Basic Coat Care for Cats and Dogs

A well-maintained coat is important for overall pet health. Read our tips for basic coat care for cats and dogs.

Regular grooming is important for pet health. By: yoppy

Proper grooming of your cat or dog is essential and not just for keeping your pet clean.

Grooming is important for their overall health and happiness. Your pet will be more energetic and comfortable if his coat is free of dirt, matting, and excess hair. Gathered below are some key tips for basic coat care for cats and dogs.


Although your cat will bathe himself and is not likely to need a bath, there may be times you’ll want to give him a bath yourself.

Take these steps when you bathe your kitty:

  • Give him his first when he is very young.
  • Your cat’s demeanor will determine if you will be able to bathe him or if you’ll need the help of a professional. If he is resistant, it is better for both of you if you let him take care of himself.
  • If your cat allows you to bathe him, you’ll want to trim the nails first. If cats do get upset they can easily scratch you, so limiting the possibility of injury here is important.
  • Use only shampoo designed for cats and be sure to rinse well so that there won’t be any lingering residue to irritate their sensitive skin.
  • Towel dry your cat and let him relax in a warm, comfortable place.

Dogs, on the other hand, need regular bathing.

  • A dog that is mainly indoors should have a bath at least once a month, and more frequently if needed.
  • A dog that spends a lot of time outdoors should be monitored closely to decide when he needs a bath.
  • Use only a shampoo that is made for dogs, because shampoo made for humans can dry out his skin and cause irritation.
  • Start at the head and work downward to the tail, and be sure to get the feet clean.
  • Be sure to rinse well and avoid getting any shampoo into the eyes. Using a sprayer is the easiest way to rinse, but try not to spray the face.


Brushing is the other essential step in maintaining a healthy coat for your furry friend. Pets with longer hair will require frequent grooming with specific tools, but any pet will benefit from a thorough nose to tail brushing at least weekly.

When you do so, you are distributing the oils that are produced naturally in the hair follicles throughout the coat. This is important for preventing the coat from becoming dry, and it also helps to repel dirt and environmental toxins. This will make the coat more shiny and healthy appearing. Get the right brush for your pet’s hair for best results.

Frequent grooming will remove dead coat and keep the rest from matting up. While short-haired dogs and cats typically don’t have this problem, pets with long hair can get tangles and mats easily. These can worsen, resulting in clumps of matted hair. This is both uncomfortable and unhealthy for your pet. Regular brushing will eliminate tangles before they cause matting. Brushing is also important for cats because it removes loose hair.

This video shows a Himalayan named Lou whose coat had been neglected and matted so badly he had to be shaved:

If you don’t brush and remove the loose hair, a cat will ingest it when self-grooming. This results in balls of hair developing in the stomach which your cat may vomit up.

Hairballs are unpleasant for your cat, and they aren’t much fun for you when you come across one that has been vomited up on your floor. They can also cause dangerous blockages.

Tips For Brushing

If you begin brushing your pet when young, it will become a part of your regular routine. Your pet will enjoy the brushing as a time for the two of you to bond.

Make sure you brush your pet when you and your pet are both relaxed. There are multiple types of brushes available; choose one that is best for the type of hair your pet has. A standard bristle brush works on pets that have short to medium-length hair.

Pets with longer or curly hair benefit most from a wire pin brush or a slicker brush. Always brush your pet’s hair in the direction that the hair grows in to prevent tangling. Start at your cat or dog’s head and work your way down the body to the tail. Make sure you brush the legs and feet as well. As you are brushing, examine your pet for ticks and fleas to ensure a healthy pet with a beautiful coat.

Jet Perreault

View posts by Jet Perreault
Jet Perreault, a professional dog groomer of 18 years, graduated from Michigan State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. She has spent time on the dog show circuit, working groomer trade shows, and managing grooming salons and pet shops.

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