At-home grooming not only keeps your dog looking and feeling great, it is an excellent way for owners and their pups to bond. In this post, our White Hall vets offer tips and benefits you should know about the basics of dog grooming.
Grooming for Dogs
Your dog's grooming needs vary based on their lifestyle, breed, and sometimes age. Longer-haired dogs typically need more frequent grooming than shorthair breeds, and dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors will need more grooming sessions than those who spend more of their time curled up on the couch.
That said, basic grooming for dogs usually involves bathing, brushing, nail trimming and haircuts. There are elements of grooming you may want to do from home to maintain your dog's wellbeing and some you might want to take them to a professional groomer for.
Unlike cats, dogs need regular bathing to remove dirt and debris from their coats, paws and ears. However, bathing your dog too frequently can cause skin irritation, increase risk of fungal or bacterial infection. Your pooch's specific bathing schedule will depend on their coat-type and lifestyle.
Bathing your dog once a month to once every three months is typical, though you can confirm with your vet. When bathing them, use warm water and lather with dog shampoo.
Does your dog have curly or long hair? Your vet may be able to recommend conditions and detanglers formulated for dogs to help make brushing easier. Use as directed.
Many dogs are nervous around water. If this is the case for your pup, start slow. Try standing your dog in a dry bathtub and offering a treat for good behavior. Gradually progress to having your dog stand in a dry bath while you use a wet sponge to clean them. Make incremental moves toward giving your dog a full bath.
Brushing is an important role to grooming that not enough owners practice regularly, leading to mats and unhealthy coats. Brushing removes dead hair from your dog's coat, which helps prevent tangling and skin irritation.
One weekly brushing is usually enough for most dog breeds. You might also be happy to notice that this should reduce the amount of dog hair around your house. Dogs with longer coats or active outdoor lifestyles might need to be brushed more frequently, while shorthaired breeds may only need to be brushed once a month.
When it comes to your dogs nails, use trimmers specially designed for dogs. A rotary trimmer can be a safer alternative, but it will take longer to use as you are just buffing the nail down this way. You can desensitize your dog to nail trimming and make the process easier by starting it when they're young.
If your dog doesn't like having their feet touched, work up to nail trimming by gently stroking your dog's feet until they get used to the feeling. Once your dog will tolerate having their feet touched, begin by trimming just a single nail. Always reward good behavior as your dog becomes less anxious about nail trimming.
Different breeds require different types of haircuts. Speak to your vet or a professional groomer to find out exactly how often your dog should get a haircut, and what type of cut would best suit them.
If you feel comfortable enough to cut your dog's hair at home, bathe them first using good quality dog shampoo (you can ask your vet or groomer for recommendations), and then towel dry and brush. Use sharp scissors to trim the fur around the face and feet and electric clippers for the rest of the body.
If your dog has a luxurious, thick coat, or you'd prefer to avoid the mess of cutting their hair, consider making a professional grooming appointment instead. Dog groomers have all the tools and are trained in keeping dogs relaxed throughout the grooming process.
Grooming Anxious or Nervous Dogs
Grooming is an essential part of caring for your dog's health. Left unattended, unclean ears, long claws and matted fur can lead to serious discomfort and even health conditions in dogs. Of course, the process of grooming your dog can be made more difficult if your pooch is already anxious or flighty about the process.
Here are some tips to making the grooming process less stressful for both you and your anxious pup:
- Make sure your dog gets lots of exercise before grooming begins.
- Use positive reinforcement. Offer treats for good behavior.
- Be gentle. Dogs love to be pet. Give your dog lots of pats and hugs throughout the grooming process.
- Use a calming aromatherapy oil (such as lavender oil) on your fingers as you pet your dog and run your hands through their fur.
- If your dog is very nervous you may want to consider using a calming dog pheromone diffuser.
Basic grooming, regular exercise and routine wellness exams are the perfect combination to having a happy and healthy dog.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.