01 Dec 5 Basic Grooming Tips Every Dog Owners Should Know
You’ve finally adopted a rescued dog and is trying to learn the ropes of how to be the best paw parent they could ever ask for. But just one problem: you’re not quite sure of the first thing when it comes to grooming.
Well, we’re here to help! This guide will cover all the basics – from the when, why and how – as well as addressing the common problems faced by those who are new to the dog grooming world.
Basic Grooming For Dogs
Regardless of the grooming techniques you wish to employ, there is one thing and one thing only that matters: creating a comfortable and enjoyable grooming experience for your pup. You don’t need to force your dog to love it, but it’s crucial that they don’t hate it either.
So start slowly and do one thing at a time. You may also wish to break down the entire grooming process over the next few days. If your pup is showing signs of agitation or discomfort, you can entice them with a treat once you’re done. This will give them the incentive to patiently stay in place and tolerate the process.
That said, let’s review the grooming checklist.
If we’re talking about the basics of dog grooming, we can’t leave out nail trimming. If not trimmed regularly, long nails can be the reason behind a dog’s arthritis and walking ailments. If the nail gets long enough, it’ll even curl into the dog’s foot and wedge itself in their flesh. Imagine how painful each step must be!
There are two types of equipment you can use: dog nail clippers and nail grinders. Depending on your dog’s nail condition, you may need to get one over the other.
Before you proceed with the trimming, there is one thing you’d need to take note of: dogs possess a vein in their nails that is otherwise called a quick. This quick will bleed and hurt should you cut it too short. If you hardly trim your dog’s nails, this quick will grow very long and you will need to trim your dog’s nail a little bit at a time to encourage it to shrink back. In such cases, a nail grinder will be great.
If you wish to use a pair of dog clippers, position your dog’s paw up such that you can look at the underside. If the dog’s nails are white, it’ll be easy to see the quick. If they’re black, then you’d need to trim a little bit at a time until you see a white area at the centre.
To stop the bleeding, you can use either styptic powder or cornstarch, if you’re in a pinch. On average, you’ll want to trim your dog’s nails once a month.
No matter long or short the fur is, your dog is in need of occasional brushing. Apart from having a kept appearance, brushing helps to prevent the matting of the fur and spread your dog’s natural oils so that your dog’s coat can have a healthy shine.
That said, do take note that there is no one-brush-fits-all. Depending on your dog’s coat, you’ll need a specific brush. For instance, dogs such as Boston Terriers have very short hair, and thus will need a rubber curry brush. Dogs with medium hair such as Golden Retrievers would need a slicker brush, whereas dogs with curly hair such as poodles will need a metal comb.
Periodontal diseases and other dental ailments are, unfortunately, common amongst the canine species. In fact, 80% of dogs suffer from a dental condition by the time they’re 3 years old!
Periodontal diseases are no laughing matter – it can easily lead to teeth loss, broken jaw, cardiovascular disease and even death. The bacteria that festers in the gums and teeth can enter your dog’s bloodstream through a small wound, and kill them.
As such, try to brush your dog’s teeth every single day – just as much as you do. If you’re new to this, you can start by letting them sniff the toothbrush and lick the toothpaste (bear in mind, always get toothpaste that is meant for dogs. A human’s toothpaste is poisonous!). Next rub toothpaste on your dog’s teeth with your finger, before you move to a finger toothbrush and finally, a dog toothbrush.
If your dog is still averse to getting their teeth cleaned, you can always use tooth wipes and dental sprays.
With Singapore’s weather being so hot and humid, bathing your dog once every week is almost unthinkable. To attain healthy coats, opt for hypoallergenic shampoos and conditioners specially made for dogs. Never use human shampoos and conditioners on your dogs as its different pH levels are deemed too harsh for a dog’s skin and fur.
That said, bathing needs a little bit of preparation! Remember to brush and trim your dog’s fur before you bathe them, lest the tangled and matted fur gets worse when wet. Stuff your dog’s ear canals with cotton balls to prevent any water from getting in, or else it’ll lead to an ear infection. Since dogs dislike being on slippery ground, you may want to let them stand on a bath mat or a towel.
Always start washing your dog from the back and work your way towards their head. Be careful not to get shampoo in their eyes, but if that happens, always rinse out the shampoo and drop a bit of saline solution into their eyes.
Finally, rinse and rinse again. Shampoo that’s left in your dog’s coat can lead to dander flakes and even skin irritation and infections. Better be safe than sorry, rinse your dog’s fur for an additional couple of minutes!
You can dry your dog simply with a towel or a hairdryer – provided that it’s on the cool setting.
5. Eyes, Ears and Paws
Most dogs, particularly flat-faced breeds, are prone to eye problems. You’ll want to make sure that their eyes have minimal redness and are clear with no cloudiness. You’ll want to do this once a week. If your dog’s eye discharge isn’t clear, you’ll want to bring them to the vet for a checkup.
Sometimes, you’d realise that there are little hairs that grow in the corner of your dog’s eyes. This is normal! However, you’ll need to trim those hairs regularly so that it doesn’t irritate their eyes. Opt for electric trimmers or round-tipped shears.
Dogs, especially those with long and floppy ears, are prone to ear infections. You can either use an ear cleaner specially designed for dogs or drop a few drops of witch hazel on a cotton swab and wipe their ear canals clean. You’ll want to do this once a month.
When clipping your dog’s nails, you may come across hairs that grow in between their pads. Whilst seemingly harmless, these hairs can collect dust, debris and pesticides whenever they go on a walk. Moreover, there’s also the possibility of it becoming matted and cause uncomfortable lumps. Simply use a pair of scissors to cut the hair, but be careful not to nick your dog!
These are just the basic fundamentals when it comes to dog grooming. It may be uncomfortable and overwhelming at the start, but practice makes perfect! Always start slowly and you’ll soon get the hang of it. When in doubt, you can always visit a professional groomer. They have the technical know-how and expertise to do what they do best.
The time, effort and money spent on grooming is ultimately an investment as it sets the very foundation for not just a neat appearance, but also good health and longevity. With these tips, you can make the first step to help your dog enjoy the grooming process!