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Pet Health
Grooming

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General Grooming of Small Animals

Grooming plays a very important part in caring for your pet. The grooming requirements vary from pet to pet, some requiring daily brushing and combing others less often.

You should get your small animal accustomed to being handled and groomed from a very early age. Start grooming for a short period of time, gradually building up the amount of time you spend until your pet is quite happy to sit for you to brush it. You can also check the skin, by parting the hair, to see if your pet has any red, sore or inflamed areas that may require treatment. Also remember to check the eyes, ears, mouth, nose, feet and nails when handling your pet.

When checking the teeth and nails of your pet make sure they are not too long and making your pet uncomfortable. If the teeth are too long then the pet may go off its food and starve. They may even get abscesses where the teeth pierce through the skin, and ulcers in the mouth. If your pet doesn't exercise on a hard surface its nails may become overgrown. You should approach your veterinary surgeon to clip both the teeth and nails for you.

Hamsters

These small animals wash themselves, much in the same way a cat does. They will lick their feet and paws and check through their coats. They do not need to be bathed at all. There are no real grooming requirements for hamsters. The long haired varieties will sometimes need to have the shavings from their bedding removed from the coat. This can be done easily using your fingers or by using an old soft toothbrush. Some varieties of hamsters prefer a sand bath. The sand used for this can be bought specially for these small animals. The hamster will roll in the sand to remove any impurities from the coat.

Guinea pigs

Guinea pigs only need to be bathed if they are being shown or if they are dirty and smelly as a result of being ill. They may need a bath for medical reasons such as skin mites. If they have these mites then a special treatment for the skin may be necessary and the only way to apply this is to give a bath. Guinea pigs do however enjoy being brushed using a comb or brush. You may want to use a human babies brush and comb as these are soft and less likely to cause any damage to the skin. The long haired varieties of guinea pigs will require daily grooming, whereas the short haired varieties will require much less grooming, maybe even on a weekly basis.

Rabbits

Rabbits should not need to be bathed. They do enjoy being brushed, particularly along their backs. Rabbits will groom themselves like cats, they like to be clean. However if they ingest too much of the dead hair they can become very ill. The ingested hair forms a hairball which blocks the stomach. Unlike other animals the rabbit cannot vomit, so you will need to keep an eye on its grooming habits, especially when it is moulting or nesting. Moulting can take place over a period of a few days or weeks, it will vary from rabbit to rabbit. You can help at this stage by pulling the hair out using your fingers, the hair will be sitting on the coat in small clumps so it will not hurt to do this. If your rabbit is matted, as happens with the long haired breeds, do not use scissors to remove it. A rabbits skin is paper thin and therefore very easily damaged.

In all small animals if they are old or overweight grooming may become difficult for them to do themselves. They do like to be clean so try and set up a grooming routine and stick to it throughout your pet's life.

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