Proper grooming is just as important to a dog’s happiness and health as proper nutrition, regular visits to a veterinarian and frequent exercise. Regular hygiene will keep your pet looking good while eliminating bad odors and reducing the risk of illness. A good majority of a dogs grooming requirements can, and should, be done at home and requires only a few special tools available at any local pet store and most discount outlets.
Brushing is something that most dogs actually enjoy. Starting a brushing routine early is an effective way to bond with a new puppy. How often you need to brush your dog depends on the breed and what kind of hair it has. Dogs with long hair may need daily brushing to remove matted hair and tangles. Weekly brushing is adequate for dogs with medium length hair while dogs with short hair need to be brushed just once a month.
Brushing does more than just keep the hair from getting tangled and matted. The action stimulates oil production in the skin and this keeps the coat healthy and shiny. It also removes any dead hair that has been shed.
You want to be sure to choose a brushy that is best suited for the dog’s hair type. An ordinary bristle brush will work for most types of hair but there are many to choose from with bristles that are soft, firm, short or long. A wire pin brush works best on dogs with medium to long hair. For severely matted and tangled hair, use a matbreaker or rake. Moderately tangled hair can be worked on with a slicker brush. Use a shedding tool to remove excess hair on dogs with an undercoat.
Bathing is something that dogs enjoy less but starting the routine at a young age will help. Most dogs can be bathed approximately once per month with good results. Use only shampoos formulated especially for animal hair. Flea and tick formulas should only be used if the animal needs them because they can dry out the skin. Avoid skin irritation by thoroughly rinsing the shampoo out. Keep water out of the ears by placing a piece of cotton into the ear canal during the bath. Water in the ears can cause an infection. A hair dryer may be used following the bath but use a low setting and keep the device in motion to prevent burning the skin.
Some breeds, like poodles, have hair that grows continuously. These breeds will need to have the hair cut once or twice a month depending on the style. Most people prefer to leave this job to experienced professional groomers.
The ears are a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria if they are not cleaned regularly. Plan to clean your pets ears every time the dog is bathed and more often in the case of breeds that are prone to ear problems. Animals with long hair and floppy ears will tend to have more problems because the ear canal is closed off to the air most of the time. Ear wipes soaked in cleaning solution are available at most stores that carry pet supplies. Some dogs with long hair have a problem with hair growing inside the ear canal. Hemostats can be used to gently remove these hairs but many people prefer to leave this task to a qualified vet or groomer.
Your dogs nails should be kept trimmed short. For some dogs, frequent walks on pavement will be enough to keep the nails worn down to an acceptable length. If the nails must be cut, it is important to be extremely careful. If the nails are cut back to far it will cause bleeding and the animal will be in pain. This is a job that is best left to a vet if the dog is too aggressive during the procedure.
There are a variety of nail trimmers to choose from. Scissor trimmers are designed for use on dogs with small, thin nails. The guillotine trimmer features a spring-loaded handle and a replaceable blade. Some people find the rotary tool nail filers to be easy to use and effective on all nail types.
Keeping pets well groomed makes them more pleasant to be around and is necessary for good health. Dirty ears can lead to serious infections and a matted coat may cause skin problems. Most people prefer to do the grooming themselves as a way to bond with the animal and save money. Proper grooming is something that should be started early and continued throughout the lifetime your pet.