Regular grooming helps keep your dog clean, healthy, and happy. Grooming also promotes bonding and acts as a stress-reducer for you and your dog. Moreover, regular grooming instills familiarity with your dog’s body, making it likely you’ll notice changes that may be warning signs of health concerns.
Introducing Your Dog to Grooming
Introducing grooming is not always easy; it requires patience, continuous reassurance, and rewards. Begin grooming when your dog is young so she becomes accustomed to the process. If your dog is excited, wait until she calms down before grooming. In the beginning, limit sessions to five minutes and then gradually increase the time as your dog becomes more cooperative. Petting your dog for a few minutes on sensitive areas such as her paws, tail, ears, and belly, can also help.
Brushing is the foundation of grooming. It helps prevent tangles and matting, removes dirt and debris, strips away dead hair and skin, and distributes natural oils over the coat. Brush your dog’s hair every few days; longhair breeds may require daily brushing. Choose canine brushes and combs that meet your dog’s specific grooming needs.
Bathe your dog once every three months. Bathing too often dries out a dog’s skin and coat. However, more baths may be necessary if your dog gets dirty or spends a considerable amount of time outdoors. Only use a shampoo made for dogs. If your dog has sensitive skin or an allergic skin condition, purchase a shampoo designed for these health issues.
Cut your dog’s nails about once every two weeks. Use sharp clippers and cut nails from top to bottom, rather than from side to side. If your dog’s claws are white, you can see the pinkish spot indicating the vein. Don’t cut into the vein. If the claws are black, make small cuts and look at the tip of the nail straight on; when you see a pale oval in its center, you’re near the vein, so stop cutting. Apply styptic powder to stop the bleeding if you cut the vein. While tending to the feet, trim the hairs over the feet and make the hairs on the bottom even with the foot pads.
Use a pet toothbrush or gauze with a dog toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth at least once every two or three days. Rub the teeth and around the gum line. Consider giving your dog dental chews that mechanically remove food particles and plaque as your dog chews to keep her teeth clean between brushings.