Grooming is one of the basic needs of any pet. Keeping them clean and trimmed is as important as feeding them!
How often you groom your dog is entirely up to you, however there are times when you definitely should wash them and times when you definitely should not. There are also several other factors we should consider when grooming our dogs at home.
WHEN YOU DEFINITELY SHOULD WASH
As much as some dogs would love to go their entire lives without a bath - it’s necessary that we as pet owners are very attentive to their cleanliness. There are several health hazards that your dog can suffer from if left without a proper wash for too long.
You’ll know a bath is due when you notice:
Build-up inside ears
Ear mites and infections can occur if left dirty for too long. Dogs with especially large, floppy ears are at greater risk.
Coat feels greasy
This usually means there is dead fur and skin cells also building up which can eventually cause skin issues and/or yeast overgrowth
Odor is another indicator there is a build-up of dead fur/skin cells. You’ll want to give your dog a thorough brushing before bathing.
- It should be noted that sometimes odor is a sign of skin issues, and special shampoo should be used to prevent further irritation.
- If the odor is accompanied by constant licking/biting of skin or rashes, it could be a yeast overgrowth on the skin. Your vet can advise you best on this.
WHEN YOU DEFINITELY SHOULDN’T WASH - AND WHY
Much like our own scalps, dogs’ skin produces natural oils that are beneficial to them. These oils prevent their skin from becoming dry/irritated, and even protects against infections. For this reason, you never want to wash your dog more than once per week, as doing so strips them of these natural, helpful oils.
Some dogs become smelly again after just a few days, so it’s tempting to bathe them again. But the healthy solution is to use a deodorizing spray!
INDOOR DOGS’ NEEDS VS OUTDOOR
Dogs that spend most of their time indoors likely don’t need to be washed as often, however regular brushing and maintenance of their nail and fur length is still just as important.
If your dog spends much of his time outdoors, extra care should be taken when grooming since he will be at a greater risk for having fleas or ticks hidden somewhere on his body. During every wash, it’s important to check the areas on your dog’s body where these pests tend to hide, such as the base of the tail, armpits, and groin.
WHAT YOU USE TO WASH THEM ALSO DEPENDS ON THE DOG
Puppies’ skin can be a bit more sensitive than adult dogs to certain types of shampoo ingredients, so it’s important to use one that is specifically formulated for puppies.
If your dog’s skin is itchy and irritated due to allergies or some other problem, it’s possible to worsen their discomfort by using the wrong shampoo. You’ll want to use a formula designed to soothe sensitive skin.
WHAT ABOUT BRUSHING?
Brushing is best done daily for the following reasons:
- Establishes a routine the your dog can learn to look forward to, making grooming tasks easier and more enjoyable for both of you
- Gives you something to bond over
- Greatly reduces loose fur all over the house
The best brush to use on your dog depends on their fur type, but many find that a combination of brush types has the best results.
For Long hair
An undercoat rake will remove loose fur under the surface. Depending on the fur type, a slicker brush may also be sufficient for this. Then, a rubber-bristle brush or glove can be used last to remove any remaining loose fur/debris.
For Short hair
A slicker brush followed by rubber-bristle brush or glove may be most efficient - but one or the other alone may also work fine (again, depending on their fur type).
For puppies, there are brushes that are made to be gentler for little ones that are still getting used to being groomed. This could also be ideal for adult dogs who are afraid of brushes.
WHAT ABOUT TRIMMING FUR?
Certain breeds/fur types require occasional trimming. Some reasons it may be necessary to trim your dog’s fur include:
- Fur on face is blocking eyesight
- Build-up around rear-end
- Overcrowding paw pads
You’ll want to be sure to use rounded-tip dog scissors for trimming and appropriately-sized dog fur clippers for shaving.
WHEN TO TRIM NAILS
Keeping an eye on dogs’ nail-length is important, as it’s very possible and fairly common for overgrown nails to cause discomfort/pain or, in severe cases, infection. Regular walks on pavement may eliminate the need to trim nails at all, but some dogs may need their nails trimmed now and then regardless.
It may be time for a nail trim when you notice it hurts you when they jump on you, or you can hear their nails scraping the floor in your home. It’s definitely time to trim when one or more of the claws are starting to curl inward (it can eventually start to curl into paw pad and cause infection).
When trimming at home, be mindful not to cut the nail too far to avoid accidentally trimming the quick - or bloodline in the claw. Doing this will hurt the dog and cause the nail to bleed. Be sure to keep an anticoagulant (such as powdered turmeric) on hand when trimming nails so you can dab some onto the bleeding claw to make it stop.
TIPS FOR MAKING GROOMING EASIER
- Choose a quiet, well-lit spot in the house to groom
- Be calm and patient
- Use proper dog grooming tools
- Swaddling in a towel for nail-trimming should help anxious dogs
- Groom regularly
Grooming at home can be easier, save you money on professional grooming, and foster a strong trust and bond between you and your furry family member!