Taking care of your dog’s grooming needs might seem daunting but is really quite simple if you do the basics on a weekly basis. Here are the main necessities to keeping your dog properly taken care of on an ongoing basis.
Clip Your Dog’s Nails
A well-walked dog likely will wear his own nails down on pavement or concrete, but country and older dogs need to have their nails cut every 6-8 weeks. Long nails can hinder dogs when they walk and can tear the pads on their paws. As a rule, if you hear your dog’s nails tapping on the floor when they walk, that’s usually a good indicator they are too long.
You can take your dog to a vet or groomer to have his nails cut; this usually takes about 10 minutes and costs about $15-25. There is always the option of purchasing a nail cutter and doing it yourself. However, most dogs really do not like having their nails cut and will likely make it an enormous challenge. If you are going to give it a go remember that you can always cut more so start by trimming a tiny bit and continue from there. Dog nails will bleed profusely if you cut too close so be mindful to cut small amounts rather than a large chunk.
Clean Your Dog’s Ears
It is common for dogs to develop yeast infections in their ears that lead to wax build up. Depending on how serious it is you can purchase an ear cleaner solution or pet wipes at a pet store and gently swab the inner portion of your dog’s ear to remove the wax. If your dog’s ears are more serious you should take them to a vet for medical advice.
However, to prevent infections and wax build up, especially if your dog often suffers from such, it is a good idea to use a wipe every few days to keep the ears clean. Long-eared dogs like the Bassett Hounds or Cocker Spaniels require special attention as well.
Clean Your Dog’s Face
For white dogs (breeds such as Bichon Frise, Maltese and American Eskimo Dog), use an eye wipe to prevent red/brown marks under the eye from tear secretion that causes stains. Pet stores sell eye wipes for this specific purpose and ensure that they are safe to go near the eyes. Do not use regular soap and water because the soap can irritate sensitive eyes.
The facial wrinkles in short-faced dogs like Pugs, Bulldogs and French Bulldogs must be cleaned daily to thwart skin disorders. In these breeds, many dogs with scruff underneath their mouth require a cleaning as well to keep fur free of matting and prevent food build up in their beard.
Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Taking care of your dog’s teeth is vital to keep his breath fresh and clean as he matures, and to ensure he will have healthy teeth to eat his food. The first step is to make sure your dog’s diet includes hard food as well as soft – hard food keeps teeth strong. You should also give your dog an edible chew toy as this will sharpen his teeth and keep them sturdy.
You should purchase a dog toothbrush and meat-flavored toothpaste at your local pet store and attempt to brush your dog’s teeth every week or so. The toothbrush can be a regular canine brush or a rubber brush made to fit on your finger. Your dog probably will not like this process, but the meat-flavored toothpaste usually helps. In addition to brushing, your dog should receive a professional dental cleaning at least once a year at the vet. This normally requires sedation, but is crucial to keep your dog’s teeth clean.
Brush Your Dog’s Coat
For Poodles or Schnauzers that require a special haircut, it is best to take your dog to a professional groomer. If it is not warm out, then long-haired dogs should go the same route. Grooming costs depend on whether your dog is being bathed or if he is being bathed and cut, as well as the size and needs of the dog. The best way to find a reputable groomer is to ask your vet or research the groomer online. Professional grooming can be a traumatic situation for dogs – they are being dropped off to a stranger to have their coat and nails cut, which they find uncomfortable. Be sure to find a groomer you like and trust – it’s your dog, after all.
Keeping your dog’s coat clean and healthy benefits both you and your dog. The healthier the coat, the less it smells and the shinier it looks, while it also is more comfortable for your dog. Depending on the breed, a daily or weekly brushing with a brush or comb appropriate for your dog’s coat is suggested. Short-haired dogs (such as Pit Bulls, Vizslas and Rottweilers) require minimal brushing except during shedding months, when you might want to increase your care. Long-haired dogs (such as German Shepherds, Collies and Samoyeds) need daily brushing with a bristle brush to stop matting and prevent hair from shedding all over the house.
Breeds like Bichon Frises or Havanese have more involved brushing needs. They must be groomed daily with a wire brush to prevent matting and tangles. During bi-annual molting, dogs like the rough-coated Brussels Griffon require hand-stripping. All dogs require some weekly brushing. Check our Breeds section to see the recommendations for your dog.
Bathe Your Dog
All dogs need to be bathed every now and again. It can be an arduous task if your dog doesn’t like the bathing process, or it can be a matter of turning on the water and calling your dog. If your dog has relatively short hair it is easy to pop him in a tub with lukewarm water running and use dog shampoo and a dog mitt (a rubber sponge that fits over your hand) to scrub and clean your dog. Following this, a thorough towel drying should be enough. If you have a long-haired breed like a German Shepherd or Golden Retriever, outdoor bathing is the way to go. There is simply too much hair to do this in a bathtub. You can do the same bathing process using an outdoor sink or hose with lukewarm water.
If you follow this general guide, your dog’s grooming should become a daily responsibility that results in a happy, healthy dog.
Reported by Susan Cava