6. Excellent Dog Grooming Habits - How to Keep Your Best Friend Looking and Feeling Great
Good grooming habits are an essential part of your dog's health. While taking him in to a professional grooming service can be a hassle, not to mention expensive, there are many ways that dog owners can take matters into their own hands.
Before you get started, have the following supplies on hand:
- flea comb
- soft bristled brush
- shampoo and conditioner for your pet's specific hair type/breed
- canine toothbrush
- canine toothpaste
- small trimming scissors
- canine nail clippers
- canine nail file
- finishing spray
When you are selecting these items, keep your dog's unique needs in mind. Is he small or large? Does he have long, straight hair or is it short and curly? What about his skin type and any sensitivities that he may have?
Know exactly what you are looking for before you make your purchase, as there are a variety of formulas and styles to choose from in each category.
Your Dog's Clean Teeth Aren't Just For Good Looks
While every dog owner loves seeing a pearly white smile coming from their pet's mouth, clean teeth are also vital to a dog's health. Good oral health can prevent complications beyond tooth decay, such as heart disease and kidney failure.
When you are purchasing the necessary items for this first grooming step, always find a formula and brush that are sold by your vet or a pet store. Never use human toothpaste, as it can be harmful to your dog. Also, a human toothbrush can be too harsh on your dog's sensitive gums. Always buy canine oral care products.
First, slowly pull back your dog's lips and introduce just your fingertips to his gum line. Next, replace your fingertip quickly with the toothbrush, which should have just a small amount of paste upon it. Work slowly, being careful not to irritate the gums.
A light brushing of the gums to remove tartar is fine. Remember to work the tartar off of the base of the tooth near the gums, as this is where it tends to accumulate and cause problems.
Before you get right into bathing your dog, make the experience more effective be prepping his coat. Start by untangling any matted fur slowly with a flea comb or dematting tool. Place the tool at the top of the tangle and work your way down only after upper knots are worked through. Pulling too quickly can create hair loss and bald patches.
Next, part the hairs around the area behind your dog's ears, behind the legs, and near the tail to examine for fleas, along with any irregularities that may need a vet's attention. If you see fleas or “flea dirt” (small patches of black, dirt-like particles), remove them with a flea comb that has been dipped in warm water.
Make sure that the comb is dipped in warm, soapy water for cleaning after each application to ensure that the pests are disposed of properly. If your pet has a serious pest infestation, consider adding a flea treatment or a flea shampoo to your grooming routine.
Wash And Condition
For this step, you should have a shampoo and conditioner that has been made specifically for your dog's coat and skin type, as discussed earlier. First, soak your dog with lukewarm water to prep his fur for the treatment.
Always test the water before exposing your dog to it. It should be much cooler than what you would prefer for yourself, at a temperature just warm enough to provide a bit more cleaning power than cold water would provide.
When you are cleaning your dog's fir, there is no need to rub vigorously. Your dog's shampoo products will easily remove the dirt. However, it is your job to ensure that it reaches the base of the coat near the skin, so run your fingers close to your pet's hairline.
Next, apply a conditioner and rinse completely. Keep in mind that leaving any shampoo or conditioning product on your dog that is not removed through the rinsing process can be damaging to his coat. Concentrate on spending approximately twice as much time pre-rinsing and post-rinsing as actual washing.
Use a residue removal shampoo regularly to remove the buildup of cleaning products that will occur after repeated baths. The time interval that should lapse between each bath and residue removal session will vary depending on the products that you choose, so read label instructions carefully.
Nail and Paw Care
An often overlooked step in the grooming process is nail and paw care. However, well clipped nails and trimmed pad hair will greatly improve the comfort level of your dog. For this step, simply use a professional dog grooming clipper and file set to clip your pet's nails evenly, never going beyond the natural curve of the nail line.
Next, file the nails into a nice rounded shape by starting at the corners and filing only in one direction, preferably upward. Be careful not to file the paw itself on accident or to clip too far into the nail bed, as these are very common and very painful mistakes.
Next, trim the hair that grows in between the pads. Stop when the hairs are even with the pads themselves. Do not attempt to go into the pads to remove hair. Leave this to a grooming professional.
The nail and paw grooming process can be a bit tricky. Dogs are generally quite uncomfortable with having the use of their paws out of their control, even temporarily. Work quickly, but be careful not to sacrifice quality. Stop the nail and paw treatment and refer to a professional if you notice any of the following:
Brush, Inspect, and Scent-The Finishing Touches
Finally, use a soft bristled brush to glide over your dog's newly freshened coat after a bit of drying has taken place. In order to speed the drying process, you may use towels or dog drying cloths.
Never use roughness to dry the fur or to brush out any gnarls that may still exist. While you are brushing, inspect your pet's ears and eyes for signs of unhealthiness. Clean the outside of your dog's eyes with a moist washcloth or cotton ball, and clean the outside of the ears with mineral oil or warm water.
To complete the grooming session, take care of any unwanted odors. If your dog has extreme odors coming from any body part, such as the anal area, ears, or mouth, this could justify a visit with your vet.
Otherwise, select a fresh scented canine body spray to freshen your dog's fur, being careful not to spray into eyes or ears. As deodorants from shampoos are not long lasting, smooth the finishing spray over your pet's coat as necessary to keep him looking and smelling great.