Category Archives: dog grooming

Three Common Grooming Mistakes Dog Owners Make

grooming mapleBy Langley Cornwell

We live on the coast of South Carolina. If you are familiar with this area, you may have become acquainted with pluff mud (aka plough mud), a slippery, oozy, brownish, grayish, viscous sucking mud. This slimy mud, which is abundant around our tidal flats and salt marshes, has an accompanying aroma that is like nothing I’ve ever smelled before. I’m not sure I can accurately describe the smell in words but I can tell you this, it’s nearly impossible to wash out of dog fur. The mud itself takes a firm hand and lots of elbow grease to remove, but that smell has a lingering quality that you almost have to get used to. I often say our dogs smell like a combination of popcorn and pluff mud.

Our dogs get into pluff mud a lot. One of our favorite places to let them run is deep in a small island not far from our house. Of course the island is rife with the stuff and our dogs love to romp through it. Not to digress too far off topic, but you have to be careful around pluff mud because you can sink into it and get stuck. So can dogs. Just saying.

Every time we take the pups for off-leash playtime, we know we’re going to have a long, intense grooming session afterwards. Fortunately, they are used to the routine and understand that “if you want to play, you’ve got to pay” so they stand by patiently as we soap them up and wash them down.

If you are a new dog owner or your dog has recently discovered the joys of pluff mud (or skunk chasing or stink rolling, etc.), here are three grooming mistakes to avoid.

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Why It’s Important to Groom Your Pet

By Linda Cole

Grooming and playing are two great ways to bond with your pet. Grooming also gives you an opportunity to monitor your pet’s overall health and gain their trust. Sitting down regularly with your pet will leave them feeling good about themselves (even though they may complain the whole time) and it gives you time with your favorite furry friend.

Hair clipping will be included in your pet grooming routine if you have a long haired dog. Some dogs, like Siberian Huskies, have lots of hair between their paw pads. When the hair grows too long, ice and snow can collect on the hair and cut the dog’s pads. Tiny rocks can be held in between their pads by the long hair and can injure their feet. It can be harder for them to walk on slippery surfaces because they can’t get proper traction walking on the overgrown hair. Long haired dogs may also need to have the hair in and around their ears trimmed.

Combing or brushing is an essential part of pet grooming. It helps remove loose hair as well as dirt and debris along the skin and in their coat. Medium to long haired dogs and long haired cats can have tangled, matted hair that pulls on the pet’s skin and mats can be difficult to remove. Regular brushing can help keep their coats mat free. Brushing stimulates their skin, removes dirt along the skin and in their coat and gets rid of loose hair that won’t end up on the living room furniture or on an unsuspecting house guest. This is a good time, while your pet is relaxed, to run your hands over their body and check for any lumps, skin irritations or sores hidden under the coat. Use an appropriate comb or brush that won’t scratch their skin.

Trimming your pet’s toenails gives you a chance to inspect their feet to make sure there are no hidden cuts or foreign objects, like small rocks or burrs, caught in between the paw pads. Outside cats can come home with small injuries to their feet you may not notice right away. Both cats and dogs can get splinters in their pads or cuts that can become infected over time. Pet grooming should always include an inspection of their feet whether the toenails need trimmed or not, to catch any problems before they require a trip to the vet. If you aren’t comfortable with trimming your pet’s toenails, most vets are happy to do it for you. When trimming nails at home, be careful not to cut into the quick. Trim as far as you’re comfortable with and then finish up with a nail file to smooth the rough edges. For more detailed information on trimming the nails, see How to Give your Pooch a Pedicure.

Bathing isn’t a part of pet grooming that’s necessary every time, especially for cats. Cats seldom need us to give them a bath, but on those rare occasions when one is needed, try to make it as positive as you can. (Read How to Bathe a Cat and Live to Tell About It for step-by-step directions). Outside cats require more baths because they roll around in all kinds of “stuff” and can get oily debris in their hair. Dogs, on the other hand, do need baths now and then. This is another opportunity to inspect their body as you work the shampoo into their coat.

