Read these 30 Dog Grooming Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Dog tips and hundreds of other topics.
The most common cause of bad breath in otherwise healthy dogs is the build-up of tartar and plaque on their teeth. In order to correct this problem, there are a few things that you can do:
• Take your canine to an annual veterinary exam that includes a dental checkup.
• Feed your dog dry pet food that will help slow down the build-up of plaque and tartar.
• Give your dog a rawhide chew or nylon bone to help get rid of plaque and tartar.
• Don't neglect to brush your dog's teeth. He should have them brushed at least once a week.
• Get a mouth wash or spray specifically formulated for canines to help reduce bacteria.
Clipping your dog's nails is something that is much easier when done consistently and started from a young age. Your dog will be accustomed to the sensation of getting her nails clipped and will not be frightened by it.
However, if your dog is older or still resistant, you can try using a nail grinder, which works much like a sander for toe nails. Some dogs may be more amiable to shortening their nails in this manner.
Always trim your canine's toes when she is relaxed and not hungry. It may help to have someone assist holding your pooch. Try offering her a treat or chew toy during the trimming process.
If you have a smaller dog and his/her coat is light in color, chances are you have noticed dark patches under his/her eyes from time to time. Unlike their human counterparts, dogs don't develop dark circles from a lack of sleep or when they've had a 'ruff' night. Those dark patches can be caused by a multitude of factors. Dogs who eyes tear excessively can develop yeast or bacterial infections that cause a reddish-brown stain. Blocked tear ducts, ear infections and allergies are also common causes of eye staining. There may even be a genetic component. And, if the water in your area has an especially high mineral level, your dog's eyes may have a tendency to stain. Once you have determined the cause of your dog's eye stains -- and if you can eliminate the source -- you can work to remove the stains from your dog's facial hair/fur.
Does your dog smell? There may be a variety reasons, so before you dump them in the bath, consider the following:
• Sometimes your dog gets stinky because she loves to roll in stinky things. Regular brushing, grooming and bathing will help clean your dog up.
• Sprayed by a skunk? Try tomato juice. If the worst occurs, bring your pooch into the bath and dump on the juice.
• Some dog breeds have an oily hair coat that can become rancid and cause a bad odor. Basset hounds and spaniels both have this characteristic. If this type of dog breed is not groomed and cared for regularly, it can develop into a skin condition, so look out.
• Bacterial skin diseases are a common problem with some breeds and can cause odor. You need an anti-bacterial dog shampoo to keep bacteria off sensitive skin. You should also consult with a vet if you feel there is a bacterial cause.
• Ear infections can cause odor, especially in dogs with “drop ears.” Look for redness, irritation and itching. Frequent grooming and cleaning can help with issues like this.
• Anal glands can also cause pet odors. Anal glands should be expressed by your veterinarian, but some qualified dog groomers can do this as well.
You can do a few things to make bath time for your canine a safer and more pleasant experience. Put a non-slip mat in the bathtub to make your dog feel more secure. She may be frightened and fidgety during a bath and the mat will keep her from slipping and sliding.
• Always use dog shampoo and conditioner and not a product made for people. Dog shampoos and conditioners are specially formulated for your dog's needs. Pay extra attention to the underside of your dog. Check for pests and irritations.
• When bathing your dog, protect her eyes from shampoo by rubbing a cotton ball saturated with mineral oil around the eye area. This prevents shampoo from entering her eyes.
When the temperature rises in the summer, don't forget to help keep your dog cool. Make sure your canine companion has access to plenty of fresh water and a shaded area to lie. Avoid taking her for long walks or exercising her during midday, when temperatures are the hottest. And always be careful of hot asphalt and cement, which could burn feet quickly.
Short nosed breeds such as Pekingese or Pugs are especially susceptible to overheating. Also watch out for older dogs.
If your pooch is overheating, keep her in a breezy spot, apply cold water with towels or put her in a chilled water bath. Hydrate her as soon as she is responsive to it.
