Home Grooming Tips During COVID-19 from Janice and Diane

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Home Grooming Tips During COVID-19 from Janice and Diane

Dear Grooming clients, human and furry,

We hope that you and your families are safe and well. Since grooming is currently considered a non-essential service, we have put together some at-home tips that you can do to keep your furry friend comfortable while they wait for their next appointment. We hope these tips are helpful. If your pet is not being cooperative during the grooming process, try doing small amounts at a time and don't forget the treats. Food is a great motivator for many pets, even cats!

As we approach the day when we can see you all again, we will begin to schedule appointments based on which pets will be most in need in terms of their health concerns. Please be patient during this time. We promise that we will get every pet in for an appointment.

For now, stay safe and enjoy the time home with your furry friends.


Janice and Diane


Supplies Needed:

  • Slicker Brush: For long-haired dogs. This brush has short, bent pins which are used to remove the fuzzy undercoat. Get an appropriate size for your dog. Slicker brushes with longer pins are great for extra hairy coats. We also recommend using a metal comb to clean the slicker brush as removing the hair from the slicker brush by hand may cause scratches.

  • Curry Comb: For short-haired dogs and cats. This is a rubber brush that uses friction to grab and de-shed short coats.

  • Fine Tooth Metal Comb: For long-haired cats. This is a metal comb with a handle. This works best for cats with long hair.

  • Plastic Comb: Used to remove eye and butt “boogers”. A flea comb works well for this, but a normal comb would do as well.

  • Nail Clipper:  Size appropriate for your pet. At VCMC, we use the orange- or red-handled Millers Forge clippers for dogs. The red-handled is best for small-medium dogs and the orange is best for large breeds. 

  • Nail File: Used on dogs to smooth out the nail after clipping.

  • Styptic Powder: Used to stem bleeding if nails are clipped too short. Flour or cornstarch are great alternatives.

  • Shampoo: Choose one that is appropriate for your pet’s coat, skin, and eye sensitivity.

  • Coat Conditioner or Skin Remoisturizer: This is optional, but is great for pets with dry skin.

**Note for cat owners: the brushing technique described below works for dogs and cats, but the handling tips are specific for dogs. Cat skin tends to be more sensitive, so be careful while brushing to avoid "brush burn". Give your kitties rest periods if they are getting agitated. Remember, yummy treats can go a long way in making kitty more cooperative!


Start at the bottom and work your way to the top. Start at the rear and work your way to the front. Always follow the lay of the coat. This way, you are not brushing over unbrushed hair. 

Brushing the Legs

Brush one leg at a time in the above manner, supporting the limb as you do. Be careful to support tendons at the knee. I hold knees in place as I brush. Also, I do not shift weight from two legs to one without supporting the dogs' weight from underneath the belly. You can have a family member place an arm underneath your dog's belly to support weight for the rear legs. 

Brushing Furry Thighs

Again, brush the outside of the leg from the bottom to the top. Brush the rear of the leg, bottom to top. Brush the lower inside of the leg bottom to top.

Brushing the Main Body

Start at the lower rear flank, use short strokes. This area can be sensitive and have some knots if the hair is long. Brush close to the chest and slowly incorporate more hair to brush out. Work your way towards the neck, going around towards the front. Stay off the spine! 

Brushing the Head/Face

For hairy heads, start at the back of the neck and work your way up to the top of the head, taking a little bit more hair as you go. Use short strokes for extra hairy spots.

Holding one side of the face by the hair,  gently brush hair back away from the eyes. Proceed to sides of the face starting at the rear of the cheek toward the eyes. Hold one hand over the eye as you brush. Be mindful of your pet turning toward the brush pins and getting an eye in the way.

You can use your Plastic comb to remove eye boogers. Please find a way to keep these eye boogers off your dog's face at all times. You can use a cotton ball and a saline solution to soak them off if you have to. These boogers can scald the skin underneath. With allergy season on top of no grooming, this is the main area of my concern. 

Brushing Furry Beards

Holding one side of the beard in your hand, brush the other side, gently taking a little more hair at a time, back to front. Check the lip line for food debris. Gently check the lower lip fold for infection. 

Brushing Furry Chests

Start from the bottom of the ‘ruff’ (hairy chest) and work your way up.

Brushing Tails

The tail is an extension of the spine. Handle carefully when lifting. Have someone put their arm under the dog's belly area to hold them up while you are working this area. Hold the tail firm as you brush small areas at a time. Here is where you can check for butt boogers and have your plastic comb ready. Your dog will probably try to sit down when you do this.

Brushing Ears

Hold the ear firmly to brush from the bottom to the top. You don't want to pull the dog around while doing this. You just want to brush through the hair without tugging. You can clean the outer ear with Witch Hazel if needed. I pull the inside hair out of the ears using an ear powder for dogs. This helps grip the greasy ear hair. Again, watch your pets eyes while brushing. They might suddenly turn toward the brush and get poked in the eye. Use your hand that is holding the ear steady to block the eye.

Cutting Nails

Remember to have your styptic powder, flour, or cornstarch ready in case of accidental clipping of the quick!0508430001586650086.jpg

Dogs: Put the foot in a natural running position. If your dog has clear nails, you can safely snip that section off before getting near the vein in the nail. Don't forget to file what you cut to avoid you or your pet getting scratched by the sharp edges of the nail. Use short strokes on the nail with the file. Don't twist the foot as you do this. Hold the foot steady. If your dog's nails are black, you could have trouble seeing where to safely cut. Cut off very small portions at a time or just use the nail file. Keep the foot steady in a running position. File downward toward the floor. 

Cats: Hold the paw in your hand and gently squeeze the knuckle joints to extend the claws. Use the clippers to cut off the ends of the nail but be careful to avoid the vein inside the nail. 

If you do make a nail bleed, press some styptic powder into the bleeding nail and hold. Be aware these powders are made with iron and can stain fabrics. Flour and cornstarch can be used as an alternative to styptic powder.

Remember to go slow! If your pet is not cooperative, it is better to stop and try again another time than to struggle and accidentally cut the quick. Cutting the quick can be painful and may make your pet more resistant to your attempts in the future.


Always brush out using the above instructions first!!  You want to remove as much undercoat as possible before bathing to prevent matting at the skin level. Then, dilute shampoo and apply with a washcloth or clean sponge . Wash the face last and rinse first. Shampoo can burn their eyes so avoid contact with the eyes.  I like to brush the shampoo into the coat. Rinse and apply conditioner or remoisturizer and rinse out. You can wrap your little one in a towel and carry around to dry for a bit. Blow dry on medium heat, keeping the dryer nozzle in motion to prevent burning the skin.

If you have any questions, please call the Veterinary Center at 973-887-0522. 

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