Dental care is one area of pet grooming that’s often neglected by pet owners. It’s easy to forget about the inside of the mouth; however, it’s important to check their teeth and gums regularly for signs of gingivitis or other dental problems before they become serious.

Ear inspection is something my pets would rather I skipped, but it’s important to include their ears during each pet grooming session. Dogs with floppy ears or long hair have a problem with adequate air flow and air doesn’t circulate in the ear canal as well as it does in dogs with erect ears. Humidity can actually build up in their ears keeping them moist inside. If your floppy-eared dog loves to swim, make sure to dry the inside of the ears after he gets out of the water. They can have more buildup of dirt and crud as well, and are more at risk for ear infections than dogs with erect ears. Regular inspection of your pet’s ears can catch an ear mite infestation or yeast infection in the early stages.

Regular pet grooming allows us, as responsible pet owners, the opportunity of a hands-on inspection of our pets as well as helping to keep them clean. It’s time well spent, and is as healthy for us as it is for our pets.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

What is the Purpose of a Dog’s Dew Claw?


By Linda Cole

Dogs have a toenail located on the inside part of their front leg that’s called a dew claw. Most dog owners know where it’s located and remember to clip it at the same time the rest of the dog’s toenails are trimmed. If this nail is left untrimmed, it can cause pain and damage to the dog’s leg. Some dog breeds have dew claws on their back legs as well. What is the purpose of a dog’s dew claw, and why do some breeds have them on their back feet?

Because a dog’s dew claw is located up on his leg, when he walks through the grass in the morning before the dew has vanished, the claw skims along the top of the grass. And that’s how the dew claw got its name.

Not all dogs are born with dew claws, some only have the toenail on the front leg and other breeds have them on all four legs. Some breeds can have two dew claws on one or more legs. When a dog has a double claw on a leg, it’s called polydactyl. Some dog breeds are required to have back dew claws if they are being shown in the ring because it’s part of the standard for that breed.

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How to Give Your Pooch a Pedicure


By Suzanne Alicie

One of the tasks that often gets overlooked by dog owners is the doggie pedicure. Unless you have a breed that gets groomed often you may not spare a thought to grooming your dog’s feet. But this is actually very important for their health and mobility. As a responsible pet owner you will want to meet all the needs of your pet.

Most dogs who are walked regularly or allowed to play outside wear their nails down to a natural length. But if your dog doesn’t take care of this naturally it is important that you take care of it so that your dog doesn’t suffer from bent and broken claws, or claws that actually grow sideways. This is a common problem on the front paws where your dog’s weight rests. If the two front-most claws get too long when your dog walks, they will spread apart and bend instead of wearing down naturally.

Another problem many dogs experience is when the fur between the pads on their feet gets too long, they lose traction and can easily slip and fall down stairs and on hard floors. It is important that you realize as a dog owner that a doggie pedicure is not just to make the dogs feet pretty, it can help you avoid additional vet bills and save your dog from unnecessary pain.

To perform a doggie pedicure at home you will first need to make sure that you have all the supplies on hand. Over the years I have found what seems to be the ideal tools for doggie pedicures and keep them all in a drawer to use after baths. We have two large dogs that have thick hard claws and lots of hair around their pads. My pedicure supplies include:

• Dog nail clippers – heavy duty for large dogs
• Small scissors
• Styptic powder
• Antibacterial ointment
• Personal hair clipper – small such as for bikini line or eyebrows.
• Heavy duty emery board/electronic dog nail file system

I usually sit on the floor where the dog can lie down in front of me. I start with the back paws because they usually require less work. The hardest part for me is the clipping of the nails. I am always scared I will cut the nails too short and damage the quick. Sadly at times I have, but styptic powder stops the bleeding. Nails should be cut straight and fast to avoid bending and tugging on the nail. Always make sure your clippers are sharp and won’t cause your dog pain.

Once all the nails are trimmed I move to the “toe hairs.” Using a small pair of sharp scissors I trim long hairs that are around the nails and the ankles of the dog’s feet, front and back. Then I use a personal hair trimmer to get in between toes and pads to remove the hairs that could cause them to slip and slide.