Divide your dog grooming time into four areas: brushing. combing, nail clipping and shampooing.
* Brushing: Begin brushing at the head, working toward the tail and down the legs. Always brush in the direction of hair growth. Regular brushing will help distribute the natural oils from the skin, producing a healthy, shiny coat.
* Combing: Like brushing, always comb in the direction of hair growth. Do small sections at a time, until the coat is tangle free. For troublesome tangles, use an anti-tangle comb. If the coat has a particularly stubborn tangle, trim it with scissors. A de-matting comb can be used to remove mats.
* Nail clipping: Many dog owners wait for the vet to trim nails. But you can trim your own dog's nails with special dog nail trimmers. Do not ever use regular scissors to trim your dog's nails. Hold the paw firmly and cut off the tip of the nail with a single stroke. Make sure you do not cut too far down the nail to avoid cutting the blood vessel inside the nail. You can follow up with a nail file to make the nails round and even. If you don't feel comfortable here, or if your dog is skittish, you're probably better off leaving it up to the vet.
* Shampooing: Make sure the dog has been thoroughly brushed and combed with no snarls or tangles before shampooing. If the dog is smaller, you can use the tub. Bigger dogs will have to be done outside. Dress in clothes that are OK to get wet. If your dog is skittish about baths, make sure the door is shut or the dog is tied up to avoid flight. Do not use human shampoo, make sure to use a dog shampoo. Some prefer to use natural dog shampoo, like Espree. Ask your vet or breeder for a dog shampoo recommendation. You can protect your dog's eyes with a little Vaseline or mineral oil around the eye.
Make sure the water is warm, but not hot. Get your dog used to the water by spraying his back and shoulders. After he relaxes, wash his head with a cloth or sponge. You can use a rubber brush to work the shampoo into the coat. After thoroughly lathering, rinse with warm water. Make sure to give him treats during and after the bath to reward good behavior.
Time to find a groomer? To make sure that you're leaving your pet in good hands, here's a checklist to go by.
• Get a referral from someone you know. It always helps when a friend or family member can recommend a service that they're happy with to you. And don't hesitate to ask someone on the street if his dog looks great, who the groomer is.
• Get your groomer's background. Where did he learn his craft? How much experience does he have?
• Does the groomer keep records of pet information on file in case of emergency? Your dog's veterinarian, vaccination records, and any health problems should be something that the groomer can have handy.
• Check to make sure that the groomer has a clean facility.
• Can the groomer handle the styling needs of your pet?
• Are the groomer's prices competitive? Do his hours of business meet your needs?
For those of you with short-coated shedding dogs, there's a wonderful tool that helps considerably. It's known as the zoom groom or uni-groom.
It's a hand-held latex device with little nubs on one side. Run those nubs back and forth on your dog's coat in a scrubbing motion to massage your dog's skin and remove unwanted fur!
You should use this product outside or in a contained area, as the fur has a tendency to fly. This product is available at most pet stores. But the least expensive place to find it is at a horse supply store.
If your dog tangles with a skunk, you and he both may be feeling the pain of the stench. Here's a de-skunking recipe to soothe the olfactory senses:
• 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide
• 1/4 cup baking soda
• 1 teaspoon liquid soap
(This recipe can be doubled for bigger breeds)
Wet your dog down with water and work the mixture through your pooch's hair. Leave the mixture on for three to four minutes and rinse. Be sure to throw away any excess mixture.
You can also try soaking your dog in tomato juice in the bathtub. Or, if you prefer, there are many dog odor removal products on the market that specifically target removing a stinky skunk spray!
Although your dog may be covered in fur, she may still have sensitive skin. Some canines develop skin conditions such as dandruff, eczema, and rashes caused by skin allergies.
