Grooming The Tail and Genital Area

Taking care of your pet regularly involves grooming the tail, genital area, and expressing their anal glands. Learn how to groom these areas safely.

It might be a delicate subject, but your pet needs you to care for 'that' end regularly. Long haired pets can be severely impacted by clinging body wastes and long hair covering body orifices. This is a very important part of grooming. The more diligent you are in caring for the tail area and genital region, the cleaner you can keep your pet and the easier maintenance will be.

Grooming the Tail

The tail can be the site of hot spots and injuries, so examine when grooming, particularly at the base. Check all along the tail for signs of injury. Some dogs can damage their tails just by hitting them against objects. Keep in mind that the tail is an extension of the spinal cord and take care when handling.

Tails can get matted easily, and be careful when removing them -- they are quite sensitive. Source: Unidos Para Los Animales

Many pets have thicker, denser hair on the tail, which can be difficult to comb or brush through. Also, if your pet is in the habit of prowling dense brush, the tail can get full of burrs, dirt and other materials. Detangling spray can help if the tail is particularly difficult. Use gentle combing motions and go through one section at a time.

If you need to cut mats out of the tail, go carefully. The tail can be quite sensitive. Use the Tiny Trim to snip out particularly difficult mats. Use the fine tooth comb to tease fur loose from a stubborn mat or serve as a barrier between scissors and sensitive skin if you have to clip.

Trim the parts of the tail close to the anus, to avoid bodily wastes adhering to skin and coat. If you prefer a fan or long fringe on the tail, cut to follow the tail's natural curve.

Grooming The Genital and Anal Area

The sexual organs are sensitive, so take some care when grooming around them. It is very important to trim away hair that would otherwise get coated with bodily wastes.

Dog's anus with illustrated circles showing where anal glands are.

For male dogs, trim an extra inch or three in front of the penis, as the urine can hit long fringes and contribute to skin rashes and infection. Female dogs should have hair clipped around the vulva. Male and female long haired cats will benefit from having their hair clipped completely away from their sexual organs and anal area.

Anal glands can be an issue for some dogs and cats. Clipping the hair around the anus will aid in keeping this area clean and to make expressing the anal glands easier. They are located at 4 and 8 o'clock, just beside the anus. Use rubber gloves and paper towels to gently express the contents. Warning: this is an extremely foul-smelling procedure. Use a baby wipe or damp washcloth to clean up after.

This is the same procedure for dogs and cats. Cats can be more difficult due to their smaller size and the difficulty of finding the glands to express them properly. If your pet is having difficulties and you cannot express the anal glands adequately, consult your veterinarian.

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Julie MacTire is a writer and educator devoted to the world of dogs. She also writes a blog ( about her adventures with her Shiba Inu, Tierce, and is a supporter of many pet welfare organizations.

References & Resources

Grooming, Stress-Free

Scaredy Cut is the gentle clipper designed for grooming sensitive pets.
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