The next step is smoothing the nails so that they won’t split, crack, or cause nasty scratches on me or the dog. I like electronic filing systems but my dogs don’t like the noise, so it is usually faster to use a heavy duty emery board. No matter what you use, the idea is to smooth the rough edges and leave your dog with slightly rounded claws.

Once all the trimming, clipping and shaping is done, all that is left is applying an antibacterial ointment to any places where I have cut the nail too short or caused irritation of the paws with the hair clippers. A small dab of ointment to promote healing and kill germs, and voila! Doggie pedicure finished.

Not all dogs will lie still and allow you to manipulate their feet in this manner, and each dog may require a different approach. For example, with my two dogs I have one that requires another person to pet her belly while I work on her feet and the other one who tries to gnaw on my hand while I hold the foot I am working on. Neither of them is really scared or trying to bite me, they are just letting me know they are not happy with what I am doing. Now if I pull out the electronic file and turn it on both of them will bark at it and try to bite it. Every dog is different, and you may have to make some adjustments to account for the things that will frighten or upset your dog.

If you are afraid your dog will bite you, do not attempt to give him a pedicure yourself; take him to a professional groomer. Dogs can sense your fear and nervousness and will react in kind because they don’t realize that you may be afraid of them or of hurting them. All they know is that something is frightening you and therefore they will become nervous, skittish and possibly defensive as well.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Groom a Short-Coated Dog


By Ruthie Bently

Each dog’s hair coat is different and in my opinion, grooming a dog with a short coat (also known as a smooth coat) is the easiest. You don’t have to cut the dog’s hair coat and you don’t need to use a stripping knife to cut out the dead hair. You also don’t have to bathe a dog with a short coat very often. If they are a fairly clean dog, then bathing them once a month is often enough.

If you bathe a dog too much you can actually strip the oils out of their hair coat. This can be detrimental because the oils in a dog’s coat can help keep them insulated against the cold weather. My AmStaff Skye loves to run through mud puddles, and I’ve watched her jump up and down trying to see how much mud she can get on herself. I have a dry shampoo for spot cleaning her feet and parts of her that get wet or muddy after we have been down by the river.

The first step in grooming a short-coated dog is to give them a bath. Fill the bathtub with about six inches of lukewarm water and use it to get them wet all over. A medium-sized saucepan works well for both getting your dog wet and for rinsing off the shampoo. I purchased a shampoo that has colloidal oatmeal in it, though lately I have been making my own. The oatmeal soothes the skin and is good for any bites from flies or mosquitoes or scratches your dog might get from charging through bushes.

After wetting your dog completely, put about a nickel sized amount of shampoo in your hand. Beginning at their head (avoiding the eyes) soap them from front to back and top to bottom. Massaging your dog with a rubber brush or palm pad helps calm them, works the shampoo down to the skin and helps get any dirt out of their coat.

Be sure to rinse your dog very well to make sure all the soap suds are out of their coat. For every twenty minutes of bathing allow yourself five minutes of rinse time. Dry your dog with several old, clean towels set aside for that purpose, or use a blow dryer on a low heat setting. If it’s warm enough outside in the summer months, you can let your dog air dry.

If your dog’s nails need to be clipped, after their bath is a good time to do it. The warm water of the bath usually soothes a dog and makes it easier to clip their nails. If they object to having their toes clipped at this time, waiting until bedtime after they’ve had a full day of activity and are tired can also be helpful. Make sure you have styptic powder or a styptic pencil on hand if your dog tends to be a wiggler.

The next step is brushing out the hair that was loosened by the bath. There are many tools you can use to brush your short-coated dog, and you need to decide which is best for you. You can use a shedding blade, natural bristle brush, a round rubber curry brush or rectangular rubber brush, a sisal mitt with bristles, a rubber mitt or a rubber palm pad. I prefer the round rubber brush, palm pad or shedding blade as they are easier to clean. They also attract the hair to themselves and you don’t tend to end up with globs of hair around the house.