Skin problems can cause extreme itching, fur fall-out, and even painful skin sores unless treated. On a short haired dog, you can often spot these problems developing early whereas on a long haired dog, the problems may be hidden for some time.
If your pet seems to be scratching the same area a great deal, check her skin under her fur. Make sure you also check beneath her undercoat. If the problem appears to be caused by a poorly trimmed undercoat or fur matting, you can approach a professional groomer.
In the case of fur matting, don't bathe your dog right away and don't treat with a medicated dog shampoo if you canine has a longer coat and an undercoat. You may actually cause more harm than good because water will actually increase matting in an undercoat instead of cleaning it.
Additionally, you can experiment with diet, a main cause of skin problems. Check the nutritional labels of the food you are giving the dog, and try to transition her into a different diet or add a dog nutritional supplement.
Finally, you should approach your veterinarian if the problems persist.
Brushing provides benefits to your relationship between you and your dog (packs often groom each other) and gets your dog's coat shiny and clean. Here are some different types of dog brushes and ways that they should be used:
• For medium and long coated dogs, you can use a pin brush or a wire dog brush. Beware of putting too much pressure on your dog's skin while you are brushing. If you press too hard, you may scratch their skin and create a rash irritating your dog – this is not the purpose. You want to angle the brush near the skin and not against the skin. Brush down the dog from head to tail, with the grain of the coat hair. Note that the stomach, male genitals and back end area are sensitive to brushing.
• If you have a hound with a short, smooth coat, you don't need to use a wire brush. Rubber dog brushes are just the thing. They will remove any shedding hair and dirt as well as increase blood circulation to the skin and coat oils all over the dog.
• Remember to always brush your dog before you bathe them. Get the right tools and be careful to make it a pleasant experience for both you and your pet. Finally, enjoy grooming your pet and treat it as a wonderful bonding experience.
Dog grooming is not just about the way your dog looks or smells. Grooming is about the regular care of your dog.
Your dog will receive numerous benefits, including good hygiene, bonding time with you, and enjoy the preventative measures of spotting any skin problems. Additionally, dog grooming enhances healthy nails and paws, healthy skin, a healthy, tangle free coat, clean eyes and ears, and flea and tick control.
If you have a dog with a medium or long coat, consider having your dog professionally groomed at least twice a year. You should also maintain your dog's coat with regular brushing at home.
Don't consider your dog's grooming needs as optional. She's counting on you to keep her healthy and clean.
How many times have you told your groomer that you brush your dog all the time, only to find his coat is still matted? The problem is that you may not be brushing effectively.
First, teach your dog to lie on his side for grooming. Brush in layers starting at the feet and belly and work up toward the spine.
After you think you've got it all brushed, go back with a metal comb and comb through to check your work. Any knots will show themselves with the comb.
Also, the sound of the brush going through the coat will tell you if there are knots. You'll hear that the sound will be harsher when matting is present.
It's very easy to accidentally clip into the "quick" of a dog's nails when trimming them. This is especially true when the nails are dark. If you cut into the quick and there is bleeding, it's a good idea to use some styptic powder, which will aid in clotting.
• Dip your finger into the powder and gently dab it onto the tip of the nail. Styptic powder can be obtained at most pet stores in the grooming section.
• If you are caught without any powder you can try using a little cornstarch or flour in the same manner.
Unless your dog frequently runs through the mud, it generally is not necessary to bathe him too often. A bath every month or so should suffice. Keep in mind that too many baths can dry out your dog's skin, causing flaking and itching.
Always use a shampoo specifically formulated for a dog's skin and fur. Veterinary dermatologists or skin care specialists say you can bathe your dog once a week with a dog shampoo, but be wary. If your dog seems to have skin irritation or itchiness, it may be from over bathing!
There are a few different types of grooming products available for you to trim your dog's nails. You can use either a standard scissor type clipper or a guillotine one. Scissor type clippers have the clipping mechanism located at the end of the tool and work to open and close much like a scissor. The guillotine clipper is a hinged tool with the cutting device also located at the end of the tool. Both work equally well and are a matter of preference.
