- Going over the dog thoroughly with a brush or comb that reaches the skin. A dog with a short coat may require the gentle touch of a rubber comb, while a dog with a thick undercoat will need a slicker brush. It is important that the brush or comb reach the skin to bring loose hair and dirt to the surface.
- Repeating the brushing with a finishing tool. This may be a natural-bristle brush, a cloth or your hand. The goal is to remove the loose hair and dirt that the first brush brought to the surface and to distribute the natural oils in the skin.
- Checking the dog's ears. If you notice dirt or buildup in the ears, dampen a cotton ball with an ear cleaning product recommended by your veterinarian, then wipe the ears gently. Don't stick your finger or a cotton swab into the ear canal. If you are concerned about debris farther back in the ear, ask your veterinarian to clean the dog's ears. Healthy ears should be pale in color, cool to the touch and free of odor.
- Keeping teeth clean. Daily brushing is ideal, but even a twice-weekly schedule will help maintain oral health. Brush the teeth with a regular toothbrush, one specifically designed for dogs. Use one of the many toothpastes available for dogs. Many come in flavors dogs love, such as chicken or beef, so it is unlikely that your pup will spit the toothpaste out. Remember not to use toothpaste for people because, if swallowed, it can lead to stomach upset in dogs.
- Trimming the nails regularly. Ask your veterinarian or groomer to instruct you on how to trim nails before trying it at home. Spend plenty of time getting your dog accustomed to having his feet and legs handled, and the trimming will go much easier. Guillotine-style nail clippers are simple to use. Hold the foot gently and position the clipper so that you will cut the nail just below the point where the curve of the nail begins. With a simple snip, you are ready to move to the next nail. If you cut the nail too short, it is possible to reach the quick, a small vein that carries blood to the nail. Have a styptic stick handy to stop the bleeding if you hit the quick.
Dogs can have so many hair types, so it's no surprise that there are so many types of dog brushes available. Choose a brush or comb that best suits your dog's hair. Your dog may benefit from more that one type of bruh or comb.
- Bristle Brushes work well for most hair types. Bristle types vary from soft to firm and from long to short.
- Wire Pin Brushes are best for dogs with medium to long hair.
- Slicker Brushes are used to break up tangles and mats in medium to long-haired dogs.
- Rakes and Matbreakers work best on more severe tangles and mats.
- Shedding Tools have special teeth that remove excess hair from double-coated breeds and reduce shedding.
- Nail Trims can be stressful for dogs and owners alike. Knowledge of proper techniques and use of the right tools can help ease the process.
- Claw-style Trimmers are spring-loaded and cut the nail in a scissor-like fashion.
- Guillotine Trimmers have a replaceable blade that cuts the nail when the spring-loaded handle is depressed.
- Scissor-like Trimmers do not have springs and work best on dogs with small, delicate nails.
- Styptic Powder, such as Kwik-stop, can be used to stop bleeding if you accidentally cut a nail too short.
- Filing Tools grind down the nails gradually and result in a smooth edge-nail. Basic emery boards can be used on small, delicate nails. Power rotary tools work on all nail types.
I hope these tips and tricks of the trade will help you and your pet start a great home grooming maintenance schedule and relationship! Until next time...