Grooming your dog is an important part of your dog’s overall health and wellbeing. Grooming needs and requirements vary based on the individual dog, breed standards, and your preferences. Grooming can consist of combing, brushing, washing, drying, trimming, nail care, ear care, eye care, and/or brushing the teeth.
Benefits of Dog Grooming
Routine brushing and combing can remove dead hair, dirt, prevent matted hair, and stimulates the blood supply to the skin. Regular nail trimming can prevent torn nails. In addition to these benefits, the time you spend grooming with your dog can be priceless. Learn more about Why It’s Important to Spend Time With Your Dog.
When to Start Grooming Your Dog
The best time to start grooming your dog is when you first bring your dog home. It should be part of your normal routine and the time you spend with your dog. It is important to start touching the feet, trimming nails, touching and massaging the gums, and looking in and cleaning the ears at an early age. Good behavior from your dog should be rewarded with praise and/or a treat.
If you plan to take your dog to a groomer for his grooming needs, call them and see when they want to start. They often prefer to start very young and slowly. For example, the first visit may only be one tiny portion of a full groom. It is important to make all early grooming experiences pleasant to optimize future grooming practices.
What You Need to Start Grooming at Home
To get started grooming your dog at home you will need supplies. Your supply list will depend on the needs of your breed and your desire to groom your dog. Some basic supplies include the following:
· Dog shampoo – Shampoo made for dogs is important and human shampoo is not a good replacement. Learn more with “Why can’t I just wash my dog with the same shampoo I use?”
· Dog conditioner – A good dog hair conditioner can deeply condition dry skin, and add a shine to the hair coat.
· Comb and Brush – A good quality dog brush can allow you to remove dead hair, eliminate tangles, and massage the skin. Learn more about choosing the best comb and brush with this article: Combs and Brushes for Your Dog. As you brush your dog, you may notice matted hair. There are safe ways and unsafe ways to remove mats. Safe Ways to Remove Mats from Your Dog.
- Nail trimmers –There are various kinds of nail trimmers are the market. For most dogs, the most popular is the Guillotine and Miller’s forge trimmers. Both are good choices. Learn more about Choosing Toe Nail Trimmers.
- Dental care products – Just as it is recommended that we brush our teeth at least daily, the same is true for your dog. Choose a toothpaste made for dogs and a toothbrush. The finger cot brushes work well for large dogs and some small dogs. Learn How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth.
Bathing Your Dog at Home
The need for bathing depends on the breed of dog, his skin type and hair coat, owner preference and just how dirty your pet gets. 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 dog when his coat gets dirty or begins to smell “doggy.”
When bathing your dog, be sure to rinse all the soap out of his coat. Learn more about How to Bathe Your Dog. If he has persistent problems with scratching or flaky skin, he may need a special medicated shampoo or have a skin problem that your veterinarian should examine.
After the bath, it is important to look in and clean the ears, especially in dogs with oily skin or allergies. However, if your dog is easy to handle, you can learn to do this yourself. This can be a delicate task and may be best left to your vet for some dogs. To remove excessive wax and debris from the ears, consider an ear cleaning every two to four weeks. Ask your veterinarian about products you can use at home, and ask for a demonstration of proper ear cleaning techniques. Learn some tips here on How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears. If you notice a lot of discharge, an odor or redness, your dog may have an ear infection and should see your veterinarian.
Look for Skin Problems
As you groom your dog, look for skin problems such as hair loss, dry skin, fleas, ticks, mites, masses or lumps, or red inflamed areas. Many problems are more easily treated with early detection. If you notice any abnormalities, contact your vet for an appointment.
An important part of grooming your dog is clipping nails. This is generally a simple and painless process unless you have problems or your dog is resistant to the trim. Nail trimming is easiest in dogs with clear nails and harder in dogs with black or pigmented nails. Here is an article on How to Trim Your Dog’s Toenails or you can ask your veterinary clinic team to show you the correct technique.
Benefits of Grooming for Dogs and Dog Owners
Grooming your dog is a great way to spend time with your pooch, evaluate him and his skin for abnormalities, keep his coat healthy, minimize “doggy odors”, and reduce shedding and hair around your home.
Additional Articles that May be of Interest About Grooming Your Dog:
- How to Promote Dog Wellness
- Dog Exams: You Should be Taking Your Pup Every Six Months
- Why It’s Important to Spend Time With Your Dog
- Keeping Your Dog Healthy: Year-Round Parasite Prevention for Dogs
- How to Trim Your Dog’s Toenails
- Safe Ways to Remove Mats from Your Dog
- How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears
- How to Bathe Your Dog