Pets Natural Grooming and Skin Care. Nobody ever gives a wolf or a bobcat a bath, so why should we have to groom our pets? Here’s why. A wild animal moves from place to place, which allows it to get away from a colony of parasites such as fleas. A pet, on the other hand, keeps getting reinfested with these critters from the eggs dropped in its quarters.

Pets Natural Grooming and Skin Care

•Many domestic animals, especially dogs, are bred to have abnormally long, curly, or very fine hair that is too difficult to clean with just tongues, paws, and teeth.

•Dirt often contains environmental toxins: It’s better if you remove debris from your pet’s coat than if he licks it off and swallows it.

In short, we have changed the physical structure and environment of our animals, so it’s up to us to help care for their skin and coats.
Daily brushing is important for long-haired pets. Use a special “slicker” pet brush made for picking up hair. Short-haired animals may need brushing less often. A flea comb is another excellent tool for regular grooming.

Frequent brushing and combing stimulate hair and skin health, bringing normal secretions from oil glands onto the skin and discouraging fleas. They also keep mats from building up and help to remove burrs and other plant debris. While brushing, especially after outdoor time, check the feet, ears, eyes, and vagina or penis sheath to detect and remove foxtails and other plant stickers before they penetrate the skin and require removal by your veterinarian.

If you live in a hot climate, have your dog’s coat thinned by a professional groomer.

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Bathing is one of the safest and most effective ways to immediately remove fleas, which are killed by the soap and water, but you must also attend to the living quarters (see below). Don’t bathe your pets too often, however, because it can dry the skin. Unless your adult dog is unusually dirty, a bath every month or two is plenty. In the case of a bad flea infestation, skin problems, or discharges, however, you may want to bathe animals weekly. If so, use a gentle shampoo that will not strip all the natural oils from the hair.

Cats don’t need frequent bathing, since they generally do a good job of it by themselves, plus most resist the process. But if your cat has problems with bad skin or fleas, you can bathe him monthly; otherwise, once or twice a year is adequate.

Shampoo with a natural shampoo bar, which will suds up quickly and work well. This will help save the planet and your pet from the toxic effects of plastic as well as the preservatives that must be added to liquid shampoos to prevent bacterial and mold growth. (Search “nontoxic” or “organic shampoo bar.”) You can use human shampoos you already have on hand, but don’t use hair conditioners, sulfur-tar shampoos, shampoos containing dandruff suppressors, or any other chemical medication. Think about the fact that your pet licks his fur and also has a very sensitive nose.

If fleas are a problem and you need to take action, first try a natural pet shampoo containing flea- and insect-repellent herbs. Some contain d-limonene, a natural extract from citrus fruits that will kill fleas with minimal side effects, suitable for use with dogs. Or you can make your own insect-repellent shampoo by adding a few drops of essential oil of pennyroyal or eucalyptus to a bottle of natural shampoo or Castile soap.

Use pet shampoos with synthetic insecticides only if the natural flea control program, below, fails, and they really seem necessary to reduce flea problems causing suffering for your animal or family.

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Give a bath, realizing that animals often resist bathing. Be gentle and speak in soft, reassuring tones throughout the experience. Remove the collar and lower your pet into a laundry tub, bathtub, or sink as you gradually fill it with comfortably lukewarm water. Wet and lather up her neck first, to trap any fleas that might try to escape toward your pet’s head.

Shampoo her entire body and rinse lightly, using either a spray attachment or a container of lukewarm water. Then shampoo a second time, working the lather well into her skin. Let it stay on for 5 minutes or as long as she will allow. This ensures the most complete treatment of fleas. Meanwhile, comb out and drown any critters making their way toward high ground.

Rinse her thoroughly. It’s nice to follow up with a vinegar-water rinse (1 tablespoon white vinegar to 1 pint warm water). It removes soap residue and helps prevent dandruff. Pour on the solution, rubbing throughout the fur. Then rinse again with plain water.
At this point you might like to try this homemade rosemary rinse used by Anitra Frazier, author of The New Natural Cat.4 It’s an excellent conditioner that promotes a glossy coat and helps repel fleas.

Add 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1 tablespoon fresh) to 1 pint boiling water. Combine and steep for 10 minutes, covered. Strain and cool to body temperature. Pour it over your pet after the final rinse. Rub in and towel dry without further rinsing.
When you are all done, use several towels to blot off excess water. Then let her do what comes naturally, shaking and licking off more of the water. Make sure she has a warm place to dry off.

For pets that just won’t put up with water baths, try this simple dry shampoo.

Spread ½ cup to 1 cup bran, oatmeal, or cornmeal on a baking sheet. Put the oven on low (200°F) for 5 minutes to warm the grain. Removing a little at a time, so that the rest stays warm but not too hot, rub the grain into the fur with a towel. Concentrate on the greasy, dirty areas. Then brush these areas thoroughly to get the grain out.

Finally, here’s a spot remover that will help you get rid of grease spots in your pet’s fur between baths, especially those spots that cats get on their heads from prowling under cars. Rub a few drops of Murphy Oil Soap and a small amount of warm water onto the greasy spots. Then rinse thoroughly with warm water.