Grooming can be a great opportunity to spend quality time with your dog and help keep them looking and feeling their best. Here's more on the basics of dog grooming from our Carrollton vets.
Grooming for Dogs
The grooming needs of your dog will be largely dependent upon the breed of your dog and their lifestyle. Typically, longer-haired dogs will require more grooming than shorthair breeds, and dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors will require more grooming than indoor dogs.
That said, basic grooming for dogs usually includes bathing, brushing, nail trimming, and (depending on the breed) haircuts.
Bathing will help to remove dirt and debris from your dog's coat and keep your dog's skin healthy. That said, bathing your dog too frequently can irritate their skin, damage hair follicles, and increase their risk of bacterial or fungal infections.
Your dog's bathing schedule will depend on the type of fur they have and how dirty your dog gets. Giving your dog a bath once a month to once every three months should be sufficient. Use warm water and shampoo that has been specially formulated for dogs. (Shampoos formulated for people may cause skin irritations).
If your dog has very long or curly hair, dog formulated conditioners and detanglers are also available to make brushing easier. Use as directed.
If your dog is nervous about water, start slow. Try standing your dog in a dry bathtub, and offering a treat for good behavior. Gradually move to have your dog stand in a dry bath while you use a wet sponge to clean them. Then incrementally move towards giving your dog a full bath.
Many dogs love to be brushed. Brushing removes dead hair from your dog’s coat which can help to prevent skin irritation and matting. For most breeds, regular weekly brushing will keep your dog looking great and help to reduce the amount of dog hair around the house. Dogs with active outdoor lifestyles, or who have longer coats may need to be brushed more frequently, while shorthaired breeds may only need to be brushed once a month.
Be sure to use a clipper specifically designed for dogs when trimming your dog's nails. A rotary trimmer can be a safer alternative, but it will take longer to use. By starting to trim your dog's nails when they are still young you will learn to be more confident and your dog will likely be more tolerant of having you clip their nails.
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 is able to 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.
If you’re not comfortable trimming your dog's nails yourself (or if your dog won't tolerate it), consider having it done by a qualified professional.
When it comes to haircuts, different breeds have different needs. Speak to your vet or a professional groomer to find out exactly how often (or if at all) your dog should get a haircut, and how it should be done To cut your dog's hair at home, bathe your dog first using good quality dog shampoo, then towel dry and brush your pooch. Use sharp scissors to trim the fur around the face and feet, and electric clippers for the rest of the body.
If you'd prefer to avoid the mess of doing haircuts yourself, or if your dog is anxious or fidgety, you may want to take your dog to visit a professional groomer. Groomers have all the tools they need and are trained in keeping dogs relaxed during the grooming process.
Grooming Anxious or Nervous Dogs
Grooming is an important part of caring for your dog's wellbeing. Matted fur, goopy ears, and overly long nails are uncomfortable for your dog and can lead to more serious health issues if left unattended. Bathing, brushing, ear cleaning, nail trimming, and grooming can quickly become a nightmare if your dog is nervous or anxious about the grooming process.
Below are just a few ways that you can help your dog relax and enjoy the grooming process:
- 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 combined with regular exercise and annual examinations, including essential vaccines and parasite prevention will help to keep your dog happy and healthy.