Caring for your dog means accepting a range of different responsibilities, from keeping him safe from disease and illness, to ensuring he gets the right nutrition and enough exercise. However, while so much emphasis is placed on the most obvious aspects of canine care, one is often overlooked – grooming.
Why is grooming important?
Grooming your dog is an essential part of keeping him feeling as well as looking good. Many people fail to realize that, like us, dogs need to be clean to be healthy. While there is no need to bathe your canine pal daily, regular grooming has a number of advantages. These include:
- Helping him to maintain a healthy coat and skin.
- Keeping claws short reinforces healthy foot structure and posture, reduces the risk of infection and can prevent damage to people and property within your home.
- Less shedding.
- Reduced matting, which can help keep your dog cool in the summer months.
- Brushing provides an opportunity to check your dog for the presence of parasites such as fleas, ticks and ear mites.
- Reduce the ‘dog smell’ that lingers with some breeds.
- Better oral health for your furbaby.
- Regular grooming enables you to check your canine companion for any abnormal lumps or bumps.
While there are plenty of professional grooming services available, and some dogs like nothing more than a visit to the doggy day spa, it does of course come with a cost. Some breeds, particularly long-haired hounds, require much more regular grooming to keep them looking and feeling fine, and this can make the process even more expensive. Fortunately, it is entirely possible to groom your dog at home – and here’s how.
Bathing your dog
When it comes to bath time dogs either love it or hate it. If your furbaby is in the latter camp, bathing him may be a little like hard work, but it is the best way to get him properly clean. Most groomers recommend that the average dog is bathed around once a month. Obviously if he comes bag from a walk particularly dirty, you may need to throw an extra bath time session in!
Run some lukewarm water, placing a few drops of canine bubble bath inside to make it foam up nicely. While the bath is running, take the time to give his coat a thorough brush. This will remove any loose hair, dirt and skin particles before he gets in. Once the bath has run, gently coax or lift him inside and let him get used to the water. If your furbaby is particularly averse to baths, you may need to hold him. Wet him from the neck down using the shower spray and use dog shampoo to wash his coat. Rinse thoroughly.
Never spray water directly into his face as this could be painful and cause water to clog up his ears. Instead use a washcloth and warm water only to clean around his face, ears and eyes. Dry him gently using warm towels.
Brushing your dog
Brushing is one of the simplest but most important parts of pet grooming. This process will help remove any matted hairs, dirt and other debris. It will also stimulate the natural production of oils, which help to keep his coat healthy and shiny. Regular brushing is beneficial for your dog’s overall health too as it provides you with an opportunity to check for any parasites such as ticks or fleas, as well as feeling him over for any unusual lumps or bumps.
Remember that the longer and thicker your dog’s hair is, the most often he will need to be brushed.
Cleaning his/her teeth
Your dog’s oral health is just as important as your own, and poor dental hygiene could cause him to suffer from pain and infection. Approximately 70% of canines will suffer from periodontal disease by the time they turn 3 due to lack of regular brushing. Make sure to use a soft toothbrush and only ever use pet toothpaste – human varieties are toxic to pets. It may take some time and practice, but most owners manage to work regular tooth brushing into their dog’s daily schedule. If you need further advice on techniques to use, we are happy to help.
Cleaning his/her ears
Dogs have very delicate ears, largely caused by their unusually-shaped ear canal which sits at a right-angle. Much like our own ears, you should never use Q-Tips or thrust any other implement into the ear canal. Instead, take a clean, damp cloth to gently clean the outside of them. If you notice any pus or a foul odor, contact us to make an appointment.
Filing his/her nails
Professional groomers tend to use clippers to trim the claws of the dogs in their care, but unless you are very practiced at this, we wouldn’t recommend it. If you really do want to trim his nails yourself rather than use a professional groomer, we suggest you use a file instead.
Grooming your pet at home can be a fun bonding experience. For more guidance on the best way to bath and groom your canine companion, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly and experienced veterinary team.