A third option to use to trim your canine's nails is the grinder, which sands the nails down to the level desired.
Clipper irritation, sometimes referred by its less desirable name, clipper burn, occurs when your dog's hair is shaved close and a skin irritation occurs. Clipper irritation typically happens with dogs that have sensitive skin. Don't let your pooch scratch and create an infected area.
You can try applying baby powder, benadryl cream, or emu oil to help relieve the itching. It is also helpful to mention to the groomer on your next visit that your dog is sensitive so they can compensate by leaving the hair a bit longer.
Groomers offer a wide variety of services and they're not just for fluffing up that fancy poodle. Here's the lowdown on some of the services they offer to spruce up your canine.
• Inspection – The groomer or bather will examine your pet for areas that need specific attention. They'll check for any fur matting, ear dirt or wax, and nail length. This is the time that they'll figure out what's needed for the grooming style of your dog.
• Brushing and Combing (Removing Mats) – Long haired dogs and their undercoats are prone to fur matting. Water will make fur matting worse, especially in the case of curly, long hair. The coat must be combed or brushed out and any mats removed prior to bathing.
• Nail Trim – Unless your dog gets a lot of pavement time, she'll need a nail trimming every so often. If your dog hates getting her nails trimmed, the groomer can handle this for you.
• Cleaning ears – Cleaning the ears will remove any wax or dirt buildup that may be sticking to your pooch's ears. This will help keep her from getting any ear infections.
• Coat pre-clipping – If you have a Chow chow with a style to maintain or Bichon Frise who needs a trim, she'll get the main part of her trim during the pre-clipping.
It is important to both you and the dog to establish and adhere to a regular schedule of dog grooming. Make it a convenient time for both you and your dog. A good time to do this is after the dog has been walked, while he is relieved and calm. Select a time when you will not be interrupted and have ample time to do a proper dog grooming.
Longhaired dogs should be brushed and combed daily, while shorthaired breeds may require dog grooming only twice a week. You will soon be able to tell what frequency your dog requires.
How often your pet needs a shampoo is a different question. Most pets require a thorough bathing at least every 4-6 weeks to stay clean and odor free. Depending upon your family's lifestyle and whether your pet spends time outdoors, you may want to shampoo more frequently. With modern and natural dog shampoos available it's safe to wash your dog as often as once a week.
Dog grooming can be a stressful time for a dog, so do what you can to help him through it. There are soap free natural dog shampoos that also use specific ingredients to alleviate stress through aromatherapy. You can also use these products at home to make bath time less stressful for everyone. Here's a quick guide to aromatic pet soaps:
• Peppermint and spearmint can be used to treat stress and promote relaxation. These soaps can also contain honey, which helps the skin retain moisture, and oatmeal, when ground fine nourishes the skin and helps with any itchy skin conditions.
• Vanilla is known to reduce frustration and when paired with lavender, which promotes healing, you have a great aromatic soap.
• Cinnamon leaf is great for antiseptic and cleansing. And it's also a natural antibiotic.
• Citronella and eucalyptus are both terrific as a natural insect repellents and deodorizers for to freshen up your dog.
A dog's ears provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. To keep your dog's ears in top shape, clean them on a regular basis with a cotton ball and hydrogen peroxide or a commercial ear cleaning product available at most pet stores.
Dogs that have ear infections may frequently shake their heads and paw at them. Look for signs of redness and pus or odors. Long eared dogs such as the Cocker Spaniel may be especially prone to having ear infections.
It's a good idea to brush your dog's teeth on a regular basis to avoid cavities, gum disease, and the loss of teeth. Chewing rawhides, rubber dog toys, and dry dog food, may slow down some plaque and tartar build-up, but brushing your dog's teeth is vital for keeping them in top shape. It's always best to start when your dog is young. You can use a regular human toothbrush or a latex thimble with bristles for toy breeds.
