Dog Grooming Tips to Keep Your Fido Looking Sharp
Most of us want to do the best for our pooch. And, that includes grooming. Having a dog means that grooming and hygiene should be part of your dog’s routine. In many cases, a groomer is not necessary; we can do much of this ourselves. Whether your dog is short or long-coated (or even hairless), here are some nose-to-tail tips to help you keep Fido or Fifi clean and shiny:
Look at your dog’s nose leather (the skin of the nose). Is it dry and cracked or soft and supple? A special trick to keep the schnoz soft is good old lip balm. It keeps our lips soft and kissable – why not Poochie’s nose? You can apply it directly with a finger, but if the pup shrinks at the attempt (and you don’t mind doing this), put a generous amount on your lips, then give them a big ol’ smooch on the nose and rub it in! Tip: Avoid the mentholated balms; use unscented if possible.
Most grooming concerns about eyes involve tearstains on light-colored dogs. Poodles, Bichons, Maltese and others seem to have the worst problems with this. It’s not harmful, but it is unsightly and can mar an otherwise beautiful white coat. To banish tearstains for good, use a product specifically for the purpose. You can find them at any pet supply store. Tip: Do not use peroxide or bleaching agents near your dog’s eyes. You can seriously damage the eyes. For routine cleaning: Take a damp, soft cloth and ever so gently, wipe around the dog’s eye, just around the outside edges of the lids. If there is a leftover goober in the corner of the eye, use a cotton swab and again, very gently, sweep the material away.
Many of us have been told we should not stick anything in our ears smaller than our elbow (who thought that up?). But a dog’s dog ears are designed a bit differently. The ear canal in a dog goes down a bit before turning at almost a right angle toward the brain. This little fact should take some of the anxiety away from cleaning your dog’s ears. For drop-eared dogs (golden retrievers, spaniels, scent hounds, etc.) keeping the ears clean is critical, as they are prone to ear infections. This link provides a diagram of the inside of a dog’s ear and offers tips on detecting ear infections. Generously apply an ear cleaning solution onto a cotton ball. If you can find any with natural eucalyptus and/or tea tree oil, all the better. Both have antiseptic and antibacterial properties, which can stop an early infection in its tracks. Swipe the part of the ear that you can easily get to with the cotton ball and your fingers. This video will show you how.
Doggie breath is not normal – or healthy. Okay, you just dread the thought of cleaning Rover’s teeth. But, periodontal disease is one of the most common pet ailments. It can lead to kidney disease, heart disease, bone loss and premature death – and it’s preventable. Use toothpaste and toothbrushes specially made for pets. Tip: Do not use human toothpaste on your pet! Ingredients in the toothpaste, including fluoride and some artificial sweeteners, can be toxic when Rover swallows it. Use toothpaste made especially for pets and can be swallowed. Dogs love the flavors like chicken and beef, but you can find mint-flavored pet toothpaste, for that hint of minty freshness! Check out this video to see how it’s done.
Most pampered dogs don’t get the chance to scrabble about on hard surfaces to help pare their nails down, so we have to do it for them. Many of you may be afraid to clip the quick – the part of the nail filled with blood and nerve endings. Even getting close to it can cause your pooch pain. Nail grinders have been all the rage, and they’re fine for light, regular maintenance, but if you need to clip off a good portion of nail, appropriately sized nail clippers are best. In the case of accidental cutting into the quick (it happens to the best of us), keep a styptic powder on hand for quick treatment of bleeding. Clipping light colored nails is easy because you can see the quick. Dark nails should be clipped a tiny sliver at a time. After each clip, look at the cut end of the nail. If you see a change in the color of the cut surface, stop clipping. This indicates that you’re close to the quick. For all nails, if the nail is still too long after clipping, wait a few days to a week, then clip again. The quick will slowly recede, so you can clip away a little more each time and get your dog’s nails to the proper length. Use a file or nail grinder to smooth rough edges. This video can help you get started.
Coat and Skin
Long- or short-coated (or naked), your dog is covered with the largest organ in its body: the skin. Keeping the skin healthy means maintaining the coat. Hairless and short-coated dogs need minimal brushing, but use skin conditioners and a good sun block when out in the elements. Dogs with longer coats need regular brushing to help distribute oils into the coat, get rid of dead hair and avoid the dreaded hotspots plaguing some breeds. Single coated dogs like the Maltese, Afghan hound and others are easier to maintain than double-coated breeds, such as Newfoundlands, Samoyeds and collies, which require diligent grooming at certain times of the year, when they shed their fluffy undercoat. Still, some terriers and rough-coated breeds require hand-stripping of the old coat to keep the skin healthy. Poodles, Bichon Frise, Portuguese Water dogs and the like need regular trimming because they have a hair coat, which grows continually and is non-shedding. Grooming your dog can be a real bonding experience for both you and your pooch. Touching a pet in the act of stroking or grooming reaps wonderful emotional benefits – for both pet and owner. Pets and people accustomed to regular grooming are eager for the interaction, which makes the act a joy, rather than a chore. And, you can save some money in the process.