Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How To Groom Your Dog At Home

By Ken Mathie

Well groomed dogs are much healthier than those who are not regularly groomed. Matted or knotted hair can lead to yeast infections, periodontal disease can result from neglected teeth, and ear infections are common in dogs who are not groomed as well. The tips in this article will tell you how to groom your dog at home to keep him healthy, clean, and easy to care for.

Before you get started grooming your dog, make sure you have all the supplies that you will need. Gather items for cleaning your dog's eyes and ears, nail trimmers, as well as hair trimmers or scissors, and teeth and mouth cleaning tools. You will also need shampoo, a heavy towel, and tools to brush your dog's fur.

The first step in grooming your dog is to brush him very thoroughly. Be sure to untangle any knots or matted sections of hair because these will be nearly impossible to remove after they're wet. Use a quality dog brush that will free loose hair and dirt and that will distribute the oils thought your dog's coat. If your dog has short hair, brush out his coat with a glove or curry brush. If your dog has longer hair, you may need a durable pin brush or a slicker, or even an undercoat rake. If you find any mats that can't be removed by brushing, use a trimmer to cut it away. Matted hair that is left unattended can allow bacteria to grow on the skin, resulting in a yeast infection.

To save time and effort, you should take care of any trimming before giving your dog a bath. If you will be cutting away any large sections of your dog's hair, it would simply be a waste of time, energy, and shampoo to wash them first!

Next, you should clean your dog's eyes. The amount of maintenance your dog's eyes require will depend on the type of dog you have. Clean and healthy eyes should be clear with no evidence of irritation, discharge, or other complications. Carefully clean away any debris in the corners of the eyes with warm water. Dogs that are light in color or have long hair may need a special product that removes tear stains to clean their coats.

Cleaning your dog's ears is the next step in grooming. Most dogs do not like their ears being cleaned and your dog may be difficult to keep still. Put a small amount of ear cleaning solution on a cotton ball or small cloth and wipe the inside of your dog's ear to remove any wax or dirt that may have accumulated. Be very gentle so you don't irritate the sensitive skin inside the ear and avoid going to deep into the ear to prevent damage. Dab a few drops of rubbing alcohol into his ear to dry any water and to get rid of any ear mites or bacteria, then wipe the ear one last time with a dry cotton ball or swab. If you see anything unusual with your dog's ears, like irritation, swelling, or an odd odor, you should contact your veterinarian because it could be a sign of infection. Clean, healthy ears should not have an odor and should only contain a small amount of wax. Remember to warm any ear cleaning products, alcohol, or medications in room temperature water before using them inside your dog's ears.

Once you've brushed your dog and removed any matted hair and cleaned his eyes and ears, it is time to clean his teeth. Statistics show that only about 20% of dogs have healthy teeth and are not suffering from periodontal disease. A large buildup of tartar on your dog's teeth will be digested over time, causing problems with his liver and kidney. To avoid these problems, you should clean your dog's teeth at least twice a week.

You can brush your dog's teeth using a toothbrush or a piece of gauze over your fingertip. The Pets Tooth Brush is a specially designed glove with soft bristles on both the thumb and the forefinger. Most dogs are not too fond of having their teeth cleaned, but they typically prefer a human touch like this glove rather than a hard toothbrush. Whatever you use, it may take some time to get your dog comfortable with the process. There are also antimicrobial sprays, like the one made by Petzlife, that can easily be sprayed inside your dog's mouth to kill bacteria. Make sure you use teeth and mouth products made specifically for dogs to prevent accidental poisoning or illness.

If your dog will allow you to, you can use a standard dental scraper to gently remove tartar buildup from his teeth. Simply cleaning his mouth and teeth two to three times a week and giving him rawhide or frozen bones to gnaw on should be enough to keep his teeth clean and healthy. Again, remember to only use pet products in your dog's mouth. Human toothpaste is not made to be swallowed and could make your dog sick.

The last step of grooming you should do before bathing your dog is to attend to his nails. Neglected nails can create all sorts of painful problems. Nails that are too long can cause your dog to walk differently or curl into the bottom of his foot, or even lead to skeletal damage. Puppies or miniature breeds can have their nailed trimmed with regular nail clippers, but most dogs require clippers made specifically for dogs. Only trim a very small piece of the nail and repeat as often as necessary. Most dogs need their nails trimmed about once a week, but some breeds can go for a month before needing trimmed again. If you cut the nail too short and it starts to bleed, apply a small amount of corn starch or styptic powder to the area and hold pressure until the bleeding stops.

Now it is time to give your dog a bath. If your dog is nervous or apprehensive in the tub, you may need a special leash designed for use in the bath. These often feature suction cups to keep the dog restrained and your hands free to wash him. Remove your dog's collar before placing him in the tub and use a waterproof collar that won't damage your dog's coat or skin if you need a way to restrain him. Make sure your dog is completely dry before you put his collar back on to prevent sores around his neck. Wait about 12 hours.

It is best to wash your dog with running water, rather than filling the tub and washing him in dirty water, but many dogs are frightened by the sound of water. Work with your dog gently, without force, to get him accustomed to baths and remember to be patient because it may take time. Get your dog completely wet. An attachment hose for your shower head or bath faucet or even a pressurized spray nozzle on your outdoor hose will work well for most dogs. Again, remember to be patient with your dog if he is apprehensive.

You have already cleaned your dog's ears, eyes, and mouth, so you can start washing around his neck and then work your way down over the rest of his body. Use a shampoo appropriate for your dog and dilute it with a small amount of water. Diluting your dog shampoo will make it rinse easier without leaving soap residue behind. Work in small sections, applying a bit of the shampoo to your hand and working it into the dog's fur. If your dog has a thick coat, you can use a curry brush like the one available by Kong Zoom Groom to work the shampoo through. If you are bathing a dog with long hair, smooth the shampoo through the coat rather than brushing it in to avoid knots and unruly tangles. When you have finished washing your dog's body, carefully shampoo his head.

Rinse your dog completely before removing him from the water. Hot spots, or bald patches of skin that are itchy and uncomfortable, are caused by shampoo left in your dog's coat. Rinse him with clean, running water until the water runs clear of both soap and dirt.

Once your dog is rinsed well, you can get him out of the tub and dry him. Use a thick, soft towel to absorb most of the water and allow your dog to shake himself as well. Make sure you dry his feet very well to prevent fungus or bacteria from growing in his paws. If your dog has a short, easy to manage coat, you are finished grooming him.

Dogs with long hair, thick coats, and curly hair require a little more maintenance. If your dog has a lot of hair, you can use a blow dryer to speed up the drying process. Take care not to dry the hair completely with the appliance because you may cause damage to his skin. A brush, along with the blow dryer, can help keep long-haired dogs free of mats and tangles. Dogs with curly hair, like poodles, must be dried completely to keep their coats looking good.

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Copyright 2007. Ken Mathie. Editor PMCezine...
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