Most dog owners know that a happy, healthy dog needs regular exercise and proper nutrition, but what you may not know is that grooming is equally essential to your dog’s welfare. Dog grooming consists of much more than just bathing and brushing; dogs require paw, nail, teeth, and ear care to live their highest quality of life.
Dog Grooming: Brushing Your Dog’s Coat
Regular brushing isn’t just for dogs with long locks; brushing your dog’s coat removes loose hair and dirt that can make the coat look dull and also prevents mats that can eventually lead to discomfort and skin infections. Periodic brushing distributes the natural oils your dog’s coat produces throughout their hair, keeping the coat healthy and shiny. Different brushes are used for different coat types.
Short-haired dogs with smooth coats like Pitbulls or Weimaraners can be brushed less than once a week. Breeds with double coats, like the Husky, need to be groomed once a week with a slicker brush, except during the shedding season when they need to be groomed once per day.
Long coats, like those found on Golden Retrievers, benefit from a good brushing with a wire pin brush twice per week. Poodles and similar curly-coated breeds need to be brushed twice per week to prevent matting.
Brushing your dog before bathing is important to prevent scrubbing or pulling on painful tangles in their coat.
Dog Grooming: Bathing Your Dog
Not only does bathing your dog get them clean and smelling fresh, but bathing your dog yourself gives you a great opportunity to inspect their body for lumps, bumps, or cuts. Dogs can’t tell you when something hurts, so a routine inspection is necessary to catch small problems before they become big ones.
Removing all the dirt and loose hair from your dog’s coat also keeps their skin healthy. Allergens like pollen can irritate their skin if not washed off periodically as well. Even dogs with short or coarse hair can usually benefit from a bath once a month. You may need to bathe your dog more depending on their coat or breed type and how often they like to play in the dirt and mud. If your dog is old or very large they may benefit from a backyard bath with the garden hose where they’re less likely to slip.
Use a shampoo specifically made for canines; human products often contain dyes and perfumes that can irritate or dry out your dog’s skin.
Caring For Your Dog’s Teeth
Dogs can get cavities just like we can, so proper dental care is key to a healthy pup. Brushing your dog’s teeth routinely is the best way to prevent plaque and tartar from building up. Not only will routine dental care help prevent periodontal disease, but it will also keep your dog’s breath smelling better.
Ideally, you should use a canine-specific toothpaste and toothbrush to brush your dog’s teeth every day. Never use human toothpaste, as accidental ingestion could make your dog ill.
Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears
Unfortunately, the twisted shape of your dog’s ear is the perfect place for bacteria and yeast to thrive. Without regular cleaning, your dog may develop a nasty ear infection as well as other ear-related issues.
Remove waxy buildup from your dog’s ear canal once per week using a natural ear-cleaning solution. Dip a cotton ball into the cleaning solution, squeeze out excess liquid, and gently swab the inside of your dog’s ear flap. Clean just inside the ear canal as well.
Do not attempt to deep clean your dog’s ear. Only irrigate your dog’s ear with an approved liquid when recommended by your veterinarian. Check your dog’s ears for signs or smells that might indicate the presence of infection, parasites, or tumors.
Trimming Your Dog’s Nails
Often the most-dreaded activity for humans and canines alike, trimming your dog’s nails is nonetheless important for their health and comfort. If they have longer hair, the hair between the pads of your dog’s feet should be trimmed down as well; this hair can easily become tangled and cause pain.
Nail trimmers often come in scissor or guillotine styles that trim off the tip of the nail. If you’re nervous about cutting too much nail off, consider using a mechanical rotary tool that slowly files down the nail instead.
Nails that are too long can cause great discomfort in your dog’s feet and possibly even adversely affect their posture, leading to more severe bone and musculature issues. Your dog’s toenails should be trimmed so that they do not touch the ground when your dog is walking or standing. If your dog has dewclaws, claws the grow higher on the dog’s ankle, make sure to keep these especially trim as they can get caught on things much more easily.
Grooming Your Dog
Dog grooming can seem like a daunting task, but don’t be intimidated. Depending on what kind of dog you have, learning how to groom your dog yourself can save you hundreds of dollars annually. Plus, it might not be as difficult as you think.