Proper dog grooming is about more than doggie hairstyles or being best in show—it is an essential part of the life of any healthy dog. Dogs, just like people, need regular baths and other physical maintenance. Regular grooming also will keep you in sync with changes in your dog’s health, and builds the bond between you and your four-legged friend.
Whether you opt to send your dog to a professional groomer or are comfortable with DIY dog grooming, there are some basics that every pet parent should know. Keep reading for the quick-and-dirty on how to groom your dog.
We know that you want your furry friend looking as fine as you do, so keep that coat sleek by regularly brushing it. Brushing is essential for preventing the buildup of dirt in their coat in between baths and reducing shedding in medium and long haired dogs.
Make sure you to use the right type of brush to make brushing comfortable and effective. How you often should brush your dog depends on their fur type:
- Long haired dogs need to be brushed daily to keep their locks luscious and untangled.
- Medium haired dogs should be brushed weekly to prevent matting.
- Short-haired dogs are the most low-maintenance in the hair department, and can get by with being brushed every few weeks.
Apart from hygienic reasons, brushing is a great chance to bond with your dog. Talking to them and messaging their coat as you brush will strengthen your relationship, so feel free to brush even your short haired dog daily.
Dog bathing day may not be the highlight of your calendar (here’s how to change that "How To Get Your Dog To Enjoy Bath Time" ), but the rewards for their health — and your nose — are definitely worth it.
So, how often should you bathe your dog? The answer depends on their breed and lifestyle. Once a month ought to do the trick for most dogs, but up to once a week is a better choice for long haired dogs or those that spend a lot of time outdoors.
When bathing your dog, step one is choosing the right shampoo. Here’s a hint—it’s not yours! Dogs can be sensitive to the chemicals in human shampoo, so you should choose a dog shampoo from your local or online pet store that is suitable for your dog’s fur type, age, and special needs like dryness or fleas. When rinsing, place a hand above their eyes to avoid any irritation from the shampoo.
Bath time is also a chance for you to give your dog a checkup. Whenever giving your dog a bath, give them a once-over for ticks, fleas, and any abnormalities or wounds underneath their coat.
Pay special attention to their ears, belly, and collar area, as these areas can be party zones for dirt and critters. Checking for these can alert you to any issues you might not notice while palling around, before they become serious.
Too often, nail trimming can be like a trip to the DMV of the canine world—long, painful, and invoking sudden flashes of rage. Similarly, many pet parents are nervous about hurting their special pooch. However, it doesn’t need to be unpleasant for either party.
Dogs’ nails contain nerves and blood vessels close to the paw, in an area called ‘the quick’. Accidentally cutting into the quick will cause your dog discomfort and bleeding, so have your veterinarian teach you how to trim dog nails correctly. Alternately, you can opt to file down the nails instead of clipping them, if that’s more comfortable for you.
If you still quail at the thought of wielding a sharp implement at your pooch, make a date to visit the local dog groomer together and have a professional take care of it. Regardless of who does the trimming, make sure it gets done about once a month. Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors might not need it as frequently because of the natural wear on their nails from their environment.
Say what?? It’s true—dogs have teeth, and those teeth must be brushed. Most veterinarians recommend brushing a dog’s teeth once a day, but if this seems a bit ambitious, 2-3 times a week is enough to keep dogs’ mouths fresh.
Human toothpaste contains ingredients that can upset dogs’ stomachs, so be sure to use dog toothpaste. Along with dog toothpaste, you’ll also want to use a special toothbrush or brush strips, which are designed to allow you to get those hard to reach places without hurting your dog. All of these can be purchased at a pet store or online retailer.
If teeth brushing hasn’t been a regular part of your dog’s life, start out by slowly acclimating them to the feel. Start massaging your dog’s muzzle about a week before introducing toothpaste. After this, give them the chance to get used to the taste of toothpaste by dabbing it on their lips a few nights. Next, let them get acquainted with the toothbrush. Don’t force it on them by holding them down or in a headlock.
Now you are ready to start brushing your dog’s teeth! Try to reach as far back as is comfortable for you and your dog in order to get all the bacteria that can hang out in those places.
The Holy Grail of dog grooming! Haircuts are a necessary part of every canine beauty regimen, especially if you want to have a clean dog. There’s a fairly large margin of error when it comes to cutting any kind of hair, which is why dog haircuts are the grooming task we humans tend to pass off to more qualified humans the most.
Dogs with continuously growing hair should be trimmed every 6-8 weeks, while long haired dogs need it about once a month. Brushing your dog daily reduces matting and earns you a little extra time in between trims.
Your local groomer can usually take knock out a trim and bath in one visit. If you do decide to do it yourself, register for a DIY pet grooming class first to avoid hurting your dog.
A clean dog is a healthy dog, whether you decide to groom your pet yourself with the help of these dog grooming tips or to find a professional. Now go forth, pet parents, and groom thy dog!