Basic Grooming

Dr. Mark Stickney, a clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, was recently mentioned in the article, “Extreme Groomers Give Dogs Dazzle,” regarding creative and eccentric grooming for dogs. Everything from Mohawks, flower designs and temporary paint tattoos are created on the animal for “bonding” between a person and their pooch. Harmless yet extravagant, this extreme grooming fad is becoming increasingly popular among dog owners. While Dr. Stickney admits in the article that this type of grooming is not for him, he does agree that you should always be sure to keep up with your pets’ basic grooming.

“Just bathe them whenever they need a bath,” said Stickney. “You don’t want to give them a bath more than once a week unless told to do so by your veterinarian for some sort of skin condition, any more frequently than that will only serve to dry out their skin.”

If you have an unruly pooch that doesn’t enjoy getting wet, then some positive reinforcement should usually do the trick. “One way to encourage them is to use a positive reinforcement, such as a treat, whenever you put them in a situation where they’re going to get their face or paws wet,” said Stickney. “Also, don’t go overboard the first couple of times you bathe them. Easing them into the routine by only putting them in toe deep in the tub is a great way to start.”

Giving your cat a bath can provide a whole new meaning to the word unpleasant. Lucky for us feline lovers, cats do a good enough job of grooming themselves without our intervention. “Unless your cat is just filthy, it’s best not to struggle with routinely cleaning them,” said Stickney. “If they do need to be cleaned, the easiest way to do so would be to buy a waterless shampoo that you can simply rub into their skin and then rub out.”

As far as which shampoo to use, any type that is formulated especially for animals should work just fine.  “Assuming that your pet has healthy skin, you’ll want to use a shampoo specifically formulated for dogs or cats, “said Stickney. “Human shampoos and conditioners have pH levels that can harm your pets’ skin and cause irritation.”

If, however, your pet has a certain skin condition or irregularity, then consulting your veterinarian about which shampoo to use would be your safest bet. “One thing that you see commonly with animals that have a lot of loose skin and skin folds is that they will get yeast or bacterial infections in those folds,” said Stickney. “In that case, you’ll want to consult with your veterinarian, as they will probably recommend bathing them more frequently and with some type of medicated shampoo.”

While it may not be necessary to sculpt your dog’s fur into exotic jungle scenes, as mentioned in the “Extreme Groomers” article, basic grooming and upkeep is vital to your pet’s health and happiness.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at Suggestions for future topics may be directed to

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