What Are The Basics of Dog Grooming?

As with humans, it is important that our dogs and pets maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep up their appearances. It is our main goal to make the process of grooming as enjoyable as possible for the dog, starting slowly and rewarding with treats! If your dog is new to grooming then it is best to break up the process over several days, as some grooming treatments are needed less frequently than others. Most of all, we want you to enjoy this experience and create a special bond with your perfectly pampered pooch.

Nails, Brushing, Bathing and Trimming are all areas that require special attention, read on if you want to find out more! 

How to clip my puppies nails

Daily exercise and walks with your dog should keep nails in good condition and length, as they are naturally worn down. However, long nails can cause problems and discomfort in walking and should be maintained according to each dog’s individual needs, generally once a month. 

With love and respect, using dog nail trimmers, position your dog so that you are able to see the underside of the paw when cutting. Be careful of cutting the nail too short, as this can cause the ‘quick’ or blood vessels in the nail to bleed. In white/transparent nails, the blood vessel is clearly visible. In black nails you will notice a tiny dot surrounded by white when you start to get close to the blood vessel. Styptic powder stops bleeding when nails are cut too short but if you do not feel comfortable, see a professional! Nail grinders are also a safe way of smoothing and shortening the nails. 

How should I brush my dog’s hair?

All dogs benefit from having their coat brushed, even short haired Bulldogs! Brushing removes loose hairs and spreads naturally occurring oils throughout the hair for a shiny, healthy finish.

Brushing should come before bathing and in some circumstances may reduce the need for a full wash. A hair grooming session will help strengthen the positive relationship between dogs and their owners, allowing for trust and cooperation with more demanding techniques such as nail trimming! 

It is important to ensure the brushing experience is always comfortable and soothing for the dog so proceed slowly, patting them on the chest, shoulders and sides, gradually working towards other areas of the body. Once they get used to the general handling of different parts of the body, you can start introducing them to brushes, combs and other tools. 

A quick guide to hair types and brushes

Hair TypeBrush TypeAlternate Brush Type
Very Short Hair Rubber Curry Brush
Bristle Brush
Short HairRubber Curry BrushShedding Tool
Short/Thick Hair Undercoat RakeShedding Tool
Medium HairSlicker BrushUndercoat Rake
Straight HairPin BrushDematting Tool

How often should I bathe my dog?

Once brushed, a dog may need a full pampering in the bath! A common reason to bathe a dog is to remove unpleasant odours and dirt that has accumulated on their body. As your dog is benefiting from frequent hair brushing, the need for a full bath should generally be once a month. Your local vet can provide guidance as to whether your dog would benefit from a more frequent bathing schedule. 

How to wash my dog

Prepare yourself for bathtime by using the correct products and equipment for your dog. Hypoallergenic shampoo made especially for dogs is best, never use a human shampoo! Test a small area with the product first to ensure there is no reaction or irritation and seek professional help for dogs with special skin conditions. Overwashing the hair can cause the skin to dry out so be sure to also use a conditioner

It is also important to choose the best environment to wash your dog in, bigger dogs may be best suited outdoors, with a hose, whilst smaller dogs can be washed in a tub. If possible, use a flexible spray attachment or a bucket and ladle and let the water run through the drain, just like a shower! Finally prepare the dog by covering the ear canals with cotton balls, this prevents infections by not allowing any water to get inside.

When washing your dog, start from the back and work carefully towards the head, avoiding the eyes. Saline solution can be used to rinse out any shampoo afterwards. Rinse thoroughly and rinse again! Leftover shampoo can lead to dandruff and skin irritation. Help them to dry off with an absorbent towel and allow it to dry naturally. If you must use a hair dryer, use a cool setting and keep a clear distance from the skin. Use a damp cloth to wash the face, as to not get soap in the eyes or ears. 

Remember to be patient! Teach your puppy to be comfortable with handling in general and praise and reward good behaviour. This will help your dog to associate bathing with positive thoughts and be a great experience for you both.

A little tip…
Take your dog for a stroll before bathtime, this way your dog will be tired after exerting some energy and will more likely remain calm in the tub!

How to brush my dog’s teeth

Dogs are prone to periodontal disease and dental problems from as young as three years old. Gum disease can cause abscesses, heart disease and worse, teeth falling out. Daily dental care can help to avoid the build up of bad bacteria, chewing also helps keep teeth and gums healthy and is natural behaviour for a dog. Progress slowly at first, by allowing the dog to lick and sniff the toothpaste, specially made for dogs (never use a human toothpaste). Use fingertips to begin with and gradually work towards using a dog toothbrush. If your dog seems irritated by this technique there are dental sprays and wipes that can be used instead.

How should I care for my dog’s ears?

The ears, eyes and paws of a dog require special care and attention to avoid the outbreak of infections and discomfort. Ears should be cleaned with an ear cleaner or witch hazel on a cotton ball. If the cotton balls come out gunky, there is likely to be an infection and you should seek medical advice. If your dog shows no signs of an ear problem, it is usually best to leave them alone.

How should I care for my dog’s eyes?

Your dog’s eyes should be checked over once a week, if not more. They should be clear of any cloudiness with minimal redness, a sign of an eye infection would be if there is discharge seeping from the eye, caused by injury or allergic reactions. The hairs around the eyes should also be trimmed, with blunt nosed scissors,  to avoid irritation. 

How should I care for my dog’s paws? 

Another important area to be mindful of, is the hair between the pads on the bottom of a dog’s paw, from walking and daily exercise the paws can come into contact with pesticides, salt and debris from the ground causing hair to become matted and sometimes, uncomfortable lumps. If you feel comfortable to trim the hair, do so, but many vets and groomers will be happy to assist. 

How should I trim my dog’s hair?

Common bodily areas that may require regular hair trimming for dogs include the eyes, ears, chin and paws. Energetic animals and blades can be a scary combination, if you don’t feel comfortable trimming your dog then seek a professional, they would love to help! 

If you do decide to trim your dog, be mindful that you may nick or injure the dog and proceed with caution. Keep the clipper blades flat against the skin and use an attachment comb to keep the blade away from the body. The blades can get very hot, so make sure you check the temperature with the inside of your forearm. 

Notable areas that require attention are around the eye, to ensure hair isn’t obstructing the dogs vision or causing irritation. Hair growing around the chin and jaw may trap food and require trimming to prevent lip infections. Areas that can mat and tangle should be trimmed and anywhere that can trap dirt and debris. 

And that concludes the basics of dog grooming, you and your precious pup are now well equipped with advice to be best in show! Groomers are well stocked with everything you need, from shampoos and conditioners to nail clippers and trimmers. Remember to shower your dog with care and affection, taking it step by step and you’ll have the best groomed dog in town.

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