by Don Anderson
There are a few simple things we can do as keepers of our pets that will help ensure their health
and well being without costing us a fortune. Grooming your dog helps prevent serious problems down the
road such as skin conditions, allergies, ear infections and foot problems. By doing daily and weekly
grooming you will also be able to tell if there is anything out of the ordinary happening with your dog's health.
In this article I will cover the major areas of grooming starting from the head working our way to the paws.
I will discuss at what intervals grooming should be done and a few ways to make it work for you and your pet.
I will also be talking about some of the many products that are out there for you to choose from and some of
the ones we like.
One thing to remember is if you have concerns, problems or questions always talk to your vet or a professional groomer.
Grooming your dog should start from day one. Many of the things you do to socialize your puppy when they are
young will make grooming easier when they are older.
Starting at the Top
Lets start at the top and work down. Look at your dog's ears, inside and out. Lets examine the outside of the ear;
look for burrs and matted hair that will need to get brushed out later. On the inside of the ear look to see if there
is any dirt or wax buildup that will need to get cleaned out. If the ear does need some cleaning, using a Q-tip has
worked the best for us. We have also used eardrops (for dogs) to help break up the buildup we cannot reach with the
Q-tip. Put your fingers into your dog's ears to get them used to it. This should be started at an early age to make
things easier for grooming and examination by your vet. By keeping your dogs ears clean you can help prevent infection
and ear mites.
This brings us to the mouth that always seems to be chewing something up. When your dog is still a puppy get him used
to you playing around in his mouth. It will make grooming and vet examinations easier. Lift their jowls up and look
at the color of the gums. If they do not have a normal pinkish-red color see a vet, as it may be something more serious.
If during the life of your puppy you decide that you can no
longer keep your puppy, the breeder will gladly accept it back to find
it another home. There will be no refund or kennel fee for this
service. We never want our puppies to end up in a shelter!
Smell your dog's breath. Does it smell clean or like a sewer? If it smells like a sewer, then it may be because
of bacteria from what they are eating and it is sticking to the teeth and gums. Also look to see if all the puppy teeth
have fallen out, that may be the reason for the smell. Dogs can get gingivitis just like humans and it can lead to the
loss of teeth. Be sure to look for the yellow buildup of tarter.
Now that you have looked and smelled your dog's mouth and probably received a few licks to the face at the same time,
we are ready to brush their teeth. There are toothbrushes and toothpaste made just for dogs. Do not use human toothpaste
on your dog. Start by getting your dog use to having the brush in his mouth and keep working from there, it may take a
couple weeks before you actually brush his teeth. For hard tarter buildup you may have to take your dog to the vet to
have it removed. We haven't had to do much brushing, in part because we have a ready supply of knucklebones and chew
toys for them. Take a look at your dog's mouth once a week to make sure every thing is all right.
Remember how I keep saying many of these dog commands and handling practices should be started when they are puppies?
One of the main reasons is, now we have to trim their nails. It is very important the dog be use to you handling their
paws. This should be started as soon as you get the cute little puppy home. If you are afraid to trim your dog's nails
or are unsure about it, go to a professional groomer. Many are willing to show you what to do and the cost of them trimming
your dog's nails is not as bad as you making a mistake. How do you know if their nails are too long? If you can hear
their nails clicking on the floor, they're too long.
Whenever we groom our dogs we make sure to them treats and lots of praise. Also remember it may take you a while to do it
all. If you only get a couple nails trimmed the first time, consider it a success. Do a couple more nails the next night.
After a while your dog will be able to make it all the way through a complete grooming. If you are ever in doubt about
something talk to your vet.
We have taught both our large and small dogs to lie on their side and we use the command "be still" as we trim the nails.
We also use a lot of treats and praise. When you trim the nail, only trim up to the quick or vein. You do not want to hit
the vein, as this will cause pain and bleeding. Nail trimming only needs to be done once every 2-3 weeks. If you want to
avoid nail trimming, take your dog for daily walks. The constant walking on hard pavement will wear the nails down to the
point where you probably would not have to trim. The benefit is you don't have to trim the nail and both you and your dog
Congratulations! You have just about finished grooming your dog. The only thing left is to brush him and give him a bath.
Before we give any of our dogs a bath we brush them down to remove any dead or loose hair. Before the bath we use a Zoom
Groom for Dogs by Kong. We love it! Loose hair, dead skin and dander cling to the rubber surface as it massages and
stimulates circulation. You can also use it when bathing your dog to work up a rich lather and get your dog's coat
clean down to the skin. Dogs only need a bath about once a month unless they roll in something stinky. If you take
5-10 minutes a day or every other day to brush your dog down you will remove any dirt and help move their natural oils
around. Over washing removes the dog's natural oils and may lead to dry skin and other skin conditions.
