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Ohio 4-H Youth Development

Ohio State University Extension


PetPALS Grooming

Good Grooming is a Must!

Pets must be clean and well-groomed when they visit! 4-H members need to groom and clean their pets before they take them on a 4-H PetPALS visit. Grooming may include bathing, depending on the cleanliness of the pet. It may not be practical to bathe a pet before every visit, and frequent bathing may not be healthy for the pet. Also, check with the facility to know their bathing policy, and use of shampoos and coat conditioners.  Scented or perfumed shampoos or sprays should not be used as the odor may bother some people. Bathing a pet too close to visiting may cause additional shedding, which is undesirable during a visit. Do not apply topical flea and tick treatments 24 hours prior to visiting.

Brush or comb the animal’s coat to make sure that it is dirt free. There should not be any tangles, mats, burs or other debris in the coat. Always check the coat for external parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mites. Pets cannot have any external parasites on them when visiting! 

Trim the pet’s nails or claws and file any rough edges. The tips of the nails must be smooth so they do not scratch someone’s skin, snag clothing, or catch on carpeting when walking. Also, trim excess hair around the pads of the pet’s feet. This will help keep him from tracking in extra dirt, and make his paws easier to wipe off dirt or dry.

Clean all eye matter from the pet’s eyes. Make sure the ears are clean and do not have an odor.

Check your pet’s breath, and if it smells bad, brush his teeth with a toothpaste approved for your pet.

One goal of this 4-H project is for young people and their animals to form a closer bond. Grooming helps achieve this goal by providing one way for the 4-H member to spend time with the pet. This time spent needs to be enjoyable for both the youth and the pet. Grooming also allows close inspection of every square inch of the pet.

In addition to having a well-groomed and clean animal, be sure the pet’s collar or harness, leash, brush, and toys are clean. Also, clean and or disinfect any carrying cages, pet beds, baskets, liners, towels, and other items brought on the visit.