Taking your dog to the groomer may be a regular thing, but do you arrive and dread
the groomer looking at the state of your dog with those eyes and that “oh dear”
expression? Can you take care of your dogs basic grooming needs in the comfort
and familiar environment of your home?
If your dog’s coat has grown so long that it looks like they’re wearing your nans old fake fur coat, and their coat is starting to resemble your fancy dress wig (that was
dragged through the dirt and left out in the yard), it’s time to brush up on dog grooming skills.
This will also build a strong bond between you and your pet and is a
great way to spend extra time with them. Letting too much time pass in between grooming sessions can put your dog’s health at risk, as well as your pocket and sanity next time you take them to the groomers.
I am sure your groomer will advise you to try and keep your dogs coat as best as you
can between grooms and avoid them having to do that drastic clip, to remove any
matts that are so uncomfortable for your dog.
I myself have a horse and when at college many moons ago, I remember being in a
lecture and being asked why I should groom my horse and thinking (oh dear I don’t)
Not only does regular brushing keep any coat looking well, it promotes the circulation
and stimulates the release of natural oils into the coat.
You can perform many grooming tasks safely in the comfort of your home. You don't
need sophisticated, expensive equipment for easy tasks like brushing and the odd
bath. This also helps with that annoying hair that travels around your house at de-shedding
First areas to be conscious of is your dog's face. It's very easy for your dog to pick up deposits or even get an eyelash that will turn in, which is a common cause of eye-watering, but sometimes infections are responsible. Some dog's inherit eye abnormalities, which cause their eyes to water constantly, and which cause brown stains. A puppy's eyes often water during teething.
How to Clean Your Dog’s Face
Use a soft damp cloth to wipe around your dog’s eyes. Dirt and crust (from tears) tend to collect here, and too much build-up can lead to an infection. This also allows you to check the eyes for any signs of reddening or swelling.Your pup’s eyes need to remain moist. Dry eyes can affect your dog’s ability to see or lead to irritation.
Check your dog's nose
The nose of a healthy dog is moist most of the time. Your dog’s nose feels dry, It could be due to dry air, dehydration, sunburn, or other reasons. It's normal for a dog's nose to become a little dry at different points throughout the day, for instance during a long nap. With some dogs loving to put their noses where they shouldn’t and get them covered in dirt, these can also be wiped off with a soft damp cloth as needed. If you dogs nose becomes over dry and cracked seek professional advice.
Keeping your dog's teeth clean.
Keep an eye on your dog’s teeth, Plaque and tartar also build up on your pup’s teeth
without frequent care. Brush your dog's teeth a couple of times a week. Do not use human toothpaste, a canine toothpaste is a must. Giving your dog a chew on certain treats will also help clean their teeth. Accumulation of tartar in dogs that have soft diets or processed food can create a problem. Left neglected, it can cause gum disease and tooth decay.
If your dog is not fed safe, raw bones, his teeth will need regular brushing to remove plaque.
Where the mouth looks red and infected, or smells offensive, then a vet should be consulted.
Brushing Your Dog’s Coat
You should brush your dog’s coat to ensure they always look and feel their best.
Matted hair should always be addressed immediately if you notice it. Matting
reduces air circulation and can lead to severe medical problems for dogs and indeed
all animals with longer hair, of all ages, from skin irritation and infected lesions to
insufficient blood supply and strangulating wounds.
If you get your dog as a puppy, starting to groom them at home helps them become
accustomed to handing as well as grooming, always remember to start with a soft
small brush, research what is the best starting brush for your particular breed of
Brushing your dog's coat daily helps remove dirt and dead hair, get rid of tangles, keep
the coat smooth and shiny, and helps to prevent matting. If your dog has long hair, you
de-matter, all of which can help to keep the coat from matting. Remember to feel your
dogs coat with your hands as sometimes matts hide deep in the coat, and you might
think you are feeling skin when in fact you are touching a matt.
Pay special attention to areas that rub, collar area, between the legs, hygiene area, (ask your groomer for advice on what brush and where to take extra care).
A grooming mitt or glove brush is perfect for short-haired dogs and will help to keep
the de-sheding hair spreading around your house. Brushing your dog’s coat, a
couple of times a week will keep it in a good condition. If your dog has curly hair that
is more prone to tangling and matting, brushing their coat daily will help keep it
smooth and detangled if done with the correct brush and care. Curly coated breeds
do take more looking after and if you have doubts of how to take care of your dogs
coat, ask your groomer, they may advise a detangling spray to use alongside your
brushing. If you want to read more on grooming the curly coated breed, here's a great article. How to groom a Cockerpoo.