You may be saying, "Hey, I'm ready!" but what do I use to brush and wash my dog? Well, you're in luck because I am going to
list a few items for you. The type of brush and shampoo you'll use depends on your dog. You can look a lot of this up on the
Internet and also ask your vet what they recommend. I will say that you do get what you pay for. I have found that it is
better to spend a few extra dollars to get a higher quality item. Don't forget to get a flea comb and never brush too long
in one spot or your dog may get a burn.
Here is a short list of what to use on different types of dogs. After looking at this, look to see where your dog
fits in and then go look at the different products on the market.
Shorthaired dogs, like Beagles and Great Danes, have relatively low-maintenance coats. Begin with a slicker brush
to remove matted hair. Then use a soft-bristle brush or a hound glove with short wire bristles in the palm to remove
dead hair and dirt. A soft cloth will wipe off any remaining loose hair.
Dogs with medium-length silky coats, like Golden Retrievers and Irish Setters, should be brushed with a wire or
firm-bristle brush. Be sure to untangle knots in the feathers.
Some dogs, like Yorkshire Terriers and Afghans, have long, silky coats. Use a firm, long-bristle brush on these
coats rather than slicker brushes or combs that will tear the hair.
Dogs like German Shepherds and Shetland Sheepdogs are double-coated, with a long, coarse topcoat over a thick,
soft undercoat. Begin with the slicker brush to untangle matted hair and knots. Brush from head to tail with a pin brush
and then comb with a wide-tooth comb. See your veterinarian or professional groomer for advice on trimming hair around
the feet, especially between the toes.
Listed below are some items and what they are used for:
- Heavy Duty Rake - Breaks up mats and remove tangles. Its smooth rounded teeth make it gentle to the skin. Perfect for large breed dogs.
- Zoom Groom for Dogs by Kong - (curry brush) Mentioned in the article.
- Shedding blade - Stroke over the back and sides to remove dead hair. Works great for German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Rottweilers.
- Slicker Brush - Used for everyday double coated, drop coated or densely coated dogs.
- Pin Brush - For dogs with long straight coats-Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apsos and Afghan hounds.
- Bristle Brush - Used for short-coated dogs such as Bulldogs, Pinschers, and Rat Terriers.
- Hound Gloves - Basset Hounds, and Bloodhounds.
Like the different brushes there are also a ton of shampoos out on the market. It is up to you what you want, but remember that what is important is that it works for your dog. You should
match the shampoo to your dog's coat and skin conditions.
A whitening shampoo visually enhances and brightens the coat color and helps to remove any yellow discoloration. Although designed to be used primarily on pets that are white or silver, the shampoo can also be used on pets that are golden, buff, and multi-colored.
This type of shampoo is used primarily to shampoo a pet's face and head. Tearless shampoos can be used on the whole body. The agents used in tearless shampoo are less harsh on the eyes, but are still just as effective on the rest of the coat.
Oatmeal or Raspberry-Oatmeal Shampoos
These ingredients are beneficial to pets that are prone to dry skin.
These shampoos are especially fragrant, and will stay with the dog for several days after bathing. Beneficial to dogs with an odor problem.
Medicated shampoos help to relieve itching and scaling due to dry skin or dermatitis. Make sure the coat is completely rinsed free of any shampoo residue.
Flea and Tick Shampoos
These are oil-based shampoos designed to rid the dog of external parasites. Pyrethrins and d-Limonene, both natural chemicals derived from plants, may be used in these shampoos and are safe, non-toxic pesticides that are highly effective. In addition to killing fleas and ticks, these shampoos also clean and beautify the coat. Always follow the directions carefully when using flea and tick shampoos.
Used on dogs to condition the hair and skin as well as clean the coat. Creme Rinses-Creme rinses cannot be used on all pets. Dogs such as the Old English Sheepdog, Bichon Frise, and double-coated breeds can benefit from a rinse. However, do not use creme rinses on cats, on silky-haired pets such as Yorkies, or on harsh-coated breeds like terriers, Poodles, Pomeranians, and the Pekingese.
Suggested for pets with dry skin, moisturizing treatments are designed to seal in the moisture from the pet's own skin. These can be used on a regular basis for pets that are prone to dry skin or dandruff. In most cases, the solution is massaged into the skin and left on the coat.