It is very important to groom your dog and get him used to being touched and handled all over in a pleasant way. As well as removing dirt and tangles from his fur, grooming helps you to bond with your dog and establish a good relationship with him. It is also very important as a way of monitoring your dog’s health; close contact during grooming will allow you to find new lumps/tumours, skin complaints and parasites such as fleas and ticks.
- Grooming should be part of your dog’s daily routine, even in smooth coated dogs, which may only require a quick rub over with a hound glove to make the coat shine. Run your hands over your dog’s body as you groom to check for any abnormalities.
- Take the time to check his ears for wax as this may indicate he has ear mites. Your vet can give you medication for this if necessary. Use a damp piece of cotton wool to wipe around the ear, but do not insert anything into the ear as this may cause damage and hurt your dog.
- Check his eyes are clear and free from discharge. Give each eye a wipe with a new piece of damp cotton wool if necessary. If his eyes are sticky or look sore, you may need to visit the vet.
- Check his feet for grass seeds and remove them. Sometimes they can stick into the skin and cause all sorts of problems so have a good check after walks, especially if he has been biting or licking at his feet.
- Most dogs’ nails will wear down naturally, especially if they do enough walking on hard surfaces. If not, you may need to clip them occasionally. Be careful not to nick the blood vessel, (which you can see as a pink area if your dog has light coloured nails), as this can bleed a lot. If you’re not sure how much nail to cut, ask your vet or groomer to show you how to do it safely.
- If your dog ‘scoots’ or drags his bottom along the floor, this may mean that he needs to have his anal glands emptied (it is rarely due to worms). They can become very uncomfortable and painful. Again, if you do not know how to do this then ask your vet or groomer to show you. However, this can be a messy, smelly job so you may want to leave it to the professionals!
- Unless your dog is one of those that seeks out smelly things to roll in on a regular basis there is really no need to bathe them too often. Too much bathing and detergent use can strip the natural oils from a dog’s coat and may lead to dry skin and itching.
- When you do need to bathe your dog, use lukewarm water and a shampoo made especially for dogs. You could use a very mild baby shampoo as an alternative, but any other type may be too harsh. Avoid the ear and eye areas and make sure that you rinse out the shampoo well. Dogs Trust has a range of specially designed grooming products including shampoos, conditioners, balms and spritzes, and a third of the proceeds go directly to helping us care for thousands of dogs every year. Visit www.dogstrustproducts.com to find out more.
- Dry your dog carefully right down to his undercoat, especially in the winter when he may be at risk of getting a chill. Some dogs will tolerate a hairdryer set to warm (not hot) air but if not, keep him inside until completely dry.
All dogs need grooming, but some need more than others!
- Silky and long types will need combing and brushing with a soft wire ‘slicker’ brush every day.
- Non-shedding curly types will need daily grooming and professional clipping every few months.
- Smooth types will need little grooming, but appreciate a quick going over every day with a soft brush or chamois to remove any dirt and make the coat shine.
- Wiry types usually require occasional professional grooming or stripping, but also need a regular brush to keep them clean and tidy.