Every dog owner knows that after a few weeks—or perhaps a few days, depending on your dog’s curiosity level—your pup might start to smell and have a dirty coat. Dogs get into mischief outside and roll around in things, leaving them caked in mud or their fur matted down.
Nobody wants a shabby-looking pup, so grooming is an essential part of routine dog care. Having your pet groomed, either professionally or on your own, can help relieve your dog of irritations of the skin, especially if they have allergies, and can prevent skin infections and other health problems. Grooming also gives you the opportunity to check your dog over to make sure there are no health problems you may have missed earlier.
Not only that, but grooming your dog can help strengthen your bond. Spending quality time with your pooch can make it trust you more and know you’re dedicated to helping it look and feel its best.
If you decide to groom your dog at home, make sure you’re covering all the bases and not skipping steps. Follow these tips to keep your dog fresh and clean in all the places it matters.
The first step to all grooming routines is brushing. Ideally, you should brush your dog’s hair a minimum of once a day, but a few times a week will do. Doing so can reduce the amount of hair that is shed around your home and onto your clothes.
Brushing your dog can help remove all of its dead hair, as well as dirt and grass that may be trapped in its fur. Brushing prevents mats, which usually need to be cut out by a groomer and have the potential to lead to skin issues. Routine brushing also distributes skin oils to the coat for better protection and a healthier shine.
The best part, though, is that it feels good for your dog, so regular brushing allows you to have quality time with your pooch.
Purchase a wire brush that is ideal for your pet’s hair length and work through your pup’s hair once a day, throwing out any hair shed in the process.
Bathing can seem scary to some dog owners, whether it’s because they are afraid of the mess or because their dog hates being bathed. However, bathing is a necessary part of keeping your dog clean and free of skin irritants.
Your dog doesn’t need a bath every day. One bath every month or two will usually suffice, but you should bathe your dog more often if it spends a lot of time rolling in mud or other substances.
To bathe your dog, always start by brushing its hair to remove excess fur and dirt. Next, wet the body using a sprayer hose or a cup of water. Always use warm water so your pooch doesn’t get too cold! Then, apply shampoo and lather it up. You should use a high-quality shampoo that doesn’t have a lot of chemicals in it. Rinse the shampoo thoroughly with more cups of water or the sprayer.
You may also want to apply a conditioner if your dog has long hair, then comb the hair out before rinsing.
After the bath, you’ll also want to check and deep-clean the ears. This can help remove hard-to-reach debris and dirt and check for ear problems. Clean the ears with a cotton ball and ear cleaner. Never use cotton swabs, or you may cause injury to the inside of the ear.
Brushing your dog’s teeth is a very important grooming step that is often overlooked. A daily tooth brushing cuts down on gross “doggy breath" and can help prevent tooth decay and dental diseases, letting your dog keep all its teeth and feel comfortable its whole life. Periodontal disease, in particular, can actually spread to other organs in the body and lead to much more serious health problems.
When brushing your dog’s pearly whites, use special pet toothpaste and a finger toothbrush for better control. Never use human toothpaste because it is toxic to dogs.
Having your finger in its mouth may take some getting used to for your dog. Be patient and use rewards to make progress slowly.
When your dog lets you touch its teeth, lift the lip and gently scrub the outside of the teeth, making sure to get back to all the canines. Most pet toothpastes do not require the pet to rinse, so once you’ve brushed each tooth, you’re done!
It’s very important to keep your dog’s nails properly trimmed because long nails can cause paw pad injuries if they grow around. Long nails can also cause injury to other animals or you through scratching. If your pet’s nails are clicking when it walks, it’s time for a trim.
First, get pet nail clippers. Then, you should start by handling the feet to get your dog used to the feeling. It may resist at first, so you’ll need to be patient. You may need to cut one nail per day until your dog is more comfortable.
Identify the quick, which is the pink area of the nail where the blood supply stops in a vein. Never trim close to the quick, because it can cause severe pain and will bleed if it is cut. If you do accidentally cut the quick, apply styptic powder with pressure to help stop the bleeding. Use the trimmer to cut the nail to its desired length.
Afterwards, check out your dog’s paws and the condition of its paw pads. If they are looking cracked and dry, consider using a paw moisturizer. If there is debris stuck in the paws, use a pair of tweezers to remove it and rinse the paws thoroughly.
After you’ve worked through all the steps of grooming, your dog will be ready to get back to a fun day of napping, playing and lounging around the house. Your pet may resist grooming at first, requiring the help of a professional groomer or vet. If necessary, seek outside help—do not neglect to groom your dog, or it may develop a skin or other health problem.