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The Basics on Dog Grooming

 10/02/2018

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Grooming is an important step in looking after your dog well.  If you have a long-haired dog, without maintenance of his/her coat the hair could matt and knot. This can lead to a high concentration of moisture close to the skin and may be the cause of future skin infections.  Short-haired dogs may also have coat problems such as hot spots and excessive shedding of hair.

Regular grooming will help reduce these problems and, hopefully, allow them to be caught and prevented. 

Bathing your dog

Bathing helps to remove dirt, loose hair, scales and debris from your dog.  However, bathing too often can start to remove the natural oils from the skin which leaves your dog vulnerable to picking up skin infections and a dry coat.  If your dog suffers from skin infections your veterinarian may have recommended bathing your dog a few times a week. Certain medicated shampoos are specially formulated not to remove the protective skin barrier but to rather treat and support it. 

Bathing for a healthy dog should be limited to once weekly at most with a high quality pet shampoo. Please don’t use human shampoos as they are harsh to your pet’s skin environment.  Dogs have a different skin pH to ours so just because a shampoo works for us does not mean it will work for our dogs!  The water should also not be too hot or cold. Roughly 37°C, or lukewarm, is recommended.  

Try avoid getting too much water into your dog’s ears and avoid the eyes when bathing.  Water in the ears may cause an ear infection to flare up, and soapy water in the eyes may cause conjunctivitis.  If soapy water gets in the eyes, try to wash the eyes out with clean water or use Kyron’s Eye Wash to rinse them. 

It is important to rinse your dog properly after shampooing so no soap is left on the skin.  If soap is left behind, the coat may not dry properly and this may cause dermatitis (hot spots).

Drying

Please dry your dog properly after bathing.  Wet patches make the perfect environment for bacteria to colonise the skin and cause a skin infection.  If your dog is still wet he/she may go play outside and dirt will then stick to the coat. He/she will then need to be bathed again. 

Cleaning Ears

The ears should be cleaned with a product like Epi-Otic, which is formulated to reduce the yeast and bacteria load in the ear.  Please try remove as much of the wax as possible to keep the airways clean and dry.  The ear solution is poured into the dog’s ear and then one gently massages the base of the ear.  Cotton wool can then be used to gently wipe the ear and remove any excess solution.  If you are unsure rather speak to your veterinarian or vet nurse on how to safely keep your dog’s ears clean. 

Toe Nails

Toe nails can be scary to trim, especially if you have not done it before or if the toe nails are black.  You have to be careful not to trim them too short, as this may cause the quick to be cut and then the nail will bleed.  If you are unsure rather seek help with this step, you don’t want to injure your dog!  Some dogs also dislike their nails being clipped and the nails may even snap if you cut them too short, so be careful.  Even the most experienced dog groomer or veterinarian sometimes cuts the nail too short and causes bleeding, especially with black nails where the quick can’t be visualised.  The quick is long in some dogs, and shorter in others.  The idea is to cut before the quick, missing the blood vessel.

To get dogs accustomed to having their nails trimmed, it’s best to start playing with their toes and nails at a young age so that the pup gets used to you touching them.  Once the puppy is comfortable with this, you can start trimming then and offer rewards, such as a small treat, to make the experience pleasant. 

Brushing

There are different types of combs and brushes for dogs.  Some have a de-matting function to help with removing matted hair rather than cutting the matted parts out. Others reduce shedding by removing loose hair.  The type of brush or comb you would need is dependent on your dog’s coat.

Be gentle when brushing your dog, you don’t want him/her to fight you but, rather, for it to be a pleasant, stress-free experience.  If your dog is fighting you it may be that the bristles are too hard, a softer brush would be better in this case. Another reason may perhaps be that there are lots of knots and matts, it may be best to rather cut these out as they can pull on the skin, causing pain, when trying to brush them out.

Brushing your dog should be done weekly with long hair or wire coats that matt or form knots easily.

Teeth Cleaning

This is important in preventing plaque build-up.  See our article on dental care for more information on teeth cleaning.

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