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How to Care for Your Long Haired Pet

Updated on May 24, 2020
Drei Law profile image

Lawz has been an animal advocate for more than 10 years. He has also worked in a few animal welfare organizations in the past.

Close-up of a rabbit.
Close-up of a rabbit.

Have you admired a long-haired animal such as a rabbit, dog, or cat?

These are lovely animals when well-groomed. However, when the hair of these animals becomes tangled and matted they present a particularly difficult challenge for pet owners.

Are you up to the daunting task of taking care of the daily grooming needs of these pets?

These animals need to be accustomed to being brushed from the earliest age.

In the beginning, a long-haired dog or cat will probably need a softer brush and an occasional treat to reward them for their patience.

Dogs

As a puppy matures, it can be groomed with stiffer or wire bristled brushes.

Remember that a long-haired dog is prone to ticks because they can hide more easily than on a shorthair.

You will want to use a comb and check for ticks before bathing the dog. Use a comb with rounded teeth.

If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers or a special tick removing tool. There are also topical and oral medications available for flea and tick prevention.

Once you have checked the dog for ticks, you may brush him with a stiff bristle or wire brush, then continue with bathing him.

You may wish to use an insecticidal or "flea and tick" shampoo. You should also place cotton balls in his ears to protect them.

You may wish to use a sponge to bathe him. Make sure you scrub every area of his body.

There are conditioners available which may help with your long-haired dog when it comes time to detangle his coat.

Make sure the conditioner is left on your dog for the recommended time period. Rinse your dog thoroughly so that he is free of shampoo and conditioner. When he has been rinsed, squeeze the excess water from his coat.

Whatever the dog, you need to make sure he is thoroughly dried before letting him out so that he does not become chilled.

You may wish to use a blow dryer on your long-haired dog following toweling. Brush him contrary to the "grain" of his coat with a sleek brush.

Cats

Cats with long hair, of course, present particular problems, since they bathe themselves.

I once had a long-haired cat who loved to be vacuumed! He was the only cat I've known who ran towards a vacuum cleaner rather than away from it.

I found this assisted a great deal with keeping him free of loose hair, and I imagine some fleas were sucked up the vacuum hose as well! Many cats do like to be combed or brushed.

If yours does not, perhaps special grooming gloves would be more to your animal's taste.

Most cats love to be petted and the grooming glove is perfect for those who run from the brush or combs.

The long-haired cat will need grooming on a daily basis. You do not need to be combing them continuously, but a minimum of five minutes a day is a good idea.

Most owners of long-haired cats recommend long-toothed combs or flea combs.

Hairballs, of course, are a troublesome issue for your long-haired cat. These occur when your cat licks itself, and they can cause problems in the animal's digestive tract.

There are products available such as treats with mineral oil which break up the hairball material so that the cat can pass it.

There are also mild tasting ointments that can be applied to the cat's paws to facilitate dispersing the hairball.

There are cat owners who bathe their cats. I have never tried this. If you are going to bathe a cat in water, remember that they must be trained to the bath from kittenhood.

Make the water very shallow and ease them into the process a week at a time until they are ready for the full bathing process.

Be sure you have a gentle shampoo. Spraying the cat is likely to panic the animal. Make sure the water is warm and pour the water from a small pitcher or cup.

Rabbits

Rabbits are quite like cats in that they bathe themselves.

They are quite prone to ear clogging and infections, so check their ears often.

They should be cleaned every couple of weeks with a swab.

They are also prone to hairballs, but in rabbits, this must be addressed by careful trimming.

It's very important not to try to give your rabbit a bath. They shock easily, and you will have to "spot clean" the bunny and brush him instead.

Help your bunny and yourself by trying to groom his coat daily. The long-haired rabbit requires careful combing with first a wide-toothed comb and then one with fine teeth to remove the lower matting.

Then go over the rabbit with a strong brush. However, you should not apply a metal brush to a rabbit as they can be scratched and hurt.

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Trimming the Long-haired Animal

When you are trimming a longhaired pet, you must remember that it's paramount to keep their eyes free to protect their vision.

Pets with hairy ears are especially prone to mites, fleas, and infection so these may need some trimming as well.

It is recommended to have your pet trimmed by a grooming professional.

A long-haired animal will need special trimming around his paws, nails, and hindquarters.

For actual trimming of nails, you may want to take him to the veterinarian for sedation if he is a "jumpy" animal.

Your long-haired animal can be especially beautiful, but keep in mind he'll be much happier if you follow these grooming suggestions. Be diligent!

© 2020 Lawz

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