As we come into the wet season, making sure your dog is dried off if they get wet
and brushed once it is dry will help your dog remain in great condition. A lot of us like
to give them a bath if they come in from outside wet and muddy, remember to use a
dog formulated shampoo, this is so the right PH level shampoo is used on the dog.
Most dogs only need to be bathed once or twice a month. But for dogs that shed a
lot, bathing them once a week will help remove dead hair and pet dander.
Remove any matts before you get the dog wet, as water will only tighten any matter
areas. Wet the dog with warm never hot water, add a little shampoo to your hands
and rub like you would your own hair, take care not to get water and shampoo into
the eyes and ears. A soft cloth can be used around the face to help clean that area.
Rinse the dog off until you are sure you cannot see any more soap in the coat. You
can use a towel to dry the dog off and take the excess moisture off the coat. No one
likes that wet dog smell, which is totally natural. A cold setting on a hair dryer can be
used and you can brush as you dry. (Do not use a hot setting) Your groomer may
also be able to advise a fragrance spray to keep your dog smelling at its best, for you
at home. (Just remember your dog does not have the same sense of what they smell
like as you do, and wet dog is their smell).
Want to know more on how to Bath Your Dog? Here's our Ultimate Guide to Bathing Your Dog
Check your dog's nails and paws.
Overgrown nails can cause walking difficulties in dogs. Also, long nails easily break
or curve inwards and even pierce the paw pads. You can use a nail file to take off
any sharp edges between grooms and looking at them will make sure you spot any
issues before they get too bad. If you are confident, you can always use a good quality nail clipper, taking off small pieces of the nail as you go. Some dogs have long blood vessels in their nails because the nails have not been trimmed back on a regular basis since puppyhood, and very little nail can be cut.
Declaws is an additional nail that can become a problem in some active dogs because they easily get torn away from the foot. In the pet dog, declaws are not required at all, but should be checked every week.
Use a clean, damp cloth to clean between the paw pads, checking for anything
between the pads, which can cause discomfort and health risks if something
penetrates the skin between the toes. This is a good time to also keep the hair short between the pads by using a pair of safety scissors. It's not a difficult task, but if you read this article it will guide you to what is required to trim your dog's paw hair with scissors. You should keep your dog’s paws moist, protected, and prevent cracked paws by applying a good paw balm.
Check your Dog's Ears.
One area that dog's can suffer, is with their ears. It is advisable that when you check and clean your dog's face to include the ears, otherwise a build-up of grease can cause canker.
It's an easy task to do, just gently hold the ear flap back, and clean the ear with a soothing ear cleaner or alcohol if necessary and apply ear powder to ensure the ear stays healthy and mite-free. After applying the ear powder and leaving it in for a few minutes, use forceps to clean the hair from the ear, removing tiny bits of hair at a time. This will be less painful than using your fingers.
Ear infections can be a nightmare to clear-up, because the ear is a perfect place for infection to flourish. It is a good idea to check the ears on a regular basis and to clean out the offending excess hair and wax. Equally overzealous ear cleaning can aggravate the situation, so it is a matter of getting the right balance.
Allergies is a prime cause of ear infections, so it's always best to consult your vet.
A quick sum up
Groom your dog regularly, brush their coat often, and be sure to bathe them as
Be patient and gentle. Dogs can sense your stress, so make sure that you’re calm
before beginning. Give yourself plenty of time, and pay close attention to what you’re
doing to avoid harming your dog.
Use appropriate equipment designed for your dog. Never be tempted to use human
toiletries or tools.
Know your limits. Never attempt something that you’re unsure or apprehensive
about. You could end up making a mistake and harming your dog along the way.
Contact your local vet or groomer in these situations.
As you can see, it is not that hard maintaining your dog’s coat while at home - but
there are some tasks you should leave for your vet or professional groomer. Such
services include assessing your dog for any skin diseases and parasites.
A vet or professional groomer will be able to check your dog for skin conditions or
undetected diseases. Once they spot any early signs of illness, they can give your
dog the best care and recommend the appropriate course of action.
Your groomer will be happy to advise any particular breed specifics when
maintaining your dog’s coat at home, as it will only help them when you at last
present them with a well maintained dog at your next appointment.