During the warmer months I brush Skye outside and give the hair to the wild birds to use for their nests. Begin at your dog’s head and brush them head to tail and top to bottom. If you can’t brush them outside, brushing them in the bathroom on the tile floor is a good idea since it is a small room and it’s easy to sweep up the hair. You shouldn’t need a conditioning spray unless your dog has a brittle coat, and with frequent brushing you will help your dog’s body replenish its natural lubricating hair oils.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Groom a Long Haired Dog


By Suzanne Alicie

You know how pretty your long haired dog is after going to the groomer, all smooth and fluffy with no snarls or mats? Wouldn’t you like for your favorite canine to look that put together all the time? It’s actually quite easy to groom your long haired dog yourself.

Brushing – A long haired dog needs to be brushed every day. The brushing not only clears out tangles to prevent matting, but also invigorates their skin and promotes healthy coats. Of course, with a long haired dog your main thought is always the snarls and tangles, and removing the things that get picked up or caught in the long fur when they are outside. Regular brushing makes it easier to handle the rest of the grooming steps for a long haired breed.

Bathing – When it comes to bathing a long haired dog, the biggest challenges come from keeping the long fur from tangling, and scrubbing down to the skin. The first time you bathe your long haired dog you may be surprised to see just how small he really is.

Here are a few bathing tips to keep from causing yourself more work:

• Always work from the top down when bathing a long haired breed. This means aiming the water in a downward motion and working dog shampoo through from top to bottom.
• Use your fingers to gently comb through the hair while you work the shampoo in. This helps release debris and other items collected by the long hair.
• Apply a conditioner or cream rinse. You can purchase a special dog conditioner or you can use a simple detangling and moisturizing conditioner such as Suave which will probably be more inexpensive.
• Dry a long haired breed by using a large absorbent towel and wrapping it around the dog to soak up excess water. Of course your dog is going to do the shake, which will lift the fur and begin to separate it.

Drying your long haired breed can be done by allowing them to air dry or by using a blow dryer. At my house the dogs really dislike the noise of a dryer so I spread a blanket for them to lay on near a heat vent or the clothes dryer. After a couple of hours they are dry and ready to proceed with the next step of grooming. This way I also have plenty of time to clean up after the bath and prepare my supplies for the next part.

Trimming – Long haired breeds may occasionally need the hair around their foot pads and claws trimmed. The hair can get long and cause the dog to lose traction and slide on a hard floor. A personal trimmer works wonders around dog pads, and while the noise may annoy the dog, you don’t have to worry about cutting the dog. This is also the time to trim your dog’s nails if they need it. Use a sharp clipper and avoid cutting too short. If possible use a file to smooth the nail as well as to make sure your dog doesn’t accidentally hurt himself while scratching.

Preventative Measures – The ideal time to clean your dogs ears, apply flea and tick medication and any skin treatments is after the dog is dry, but before you brush him. The flea and tick meds that are applied straight down the dog’s spine are more evenly dispersed when you brush after applying. Ear cleaning is a simple procedure and if done regularly will prevent ear mites, hair matting in the ears, and ear infections.

To clean a long haired dog’s ears use a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel to swab gently inside, without going deep into the ear canal. Be sure to clean all the nooks and crannies on the dog’s ear as these areas are where wax builds up and mites hide.

Fluffing – Once you have taken care of all the basic grooming steps now you get the fun of making your long haired dog look “show ready.” Brush the dog with a detangling brush first to make sure you won’t pull the hair when you move to the fluffing part of the job. Use a soft bristled brush to brush your dog from the bottom up. This will lift the roots and give your dog the full effect of long hair. Once you have brushed all the hair in the wrong direction start at the feet and brush to direct the hair back down while retaining the fluffiness. Continue brushing until your long haired dog is fluffy, tangle free and looks just as beautiful as when a professional groomer does the job.

Not only is grooming your long haired dog yourself fun, it can be much more convenient than loading up the dog and taking him to the groomer, as well as more cost effective.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.