Grooming Your Dog

Grooming includes bathing your dog, brushing his coat, trimming his
nails, cleaning his ears and paw pads, and even brushing his teeth!
Grooming is often put off because the dog doesn’t care for it, but it
is an important part of keeping him healthy and happy. Long-haired
breeds like the Golden Retriever and double-coated breeds like the
Alaskan Malamute can develop matted hair and sores on their skin if
left unbrushed, and even short-haired dogs need to be brushed to keep
their skin healthy. Brushing also helps with shedding, of course, and
can nearly eliminate those tumbleweeds of dog hair that can
accumulate in corners.

Bathing shouldn’t occur more often than once per month, because it
can remove essential oils that keep your dog’s skin healthy. Often, a
good brushing is enough to remove dirt, but a bath can be necessary
when your dog finds something smelly to roll in. The best way to
bathe a dog is in your bathtub, in lukewarm water, with an approved
dog shampoo. Be careful not to get soapy water in his eyes, ears, or
mouth, and have a towel handy. Bathing is one way to get rid of
fleas, though a simpler way is to use Advantage (or a similar

Dogs should have their toenails clipped every two to three weeks. A
dog that wriggles during toenail clipping will sooner or later be
nipped to the quick, and will be firmly against the process the next
time you approach with the clippers. Teach the dog to stand or sit
and offer his paw, clip a tiny bit off each nail a couple of days in
a row, or have the vet or groomer do the job.

Here’s another grooming job that is usually avoided: brushing your
dogs teeth. Ideally, it should be done twice each week. When brushing
teeth, use baking soda or a special toothpaste formulated for dogs,
not toothpaste for humans, and there are special dog toothbrushes
available. Chewing on hard rubber toys can help massage the gums, and
dry food and treats can help remove tartar, but your dog needs dental
care just like you do. At the least, your dog should be trained to
stand quietly while you examine his teeth and gums. Your groomer will
thank you for it.

If you start expecting quiet acceptance of your examinations when
he’s a puppy, it will be easier to groom your dog when he’s older,
though any dog of any age can learn to sit still. Even if you leave
the above tasks to a professional, it’s a good idea to examine your
dog thoroughly, at least on a weekly basis. He will enjoy the
attention, and you are more likely to notice potential health
problems, like ear mites or matted hair.

Copyright 2001, Steph Bairey — All Rights Reserved

Steph Bairey is a web developer and pet owner, with 25 years of pet
care experience and 30-40 pets at any one time. Get immediate,
reliable answers to your pet care questions at Steph’s website,
Practical Pet Care, located at

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