How to Groom a Dog

While some breeds require minimal grooming efforts when it comes to their hair, all dogs benefit from a basic grooming regimen that includes the care of more than just their coat. Do it yourself dog grooming should be considered a routine part of caring for your canine companion to ensure good health. These dog grooming tips will help you to maintain your dog’s appearance and good health.

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Rub a Dub Dub, A Dog in a Tub

Unless your dog revels in rolling over stinky surfaces or is being treated for a skin condition, you should try to restrict bathing the dog to not more than once a month. The first thing to keep in mind when learning how to groom a dog is that excessive bathing can dry out your dog’s skin and coat. When bathing your dog or puppy, always select a mild shampoo that is specifically labeled for use in dogs or puppies. The water should be warm, not hot, and take care to prevent water from getting into the dog’s ear canals and shampoo from getting into the dog’s eyes. Do not allow the dog to drink the soapy bathwater from the tub. After the bath, dry the dog as thoroughly as possible with an absorbent towel, and keep the dog away from drafty areas until the coat has completely dried. If you choose to employ a hairdryer, always use the lowest setting. Hold the dryer at least six inches away from the surface of the dog’s body.

Brush, Cut and Style

You should research your dog’s breed to determine the specific grooming needs of its coat. Some breeds, such as the bichon frise, require periodic trips to a groomer for the haircuts that maintain the breed’s characteristic appearance and to maintain a neat coat. In between these visits, you may need to engage in brushing sessions at home. The type of brush and the frequency of brushing are dependent on the breed’s coat grooming needs and on the dog’s activities. Your breeder or groomer is a good source for dog grooming tips that are specific to your dog’s breed. Longhaired breeds, such as the Afghan hound, require extensive daily brushing to prevent tangles and painful mats. Smooth-coated breeds, such as the boxer, may not have hair that tangles, but wiping them down with a grooming mitt two to three times a week helps to maintain a shiny coat by stimulating and redistributing the natural oils of the skin and coat. Double-coated breeds, such as the Australian shepherd, should be brushed out two to three times a week to remove the loosened, dead hairs from the coat and reduce shedding. Bathing and brushing sessions are perfect opportunities to look for any skin abnormalities, such as scabs, rashes or flaking, and new lumps or bumps. Any such observations should be addressed by your veterinarian.

Check Under the Ears

If your dog has earflaps that hang downward to cover the opening of the ear canal, then your dog also has an elevated risk for developing ear infections. Each week, lift the dog’s earflap and take peek underneath. If you notice black or brown debris, you will need to clean the ears. To accomplish this, fill the ear canal with an ear cleaning solution. Holding the ear canal opening closed, massage the base of the ears vigorously for several seconds. Let go of the dog, and allow the dog to shake its head. The debris that was loosened with the solution and the massaging action will be shaken out of the ears. This task can be messy. Consider performing ear cleaning within a shower stall, a mudroom or outdoors. As a final step, you may wipe out any remaining debris that is visible with a gauze pad or a wad of cotton that has been moistened with the ear cleaning solution. To eliminate the risk of injury to the eardrum, do not use cotton-tipped applicator sticks to clean your dog’s ears. If your dog’s ears appear red and inflamed, if the dog is shaking its head or scratching at its ears, if excessive debris continually reappears in the ears or if the ears have a foul odor, then you need to bring your furry friend to the veterinarian.

Manicure and Pedicure Time

Before trimming your dog’s nails, you will need to gather your supplies to have within arm’s reach during the procedure. The most important item is a styptic product that will stop the bleeding that occurs if you trim a nail too short. Such products are available in any pet supply retail venue. If your dog has white nails, you can easily see the pink blood vessel within the nail. Using the appropriately sized dog nail trimmer, make the cut in front of the tip of the vessel. If your dog has just one white nail on a paw, use that nail as a guide to visualize how much can be trimmed from the darker nails. If your dog’s nails are all black in color, you will have to trim small amounts at a time off of the first nail until the appropriate length is achieved. If a nail is trimmed too short and bleeds, apply the styptic product to the nail to stop the bleeding. The blood vessel grows with the dog’s nail growth. If your dog’s nails are trimmed once each month before they have grown excessively long, the vessel will remain short as well. To file the sharp edges that can be created when trimming a dog’s nails, take your dog for a walk on a paved surface after the manicure and pedicure have been completed.

My, What Clean Teeth You Have

Brushing your dog’s teeth is not just about freshening its breath. A home dental care routine is an essential do it yourself dog grooming ritual for maintaining your dog’s overall health. The oral bacteria that accumulate over time result in periodontal disease, which can progress to adversely affect your dog’s vital organs. Brachycephalic breeds and toy breeds are especially prone to these perils. By brushing your dog’s teeth at least three times each week, you will reduce the amount of plaque accumulation. Select a toothbrush that is appropriately sized for your dog’s teeth, and always use toothpaste that is specifically formulated for use in dogs. Dogs do not spit out their toothpaste. Pet toothpastes do not contain the detergents that are found in human toothpastes and are therefore safe for your dog to swallow. Once you slip the toothbrush under your dog’s lip, brush the outer surfaces of the teeth. The entire process should not take more than five minutes to accomplish.

The first step in learning how to groom a dog is to teach the dog to accept the spa treatment. When you welcome a new puppy into your family, be sure to acclimate the youngster to being handled for grooming. Play with the puppy’s feet, rub its ears and brush the coat. Those baby pearly whites may fall out soon, but brushing them will give your puppy an early start to learning and accepting the routine. Always reward your puppy or dog at the end of each grooming task to keep the experience positive. A well-groomed dog will exhibit the picture of good health inside and out.

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