Grooming Your Dog

 

It makes no difference whether you take the do-it-yourself approach or leave it to a professional grooming involves the same task. Besides making you furry buddy look their best some aspects of grooming can help ensure that they feel their best too. Read the tips below to better understand your pets grooming needs.

Coat Care

brushed by Sharkey, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Sharkey

The texture and length of your dogs coat will largely dictate the type and frequency of grooming they require. Coat care consists of combing and bushing, bathing and trimming for some breeds.

Regular brushing helps to prevent tangles, reduce shedding and distribute naturally produced protective oils throughout the coat. Dogs with a short smooth coat like beagles should be brushed once a week. Dogs with a short dense coat like the retrievers need brushing several times a week and dogs with a long coat should be brushed daily.

Seasonal bathing every three months or so is the usually recommended schedule. Before bathing make sure to vigorously brush your dog to loosen dirt, dead skin and shed hair. When bathing be sure to use a shampoo specifically designed for dogs taking special care around the eyes, ears and nose. Cleaning these areas with a damp cloth and avoiding spraying the head and face area will go a long way in making your dog comfortable and manageable during bathing. Placing toys in the bath water also helps by giving the dog something to concentrate on rather than what you are doing. Be sure to rinse your dog well when through to avoid irritation that may be caused by residual shampoo.

After bathing be sure to dry your dog thoroughly paying special attention to the ears and any folds in the skin on breeds like the pug and shar-pei.

More frequent baths may occasionally be needed to deal with odor or flea problems but excessive bathing should be avoided as it can dry the skin and coat as well as potentially irritating sensitive areas. A coat conditioner available for dogs should follow extra baths.

Providing a calm environment and heaping on the praise while performing any grooming task will help your dog tolerate if not enjoy the experience.

Supplies

  • Brushes
  • Shedding tools
  • Combs
  • Shampoo and conditioner

Nail Care

Active dogs that spend time on hard surfaces can require little to no extra nail care as their nails wear naturally. House kept and inactive pets may require trimming every month or more.

IMG_0588 by raybdbomb, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  raybdbomb

Many owners are reluctant to trim their dog's nails out of fear of hurting their pet. However, overgrown nails can result in walking difficulties, torn or damaged nails and scratched floors.

This is a legitimate concern because at the base of each nail is a collection of blood vessels and nerves called the quick. Cutting into the quick is painful to the dog and can result in considerable bleeding.

There are rotary trimmers on the market that grind the nail rather than cutting like the traditional scissor or guillotine type clippers. This lessens the chance of damaging the quick but takes considerably longer.

Dogs are naturally uncomfortable having their paws handled during nail care. Starting nail care early and gradually getting your pet used to the experience by handling their paws while offering soothing praise and treats can make the whole process less stressful for both you and your dog.

A lot of owners leave nail care to the professionals. Having a groomer trim the dog's nails is relatively inexpensive and has the added bonus of having the dog associate the experience with the groomer rather than their owner.

Supplies

  • Nail Trimmer
  • Styptic Powder
  • Filing or finishing tools

Oral Care

Dog owners frequently overlook oral hygiene until they get a whiff of particularly offensive doggy breath but it is an important part of your pets grooming regimen. Cavities in dogs are rare instead plaque and tartar build up is the major concern especially for dogs fed a soft food diet. Excessive build up can cause gum disease and tooth loss as well as the dreaded doggy breath.

Feeding your dog hard crunchy foods like dry kibble, biscuits and treats designed to promote dental health goes a long way in keeping your dogs mouth healthy.

Along with proper feeding weekly teeth brushings and yearly checkups is a commonly recommended schedule. Only toothbrushes and toothpaste specifically designed for dogs should be used.

Brushing is not a dog's favorite activity and can be a challenge. Start when your dog is a pup being sure to offer lots of treats and praise to get them more comfortable with it.

Supplies

  • Clean Cloth
  • Dog toothbrush
  • Dog toothpaste

Ear Care

Regularly inspecting your dog's ears is an important part of their grooming routine especially for dogs with large floppy ears. Parasites like fleas and mites as well as bacteria and yeast just love the dark damp environment that they find there.

Odors, discharge, irritation and ear scratching are all indications of an ear problem requiring a close inspection. Look for dark colored or grainy wax build-ups, redness or swelling and scabs or scratches may all be signs of a more serious problem. Trapped debris and matted hair are also potential troubles so these should be removed.

There are specially designed ear care kits for your dog that take the guess work out of ear care. Cotton balls dampened in hydrogen peroxide, mineral oil or a commercial ear cleaning solution can be used for regular grooming. When cleaning the ears never insert any cleaning tool into the ear canal as this can cause permanent damage. A casual inspection weekly is often the key to warding off more serious problems.

Supplies

  • Ear Cleansing solution
  • Cotton balls
  • Clean Cloth
  • Tweezers or hemostats