Dog grooming is essential to a dog’s overall health and well-being. Not only can it be a bonding experience for you and your dog, but it will also help your canine friend feel more comfortable, avoid hygiene-related diseases, and have a more pleasant smell. While many people think of grooming as an activity that takes place once every month or more in a shop, regular grooming at home should be done.
What exactly are we talking about when we use the term “dog grooming?” We mean those regular activities which improve the hygiene and appearance of the dog. Such activities include but are not limited to brushing, shampooing, bathing, trimming or cutting of excess hair, nail care, eye care, and ear care. Long hair, short hair, wiry hair or dogs with thick undercoats all have different grooming requirements. Some dogs require special ear care and eye care to avoid potential health problems. Nail care is necessary as well for almost all breeds on at least a monthly basis.
It is best to accustom the dog to baths and grooming as early as possible. A puppy is far more accepting of the brushing and bathing routine than an adult dog who may be resistant to these new activities. While brushing, bathing and caring for the pet, the owner should take the time to carefully examine paws, assure the nails are clipped so they do not cause pain (long nails on dogs can be very uncomfortable for them) and assess their eye and ear health. Breeds with long, floppy ears will have more problems with matting or ear wax. Excessive ear wax promotes bacterial growth and can ultimately lead to an infection. This is the opportunity for the owner to check the condition of the skin for scratches, dry patches or any cuts.
Brushing Your Dog’s Hair
Brushing a dog’s hair is essential to encouraging natural oil production and giving the dog a shiny healthy coat while loosening dirt and other debris. There are an incredible number of dog brush types all used for dogs with different types of hair, at different times of the year. The most popular home brush type is the bristle brush which can be used on almost any type of dog’s coat.
A bristle brush for dogs with longer hair would have wider spaced and longer bristles. Bristle brushes for dogs with short hair would have shorter more closely packed bristles. Very frequently dog owners will use this type of brush at home for regular daily grooming or for between professional grooming appointments.
Wiry coats, long haired and medium length coat dogs may benefit from the use of a wire pin brush. The wire pins have rounded heads and are widely spaced and good for untangling long hair and removing mats. To avoid scratching or irritating the dog’s sensitive skin, it is often a good idea to use a coated or polished pin brush. These brushes should be used gently even when coated.
The slicker brush is another common brush used for home dog grooming. The slicker brush is most frequently used after brushing with the bristle or wire pin brush. It features wire pins that are angled about halfway down the shaft. Dogs with wiry coats may require stiffer pins in the brush. This is most frequently the finishing brush, and you should take care to choose a suitable pin size and stiffness for your dog’s coat.
How frequently a dog’s coat should be brushed depends upon the breed. However, daily brushing helps keep dirt from building in the dog’s coat, while at the same time helping to deepen bond between pet and owner. Even the shortest coat requires at least monthly brushing and weekly is an even better idea for these breeds in order to keep shed or matted hair to a minimum.
A dog’s coat collects dirt, and odor and even daily brushing can’t keep the odor away completely. Like all grooming it is best to accustom the pet early to water and the bathing routine. Many pets quickly come to look forward to shampoo and bathing especially if they are introduced to this early. This can help eliminate the “doggy odor” many dogs pick up outdoors and bring into the house.
Once a month bathing is not too frequent for most pets and at least every three months is necessary for all breeds . Human shampoo and hair care products may irritate a dog’s sensitive skin, so it is best to choose a good dog shampoo in order to avoid issues. A thorough brushing is important before a bath in order to remove any matted hair or debris. A dog shampoo with conditioner may be ideal for dogs with dry skin or in winter weather. Other shampoos may help rid the dog or puppy of fleas or ticks, thus killing two problems with one stone, so to speak. After the bath it is important to dry the dog or puppy. Human hair dryers can cause burns or irritation and should be avoided (not to mention some puppies might be scared by the noise). A pet dryer or a thorough toweling is preferable.
Dog Grooming and Ear Care
Home dog grooming should include an inspection of the dog’s ear. Gentle cleaning with a swab is important as well. Dogs who scratch their ears or shake their heads frequently may have a more serious ear problem. A vet’s visit is usually necessary if debris has accumulated in the ear canal. Avoiding water in the ear during baths, as well as gently cleaning the outer surface of the ear with a swab, can help prevent debris from working its way into the ear canal.
Dog Grooming and Nail Care
Just as long toenails can be very painful for humans, long nails on a dog can cause difficultly walking as the nail presses against the ground. If the dog’s toenail is ingrown then the problem can be more severe. Nails on dogs should be clipped at least once a month or more if toenail growth is quick. Avoiding the blood vessel running down the nail to be trimmed is easier in dogs with clear nails as the vessel will be pink. The nail should be cut at a 45 degree angle without cutting into the blood vessel.
What happens if you accidentally hit that blood vessel? Well, it’s not the end of the world, though it can result in bleeding and some pain for your pooch. The bleeding can be stopped with a styptic stick.
Regular grooming is essential for a dog’s health and is aesthetically pleasing. Grooming tools for almost every breed are relatively inexpensive and using them regularly strengthens the bond between the pet and their owner. Many potential health problems can be detected and taken care of with regular grooming sessions.