Start by massaging your dog's lips and gums for a few weeks to get him accustomed to the sensation of having his teeth brushed. Then, you can begin using a dab of canine toothpaste on a toothbrush and start your canine on his way to good dental hygiene. Always brush in a small circular motion and make your way from one side of the mouth to the other.
If you have a long haired dog and his fur is matted, there is a solution. There are a number of conventional de-matting tools available. However, in most cases, you can use a tool called a stripping knife. This grooming instrument typically has a wooden handle and a beveled, toothed blade which helps to detangle the fur. The best way to use the stripping knife is to hold the mat and work the tool through the hair just above the mat.
If your dog has a large patch of matted fur, you may be able to detangle a portion of the mat itself with the stripper and then use a comb for the remaining portion. Using this technique may save some of the hair. Remember not to hack through or clip a hunk of hair off to remove a mat.
You can also try rubbing cream rinse into the mat and dab a little water as you go. Use a mat breaker (this tool resembles a brush, but typically has stainless steel blades to break apart the tangles) or comb to finish.
Grooming doesn't just make your dog look good. Dog grooming is an essential part of continued health. And it's a great way for you and your dog to spend some quality time together. As you brush, comb and examine your dog, you're doing something that benefits both you and your pooch. And it's not very difficult, in most cases (fancy French Poodles aside). Anyone can master dog grooming. All you need are some dog combs, a dog brush, doggie nail clippers and some dog shampoo. We'll give some tips here to help you make your dog grooming time a special time for both of you.
A great alternative to using bottled dog shampoo is packaged dog bath wipes. These wipes are towels that come embedded with a cleaning agent that will take the grime off your pooch and keep him smelling fresh. It's a quick way to bath your dog until the next time you canine gets tub time.
If you run out of dog shampoo, do not use human shampoo on your pet dog. Shampoo for people does not have the correct pH balance for dogs, and may damage hair or skin.
When you've finished giving your dog his bath, get him dry and warm. Use an absorbent towel to thoroughly dry him off. Quickly wrap the towel around him to prevent getting sprayed by a very wet "shake dry" by your dog. You should rub vigorously and treat the drying process as affection for your pooch.
Blow dry to fluff the fur, or use a specifically designed animal dryer for high performance. Keep your dog warm and out of drafts until he's all dried off.
Generally, short-haired and hairless dogs need less grooming than long-haired dogs.
Active dogs that spend a lot of time outside in wet and dirty environments are going to need more grooming than less active or indoor dogs. You'll often be able to tell when your dog needs shampooing by the odor. For specifics on exactly what is recommended for your dog grooming or dog shampooing, ask your vet or breeder.
The specific gear you need is going to depend on your dog and your overall dog grooming plans, but here are some basics:
* Brushes: Use oval pin brushes, or slicker brushes for long-haired dogs. Check the brushes my running them down your own arms. If they irritate you, that means the bristles are too hard. Look for something softer.
* Combs: You use a standard dog comb for short-haired breeds, but longer-haired breeds and those who tend toward tangles and snarls are going to need to look at dog rakes, which can help clean out undercoats on shedding breeds, like Golden Retrievers.
* Nail Clippers: Nail clippers come in sizes for small and large dogs. Styptic powder will help stem bleeding if you cut too close.
* Shampoos: Dog shampoos come in dozens of different brands, including Best Shot, Espree and Chris Christiensen.
If you're wondering whether you should groom your short haired, dog, the answer is yes. Even if you canine's fur doesn't require much work, grooming is an excellent way to strengthen the bond between yourself and your dog. In addition, some short haired dogs do shed quite a bit and if yours does, grooming your dog will help reduce the amount of fur around the house.
So get that brush out and start grooming your canine. Your dog's coat will be healthier and you'll be able to detect any skin problems like lumps and skin irritations.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|