Pooch Pampering: Grooming Your Dog Like a Pro
For some dog owners, it may seem pointless at first. You set aside time each day or week for grooming your canine companion, carefully and lovingly brushing and cleaning their beautiful coat. With a comb and a bath, you ensure their coat is clean and devoid of mats, tangles, fleas, and ticks.
Yet, once your task is complete, your dog immediately commences undoing your efforts. They head outdoors and locate mud and burrs, showing little appreciation for your grooming abilities and seemingly working every bit as hard to “ungroom” themselves.
But, before you become discouraged by this “game” you and your pooch play, this constant cycle of grooming-and-ungrooming, it’s important to recognize grooming’s true value. While we all prefer not to have a stinky companion, grooming is about much more than simply smelling and looking good – it’s about promoting your dog’s overall well-being.
Not only does regular grooming relax a dog and offer human-canine bonding time, but it also affords the owner an opportunity to inspect the dog for overall health. This type of inspection can address problems ranging from lumps and cuts to ticks and skin conditions to dirty ears and eye health.
At the end of a proper grooming session, both owner and dog should be feeling good about the experience.
Grooming Your Dog
Although it’s often overlooked, grooming represents an essential component to your dog’s health program. Routine brushing and combing removes dead hair and dirt while preventing matting. Because it stimulates the blood supply to the skin, grooming also gives your canine a healthier and shinier coat.
Start regular grooming when you first bring your dog home and make it part of their daily or weekly routine. Purchase a quality brush and comb and get your dog used to being handled. Praise your dog when they hold still and, soon, they will come to enjoy the extra attention.
A proper grooming regimen should consist of:
- Brushing: Your dog’s skin and coat reflect their overall health and nutritional status. For most dogs, a good brushing once or twice a week is adequate.
- Bathing: Bathing your dog every month or two isn’t unreasonable, but some dogs will require more frequent cleanings. A good rule of thumb is to bathe your canine only when their coat gets dirty or begins to smell “doggy.”
- Nail Trimming: Ask your vet to show you the correct technique, then get started by getting your dog used to having their paws handled. Once you start using clippers, go slowly: Try clipping just a few nails in one sitting. Maintain a regular schedule and be persistent. Your canine will eventually learn to cooperate.
Top Medical Reasons for Grooming Your Dog
Regular grooming isn’t just for show dogs – it’s important for making any dog a model of strong health. Brushing your dog will help keep their coat clean and free of hair mats, which can be irritating and cause skin disease under the hair. Most dogs enjoy being combed and will eagerly await this part of their routine.
During a grooming session, focus on inspecting:
- Eyes: Keeping your dog’s face free of long hair that can irritate the eyes will make them feel more comfortable and prevent eye problems. Some dogs have a problem with drainage from the eyes. If the drainage is persistent, you should keep it wiped away to prevent infection, then consult your vet.
- Ears: Long ears cover your dog’s ear canal, creating a moist, warm environment that lacks air circulation. This can cause your dog to suffer from chronic ear infections. Your veterinarian can show you how to clean them properly and advise you on the use of an ear cleaning solution.
- Teeth: Dental disease in dogs is common. Checking your dog’s mouth and teeth will help you spot trouble before it becomes a serious issue. Your veterinarian can show you how to keep your dog’s teeth clean with brushes and toothpastes designed specifically for canines.
Grooming Supplies for Dogs
The right supplies will make regular grooming both manageable and enjoyable for dog owners. A full grooming arsenal should encompass items for both brushing and bathing. It’s generally recommended to brush your canine prior to bathing because wet hair is much more difficult to work through with a comb or brush.
Supplies that typically prove handy for regular grooming purposes include:
- Brush, comb, and rake
- Shampoo, dip, and conditioner
- Cotton balls and mineral oil
- Bath mat, leash, and harness
- Hair dryer (low-heat)
- Apron and gloves
- Nail trimmer
How to Bathe Your Dog
It’s no secret that most canines are not particularly fond of getting a bath. However, bathing serves many health-related functions beyond eliminating “doggy” stench. In addition to removing old hair, dirt, and oil from your dog’s skin, it affords owners a prime opportunity to examine their canines for skin abnormalities and parasites.
With regards to bathing frequency, different breeds and lifestyles will dictate how often your dog requires bathing and what sort of pet shampoos work best. If your dog spends a lot of time playing outdoors, chances are they’ll need a bath more frequently. Excessive bathing, such as every week, will remove vital oils from your dog’s coat, causing their skin to dry out. Dogs with smooth coats generally require fewer baths.
Here are additional tips to keep in mind when bathing your canine companion:
- Never wash your dog outside if the weather is cold.
- Before bathing, comb and brush out all mats.
- Put a drop of mineral oil in your dog’s eyes to protect them from suds.
- Use lukewarm water for bathing your pooch.
- Once your dog is thoroughly wet, apply shampoo on their back and work it gently through the coat for about 10 minutes. Use a washcloth to clean their face.
- Complete the rinsing cycle twice to make sure all the soap is off (leaving soap on a dog can cause an allergic reaction).
- Keep your dog away from any drafts until their coat is completely dry.
How to Pick a Dog Groomer
Whether due to time constraints or the need for expertise, many dog owners seek assistance from a professional groomer. When doing so, your veterinarian represents a good starting point. Many vets are familiar with area groomers and can offer a recommendation based on your breed, and some even provide grooming services at their facility.
Make an appointment to talk to the groomer first. Ask questions about his/her experience and training. Once you find a groomer you feel comfortable with, it’s time to hand over your precious companion. Most groomers ask that you refrain from waiting on-site for your pet. The pet will pick up on your anxiety, making the experience traumatic. It’s best to drop your dog off dirty and pick them up looking and feeling like a million bucks.