Dos and Donts for Good Grooming: Part I The Basics for All Dogs

There are many responsibilities that come with owning a dog.  One responsibility that is too often overlooked by many owners, or not considered before getting a dog, is grooming.  Whether you have a dog with a short coat, a longhaired dog or a wirehaired dog, grooming is an important part of their regular care.  So, before you get any dog it’s important for you to consider what kind of grooming needs the dog will have.

Whether you groom your dog yourself or take your dog to a groomer, there are some things that all dogs need to have done on a regular basis, no matter what kind of coat they have.

Dogs need to have their nails trimmed regularly.  Most dogs’ nails are not worn down naturally so they need to be trimmed about once a week.  There are several good kinds of nail trimmers for the job such as a scissors style which is good for small dogs with small nails; a guillotine style nail trimmer; a larger scissors type trimmer with a backstop which is good for larger dogs with thicker nails; pet nail sanders which operate on a rotary principle; and a rotary sander type tool often used by dog show people and professional groomers.  You can really use any of these nail trimmers to trim your dog’s nails and they will do the job, especially if you only take off a tiny amount of nail each week.

Believe it or not, if you start trimming your puppy’s nails when he’s young, without any trauma or distress, you can do his nails in just a few minutes each week without any trouble.  Give your dog treats as you do each nail and your dog will actually relax and look forward to having his nails done.  (Yes, I know that this isn’t true for all dogs, but it can be done!)  The trick is to only remove a small amount of nail at any time.  Only remove clear nail and never nick the quick of the nail (the white part visible inside the clear nail) which would hurt and make the nail bleed.  It’s better to remove less nail and be safe than to remove too much nail.

Another important thing that dogs should have done on a weekly basis is have their ears cleaned.  This isn’t a difficult task in most cases.  You can get a good ear cleaner from Dogs’ Den’s online retail boutique offering you a simple 2 part ear aid programme or from your veterinarian or local pet store.  All it takes is a few drops into the deepest part of your dog’s ear.  Then you should gently massage the base of the ear to loosen any wax, dirt or debris.  Use a soft piece of cotton to wipe away the material that is loosened and brought up to the top of the ear folds.  If the cotton is very dirty you should repeat.

It’s especially important to keep ears clean in dogs with flop ears such as Cocker Spaniels since they are particularly prone to ear infections.  Dogs with prick ears have more air circulating in the ear naturally so there is usually less chance of an infection getting started in the ear.  Some breeds such as a few terriers have ears with hair that grows in them that needs to be plucked out to allow the air to circulate.  Find out what’s normal for your breed with regard to ear care.

It’s also important for you to brush your dog’s teeth at least once a week.  Some veterinarians recommend brushing more often but, realistically, most people will probably do well to brush their dog’s teeth once a week.  Brushing your dog’s teeth isn’t difficult, provided you have the proper implements and your dog is willing.  You can find toothbrushes for dogs and doggy toothpaste at pet stores for a small cost.  The toothbrushes are specially angled to fit in a dog’s mouth.  The toothpaste is made for dogs and comes in flavors such as beef, peanut butter, chicken and so on.  You should not use human toothpaste for dogs since it contains ingredients that can be harmful to dogs.  Most dogs don’t mind having their teeth brushed since they enjoy the taste of the doggy toothpaste.  They think it’s a treat and like to eat it.  If you let your dog taste the toothpaste first and then place some on the toothbrush, your dog probably won’t object to having his teeth brushed.  You should brush them just as you would brush your own teeth.  Remember to reach far into the back and brush everywhere.  There is no need to rinse.  You can leave the toothpaste in place.

You can also clean your dog’s teeth with doggy dental bones and other specially designed dog dental products.  Some people also like to use raw meaty bones for this purpose.

These are some of the basics of grooming that all dogs need to have done on a regularly. Later we’ll discuss some of the grooming Do’s and Don’ts for dogs of different coat types.  Remember that your dog depends on you for all his care, including grooming, so don’t let him down.

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