won’t have to find a new groomer. Our goal during the pandemic is to support the small businesses that we have come to rely on.


Tips and recommendations

Here are some easy, do-it-yourself grooming tips and equipment recommendations.

  1. Brush and comb your pet weekly. A Slicker brush is best for most types of coats. A large pin brush in a soft version is perfect for regular brushing and less likely to scrape the skin.
    • If your dog/cat has long hair and an undercoat, it is important that you get down to the skin. Do a small section at a time, and then run the comb through to check for any mats. Your dog or cat will certainly become restless if you have long sessions of brushing, and you expect them to lie still throughout. Concentrate on one section at a time each evening, after work while you are relaxing and watching TV. At week’s end, you will be ready to start over again. Be mindful of areas such as behind the ears or under the armpits. Do not pull or yank mats out as this obviously results in a painful experience and very annoyed animal. Gently work the mat out with your fingers, comb, or a hem ripper. If you are compelled to cut a mat out with scissors, place your comb against the pet’s skin, just under the mat. This will prevent you from injuring the pet. A metal comb will work best, but you can use a plastic one if that is all you have available.
  2. While brushing lightly, mist the coat with a conditioning spray. Keeping the coat slightly moist while brushing and combing helps to prevent damage. Conditioning sprays are available premixed or concentrated at most pet supply outlets. In a pinch, you can mix a tiny amount of human conditioner with water in a spray bottle or just use water.
  3. Nail trimming. Many pet owners are nervous about trimming their pet’s nails. You only want to cut the tip of the nails to avoid cutting the quick, which will result in pain/bleeding. Obviously, nail cutting is easier to do with a partner who can hold the pet and keep it otherwise occupied with a tasty treat. Remember again that you are cutting only the tip, the little hooked part of the nail at the very end. Should you accidentally cut the quick, some flour or corn starch will stop the blood flow and result in it clotting. Just put some on your finger and hold against the nail (while you sing Happy Birthday, twice!). If you are worried about attempting to cut your dog’s nails, take your pup for walks on paved surfaces. It will help to wear down the nails, and the exercise will be good for you both. Just remember, social distance!
  4. Keep your pet as clean as possible. You don’t necessarily have to bathe, but wipe their feet down to prevent mud from caking between toes and pads. Otherwise, once it dries and hardens, it can be very uncomfortable. Make sure their bottoms are clean by using a damp paper towel to wipe anything away. Wipe their eyes out daily, especially for short-nosed dogs. Use a warm washcloth to wipe any discharge. When you are bathing your dog, always use a dog shampoo. A dog’s PH is not the same as a human’s, and therefore people shampoo would be too drying for a dog’s coat and skin.


A few words on cats

Bathing a cat can be very challenging, unless you have a cat like my Monet, who LOVES water. I must lock her out of the bathroom to prevent her from jumping into the sink when I am brushing my teeth, or to keep her out of the shower, where I often trip on her! Fortunately, our self-cleaning house cats keep themselves tidy and should do fine during the pandemic.


Everyday handling makes life easier

There is no time better than now to work on handling your pet and teaching them to be tolerant and accepting of things such as touching their feet, brushing their teeth, etc. This personal hygiene is an integral part of their overall health and well-being, and as their caregivers we must maintain this care throughout their lifetimes.

If you start handling when your pet is very young, you can introduce all of these things slowly and gently. They will quickly learn to accept, relax, and trust. It is not impossible to teach an older animal, but it will no doubt take more time and patience.

Oftentimes, a rescue pet has had little human interaction and socialization, so building a bond with your new pet would be the first step before introducing other life challenges such as grooming.

Your pets will thank you for following this advice on keeping them clean and healthy.

I hope readers are well and staying safe during these difficult times. I have found social media and telephone to be an effective way to communicate with family/friends and help to combat loneliness. But, of course, my animals are my primary source of companionship and comfort. If you have a story you would like to share about your pet during you self-isolation, please contact me.

Keep an adequate supply of pet food and pet medication on hand so you can avoid leaving your home for longer periods. Remember that our pets are very intuitive of our moods, so if our stress level is high, so is theirs. Keep calm and carry on. OK, I am scared too. You are not alone! Love to all.

Dog bless.