Grooming your dog is a health matter just as much as it is an appearance matter. The following items are typical grooming activities that all dog owners should routinely tend to in order to keep their dogs healthy:
It is not difficult to tell when a dog’s ears need cleaning. Simply check your dog's ears once a week to see if they look dirty. Doing this takes no more than a few seconds and it can prevent infections. An ordinary cotton swab can be used without any danger of injuring your dog.
After dipping a cotton swab in lukewarm soapy water, gently clean any dirt or body fluid grim accumulation from the dog's ear channel. Then use another swab or an old piece of terrycloth, dipped in baby oil or soapy lukewarm water, to clean the external ear flap. If the ears appear red or if the dog is in obvious pain, your dog's veterinarian can supply ointments or drops that will correct or fend off any infections that can be caused by dirty ears.
Unless your dog runs and walks constantly on a hard, rough surface, it is almost certain its nails will grow too long. This will spoils the dog’s movement and causes it discomfort and pain.
Your dog's nails must be trimmed regularly to avoid splaying its toes. All dogs hate having their nails trimmed, so try to be encouraging and reassuring, and apply no more restraint than is necessary. If you haven't had experience in clipping a dog’s nails, ask a veterinarian or groomer show you how it's done.
A dog’s toenails has veins and a nerve, so be careful. If the nails are light in color, you will be able to see the vein and know where the nerve is. You can come to within a tiny fraction of an inch of both and cause no pain to your dog. The best type of nail trimmer is the guillotine type, which holds the tip of the nail in a slop while you squeeze the implement. A sharp, replaceable blade slips up and cuts the tip away. Be careful not to take large pieces of the nail off at once; instead, take the tip off first and then, turning the clipper at an angle, gently trim the nail back as far as you can go.
Dry food is better for your dog’s hygiene and teeth care. But it is better yet to give your dog a treat of a tough, dry biscuit, the kind that come in the shape of a bone are fine. Brush and rinse your dog’s teeth at least twice a week. We recommend that teeth cleaning and plaque removal be done at least yearly by your dog's veterinarian.
If your dog has unhealthy skin, which is generally evidenced by itching, scratching, hot spots or by a scraggly looking coat, it’s necessary to first to get rid of external parasites. Ticks and fleas can be eliminated and controlled through the use of a varity of prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as by chemical dips, sprays, and powders. Your veterinarian can prescribe the right solution for your dog.
Spray and dust cracks in floor areas where your dog sleeps, and fabrics your pet may rest on. During tick season, check your dog at least once a week and remove all ticks. During winter months, many dogs have dry skin because their owners’ homes are overheated and dry. Add a teaspoonful of salad oil or olive oil to the dog’s food.
Basic coat care can consist of simple maintenance or fine-tuned grooming. If your dog requires trimming, plucking or cutting, you are going to need help, at least initially. If you decide to do it yourself, get some beginning instruction and be sure to buy the proper equipment.
When bathing your dog, start by putting a nonskid mat in the tub. Use a good dog shampoo on its body and a human baby shampoo on the head. Always put eye drops into your dog’s eyes before a bath to avoid eye irritation. The water should be lukewarm. Soak and lather all the way around your dog’s neck to prevent fleas from heading toward its head. Isolate the pests down on the body and give them their due. Use a mobile shower spray head or a plastic pitcher to soak the dog’s coat. Work the lather through the dog's coat again and again, and then rinse thoroughly. Don’t leave soap on the skin or you will invite itchy spots and constant scratching. Towel dry your dog and keep it in a warm place. If you have a heavy-coated dog, use a hair dryer while you brush the coat into shape.
A good many breeds have heavy undercoats. To loosen and remove undercoat fur, use a rake, a toothed band of steel with leather handles at both ends. Form the band into the loop and go to work, out-of-doors. If you don't rake the undercoat loose in the spring, you will be driven mad all summer and fall, because your dog will shed that coat instead.
Some dogs do not really need baths. If there is not some grand emergency, dry shampoos are best. These are powders, available in pet shops, that are brushed through the coat, leaving it clean and neat. Read the instructions carefully and take the manufacturer’s advice. Bathing off-standing coats more often than is really required will break the coat down and leave it limp and unimpressive. If your dog has been swimming in salt water, rinse it thoroughly with fresh water to prevent dermatological complications. Elaborated coated dogs need daily brushing.
Skunks are quick to spray dogs with their musk. If this should happen, try to rid your dog's odor outdoors. Put your dog in a metal or plastic tub and open four or five large cans of tomato juice. Work the undiluted tomato juice again and again through the areas of the dog’s coat that have been hit. After you have washed your dog's coat with tomato juice, rinse it in tepid water. Shampoo the dog at least three times, preferably with a heavy-duty bar of yellow laundry soap. Then rinse thoroughly, and then towel dry your dog with old towels.