Grooming your dog regularly is vital to ensure they stay clean, healthy, and comfortable. You can choose to send your pup to a professional groomer every few weeks but tackling the tasks at home yourself is entirely possible. Here are some tips to help you get started. Please note that every dog breed has different needs when it comes to the methodology and frequency of grooming so it's important to do some research on your dog first.
Wash your dog’s face
Use a soft damp cloth to wipe your dog’s face and the areas around his eyes. Dirt and crust (from tears) tend to build up around the eyes and this may lead to infection. While you’re cleaning the eyes, check for any signs of eye infection like reddening or swelling. Some breeds are prone to tear stains. These are dark brown or reddish stains under a dog’s eyes. You’ll need a tear stain remover solution, like the Eye Envy Tear Stain Remover Solution for Dogs, to wipe the stain off.
Once you are done with the eyes, move on to the ears. Dirt and wax will collect in your dog’s ears. Start by wiping the folds and flaps of your pup’s ears with a clean damp cloth, cotton balls, or gauze. Please do not use Q-Tips to clean your dog’s ears at home. They can damage their eardrums. After you’ve cleaned the outer ear, use a dog ear cleaner like this Kin+Kind Organic Clean Ears Dog Cleanser to dissolve ear wax and clean out his inner ear. The general guide is to clean your pup’s ears every four weeks. However, if your dog produces a lot of wax or frequently gets his ears wet, then clean the ears as often as every two weeks.
Cut your dog’s nails
Some dogs' nails will naturally reduce themselves when they walk on hard surfaces like concrete or pavement, others do require frequent trimming. Check your pup’s nails and if necessary, give them a trim every few weeks. Use a proper dog nail trimmer to do the job. The PETKIT LED Nail Scissor for Cats and Dogs is one of the best nail-trimming tools available. It features LED lighting to make the vessels visible, to avoid cutting into them without knowing, and a nail chamber to trap the nails to prevent the hassles of floor cleaning after each nail cut.
Take note that some dogs do not enjoy having their nails trimmed. It’s best to get your dog comfortable before attempting to trim his nails and pay attention to your dog’s body language throughout the session. Signs of discomfort are obvious, like repeatedly trying to move his paw away or even excessive yawning as you work. If at any point your dog is signaling that he has had enough, put the dog nail clippers away and finish up for the day. Do not force your dog to sit through the whole ordeal. Forcing your dog to do so will create a negative association with nail trimming, making it even more challenging for you to trim his nails the next time around.
If you are struggling to get your dog to comply with having his nails trimmed, and do not feel comfortable at all clipping your dog’s nails, then leave this task to the professional. Clipping too short can cause extreme pain and bleeding.
Trim your dog’s coat
To trim your dog’s coat, you’ll need more than a standard pair of scissors. You should be able to get a full set of grooming scissors online. Some of these tools may even come with an educational DVD – showing you how to use the tools correctly. At the very least, get a kit with the following tools:
- Straight grooming scissors for general cutting
- Curved scissors for rounding off layers of hair
- Thinning shears
- Rounded safety tip scissors for trimming delicate areas like the face and tail
A rule of thumb when cutting your dog's hair is to start from the neck and move down to the tail. For short-haired dogs, a pair of curved or straight scissors is all you need to trim the coat. For long-haired dogs, you may need to use the full set of tools. Always trim your pup’s coat in the direction their hair flows. Going against the normal flow of hair creates lines on their coat.
Be very careful about sensitive areas like the underbelly and underarm. If necessary, have someone hold your dog while you carefully trim them.
Do not forget to trim between the paw pads. With a pair of scissors, carefully remove the excess paw pad hair. Paw pad hair tends to harbour a lot of germs.
Brush your dog’s coat
Brush your pup before bathing. If there are any tangles, it is best to tackle them before bathing your dog. Wetting and shampooing your dog without first removing the tangles will just worsen the condition, making it a lot harder to untangle his hair after the bath.
Brush your dog’s hair a couple of times weekly to keep it neat. Brushing also helps to remove dirt and dead hair, keep the coat smooth and shiny, and prevent matting. A grooming mitt or glove brush is perfect for short-haired dogs. For dogs with medium to long hair, use a slicker brush like this Petz Route Soft Slicker Brush For Cats & Dogs to keep their hair smooth and lush. If your dog has curly hair that is more prone to tangling and matting, brushing their coat daily is often necessary.
Brush your dog’s teeth
Dogs can develop bad breath if their teeth are not cleaned regularly. Plaque and tartar buildup can lead to serious gum disease. It is highly recommended to brush your dog's teeth daily. If that is not possible, do try to brush a couple of times a week, or use the no-brushing teeth cleaning solution. Use only special toothbrushes and toothpaste designed for dogs. Do not use human toothbrushes or toothpaste on dogs. Human toothbrushes are too hard for dogs and may cause gum injury while our toothpaste contains ingredients that should not be swallowed. If swallowed, it may give your pup an upset stomach!
Bathe your dog
Your dog should have regular baths and the frequency depends on the dog’s lifestyle, breed and length of coat. Use a mild shampoo formulated for dogs to avoid drying out your dog’s skin and coat. Some dogs suffer from bath anxiety, and any bad past experiences like getting scalded by hot water, slipping and falling in the tub, or getting stinging shampoo in the eyes can all make your pup feel like baths aren't safe.
It is also very important for you to stay calm during the whole bathing process. Dogs get their emotional cue from us. If you treat the bath like a stressful experience, your dog will follow suit. Keep calm and be gentle with your pup. Use a calming shampoo like this Earthbath Soothing Stress Relief Eucalyptus & Peppermint Dog Shampoo. After shampooing, rub vigorously with a towel. Dogs love a good rubdown! and then blow-dry if necessary. Comb or brush as required.
Grooming need not be a stressful event for both you and your dogs. It can be used as bonding time with your dog, with treats as rewards. As you groom your dog, use the time as an opportunity to spot any diseases or health issues. Check his teeth and gums, run your hands through his coat, and if you spot anything that is of concern, do discuss it with your vet.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.