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Your Guide to Grooming

By: PetPlace Staff

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Grooming is an important part of your dog's health program. "Grooming" is a word used to describe shampooing, drying, hair cutting, nail trimming, ear cleaning and anal gland expression. Mats are removed and dead hair brushed out. Not only does grooming make your dog clean and odor free, but it also stimulates the blood supply to the skin, giving your pet a healthier and shinier coat.

Grooming can also help you bond with your pet, but you need to know what's involved. You may be able to perform some grooming, but want to leave the tougher aspects to a professional. Or you may find that you have the right knack to do it all. Here are some things to think about:

Who Will Do the Grooming? The first question to ask yourself is do you do it yourself or find a professional? The answer to this question lies in the time, money and equipment that you own to groom and the cooperative personality of your pet. Please see the related article on how to find a professional groomer.

How Often? That all depends on your pet. Factors include: his hair coat, hair length, how often he gets dirty, where he lives (if he is indoor or outdoors most of the time), shedding cycle, and any underlying skin problem (please see our related article, "Top Medical Reasons for Grooming Your Dog"). Some dogs need baths only a couple times year while others need weekly grooming. It is beneficial to brush your dog about twice a week. Bathing your dog every month or two isn't unreasonable, but some dogs will need more frequent cleanings. A good rule of thumb is to bathe your pet only when his coat gets dirty or begins to smell "doggy."

When Do You Start? Start regular grooming when you first bring your dog home and make it a part of his routine. Praise your dog when he holds still and soon he will come to enjoy the extra attention. Get him used to having his paws handled while still a puppy. Once you start using the nail trimmers, go slowly: Try trimming just a few nails in one sitting. Maintain a regular schedule and be persistent. Your pet will eventually develop patience and learn to cooperate.

What Tools Do You Need? That depends on your dog's hair type and length. Purchase a good-quality brush and comb and get your dog used to being handled. Types of hair coats include a long double, long silky, short smooth, short double, short wiry, curly or hairless. Some breeds have special grooming needs, so ask your vet or a professional groomer for advice on particular equipment necessary for your pet. Certain grooming supplies (see related articles) work best with the different coat types, such as slicker brushes, curved combs and rakes.

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