Many dog owners are learning new tricks to keep the cost of pet ownership down. One of the skills you can develop is learning how to groom your own dog. Not only is grooming important in helping your dog look and feel their best, but it can also be a way to increase the bond between you and your pet, and to help keep potential health problems at bay.
Most dogs require brushing, excluding certain hairless breeds. Even short-haired breeds benefit from brushing with a slicker brush to loosen dead skin and dander, and to move the natural oils through the hair to condition it. Short-haired breeds may only need a monthly brushing. Medium-haired breeds may require a weekly brushing to prevent mats and tangles. Long-haired breeds require daily brushing to keep them looking their best. If your dog seems to appreciate the brushing, by all means, brush daily! It’s a great bonding experience for all involved.
Brushing (Part 2)
Let’s not forget about brushing teeth! Ideally, you will start this at a very young age and do this regularly. I have tried starting this on an elderly dog who was not accustomed to it, and thought I was going to send her into a heart attack with the stress of the attempt. So with her, I’ve had to use dental chews and will require occasional professional cleanings with sedation. Oral health is tied to overall health, so it’s very important to maintain.
Thankfully pets don’t have to be bathed as often as humans. In fact, over bathing can cause skin dryness since it removes those natural conditioning oils. Use a pet shampoo or one specifically for dry skin (like our oatmeal shampoo/conditioner) if your pet has lots of dander or mild itching. Moderate itching can be a sign of allergies, however, and should be treated with dietary changes as directed by your vet.
Most dogs do well with a monthly bath, though some dogs are okay with a weekly one. Short-haired breeds can often go longer with regular brushing sessions. Long-haired dogs should be brushed thoroughly before bathing to prevent mats from getting locked in (like dreadlocks, which only works well on a few breeds.)
A shower with a hose shower-head attachment is a good investment for bathing larger dogs. Smaller dogs may fit in your kitchen sink. For enormous dogs, getting outside with a bucket, a hose, and a huge sponge might be the way to go, though this may be problematic in the colder months.
I do recommend conditioners as they help replace lost moisture and keep the coat tangle free. They can actually repel dirt by smoothing the hair cuticle as well. Reduced static electricity is also a plus!
Dogs have a natural ability to dry themselves quickly with that amazing spin-dry cycle they’ve developed. I personally like to wrap my pooches in towels first to minimize the wetness on myself and the rest of the house before they shake themselves out. After they free themselves of the towels, they can be seen rolling on the carpet and on my clean/dirty laundry, etc. If it’s chilly, you can use a blow dryer on low/warm. Always test the temperature on your own arm to see if it is too warm.
If your dog’s nails are clear, you are lucky, as the cuticle can clearly be seen and avoided. If they are dark, just trim a bit monthly to keep them in check. Sometimes I will enlist a kid to distract the dog with a yummy treat so they are less tense about the trimming (and I am more relaxed too!) Use our ergonomic nail trimmers for best results. I’ve never tried the rotary nail files but they reportedly work without the risk of nicking the cuticle. We also carry non-motorized files to smooth any jagged edges. Nails should be trimmed monthly.
For long-haired breeds, there are several pet trimming kits out there and videos available online that give tutorials for how to trim your type of breed. One of my dogs has hair that seems to clog up a trimmer in a matter of seconds, and the other is just plain scared of them. I therefore hand scissor my dogs, which is terribly time consuming, but the dogs enjoy the attention. I love to do this outside in the warmer months and let the birds run off with their fluffy softness to line their nests.
Even if you opt to use an electric trimmer, some hand scissoring is necessary around areas you want to keep longer like the ears, the tail, and paws. Care must be taken around the eyes and ears. It takes practice, but your dog will forgive you if you give them a less attractive haircut, whereas a child may not. So feel free to let your inner stylist out! Haircuts need to be maintained monthly.
Some dog breeds, especially those with long drop ears, are prone to ear problems like yeast, mites, etc. If an odor or discharge persists even with regular cleaning, talk to your vet about treatments. You may find one of our ear washes to be helpful in this regard.
A Few Words About Bows
Bows are cute and add style to your pet’s look. We offer a variety of pretty options in either barrette or band styles. Never put an elastic bow around a pet’s tail or around the ears as this will cut off circulation and cause permanent damage. Only put bows in a portion of the pet’s hair or attach them to collars.
Other benefits to grooming
It’s nice to have a fresh clean pet. Mine actually prance around like they know how cute they look when they’re clean. It obviously just feels good. But grooming your own pet also gives you a chance to become aware of any extra lumps or bumps that might develop so they can be checked by their vet before they become more difficult to treat. And the time and attention they get from you is a great bonding experience, and less stressful than visiting a stranger. Grooming one’s own pet may not be for everyone, but consider giving it a try!
Do you have any helpful grooming tips?