Each dog breed is different, and there are many hair types, show clips and grooming procedures for them. The basics of dog grooming, however, apply to every dog, whether it’s a Labrador Retriever, an Airedale Terrier, a Poodle or a Portuguese Water Dog. When grooming your dog, they should be relaxed and this should be an enjoyable experience for them.
Basic grooming supplies include a brush, comb, shampoo, conditioner (for longer coats), detangler, ear cleaner, toothpaste, toothbrush, dog toenail clippers, styptic pencil or powder, cotton balls and CANIDAE® Snap-Bits™ dog treats. All supplies should be for use on pets, not humans. The ph of our hair is different and you could dry out your dog’s coat and remove essential oils by using shampoo made for people. There are many good dog shampoos on the market and some of them are even “tearless.” I use the Snap-Bits after I groom Skye as an enticement for the next time, and they always work.
Brushing your dog removes dead hair and stimulates the glands that produce the natural oils which lubricate their skin and coat. I am constantly combing burrs and thistles out during the months when they are plentiful. I usually brush Skye’s coat outside as soon as the weather is warm enough to do so. Though she is a short-coated dog, like many dogs that shed, she can really blow coat in the spring and fall. I brush head to tail and use a rubber palm pad. The rubber creates a static charge with the hair and the hair sticks to the brush and massages Skye’s skin at the same time.
Bathing is important for all dogs regardless of age. Your dog’s activity level, what they get into, and how much they groom themselves will give you an idea how many baths they need in a year. There is no hard and fast rule, though some say you should bathe your dog at least once a month. If you have a dog that loves to roll in smelly things, or dig in the mud, you may have to bathe them more often. It’s good to bathe your dog yourself if you can, as it gives you a chance to examine them for injuries or any other abnormalities that a groomer may not be looking for. I found a cyst on my first dog’s back that way, before it came through his skin and became a major health issue.
Cleaning their ears is important because it lets you check for infection, ticks or ear mites that may be there. You can also look for anything that may have gotten lodged in your dog’s ears from their outside excursions. I clean out any heavy debris with cotton balls, and then use ear cleaner. Most ear cleaners are very easy to use; the one I use is self-drying and just gets squirted into the ear and then Skye shakes her head to remove it. You have to take more care with a dog whose ears droop, as it is easier for them to get an infection.
Cleaning their teeth is important because you can keep plaque from forming. You can also check your dog’s teeth for cracks, breaks or cavities that may be forming. It is important to use a toothpaste made specifically for dogs. Some human toothpastes have chemicals and artificial sweeteners in them that are toxic to dogs. Many veterinarians anesthetize a dog to clean their teeth. Depending on your dog’s age, this could be dangerous. There are human dental hygienists that clean dog’s teeth and use natural products and no anesthesia, but they can be difficult to find, so cleaning your dog’s teeth yourself is a win-win situation.
Keeping your dog’s toenails clipped prevents them from scratching and hurting themselves or you and your loved ones. It also keeps them from getting their toenails caught in fabrics or damaging the floors and furniture in your home. There are many types of clippers on the market, I know a breeder who uses a Dremel tool to trim her dogs’ toes because she likes the job it does. Having styptic powder is important if your dog has darker or black nails, as mistakes can happen and the styptic powder will stop the bleeding.
I love grooming Skye, as it gives us more special time together and my attention is wholly focused on her, which she loves. It doesn’t take much of my time and we get to bond further and get even closer. It has a calming effect on me and her occasional antics are hilarious, even if half of the bath water ends up on me.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently
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