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Grooming Your Dog for a Healthy and Happy Pet

Beautiful Midnight
Beautiful Midnight
Photo by John Eastman

My mother always said that “cleanliness is next to godliness”. As “parents” of four-legged children with fur, grooming should be an everyday process that begins when they are puppies and follows throughout their lifetime, thus becoming a bonding experience that will familiarize your dog to your touch. Some tips on grooming are below.

Brushing and Bathing

With our busy schedules we often don’t take the time to brush our dogs as often as we should. This results in a severe matting problem in some breeds. Often, people make the mistake of bathing their dogs without brushing first which increases the problem.

The brushing process carries with it many enhancing qualities to complement the health and well-being of your pet. Become familiar with the feel and look of your dog’s skin, and you will quickly spot any parasites that may have latched onto him.

Skittish dogs may be coached into brushing by alternating the brush with petting or by using a brushing mitt. Brush in the direction of the dog’s coat, using a soft bristle brush for short-haired dogs, a wire brush for medium or longer hair. For long hair or when matting or tangling is present, a fine comb known as a slick or rake can help with de-tangling process. Gently comb through the matt by grasping onto it at the base of the hair line so that you do not pull on the dog’s skin. Snip out the excessive matting rather than put your pet through the agony of removing a stubborn knot.

If brushing is followed by bathing, use a mild soap made just for pets, one that will not sting their eyes or irritate their skin. Do not use people shampoo on your dog due to the ph balance which is too strong for their skin.

Always rinse thoroughly from head to toe before removing the dog from the bath. Not rinsing the dog properly will leave soap residue that will cause skin irritation.

Do not leave them unattended or even untouched unless you desire an instant shower yourself. Dry your dog with soft towels and keep him in a contained area until he is dry. A blow dryer may be used on a cool or warm setting. Never use a hot dryer next to your dog’s skin for risk of burning him. Be sure your dog is completely dry before brushing him. A pin brush may also be used against the growth of the hair to fluff the fur.

A doggy home pedicure

Along with daily brushing of their coat to keep it matt-free and shiny, remember to trim their nails every three to four weeks. Ignoring this simple hygiene rule can cause discomfort for your pet in the way of an ingrown nail, difficulty in walking and even sore feet.

When trimming your dog’s nails at home, always use a pet toenail clipper.

Be aware of the fine blood vessel inside the nail. This is often called “the quick” and all trimming should be below this line. If you happen to hit “the quick”, the toenail will bleed instantly. Don’t panic. Keep a supply of styptic powder on hand for just such an emergency. This will stop the bleeding immediately.

Ears need special care at home

The summer months of heat and humidity are often the culprit for increased infections, and it is especially important to check your dog’s ears on a regular basis. Many owners forget to do this. Oti-calm is a non-alcoholic cleanser that is a good addition to your medicine cabinet. This gentle cleaner may be swished into your dog’s ear and carefully swabbed dry. It will remove any odor or wax build-up from the ear.

A word of caution here: if you notice your pooch scratching his ears or a smelly odor emitting from them, you should contact your vet immediately as this could be a sign of infection.

Your Dog’s Teeth

Dental hygiene in animals is just as important as part of their care. Special toothpaste and brushes are available for dogs of all sizes. If you begin daily brushing of your dog’s teeth when he/she is a puppy, they will often allow the process to continue. Some dogs, however, will always struggle with the procedure. Whether you decide to brush their teeth yourself or take them in to the vet for regular cleanings, the practice should be part of their normal care. Dogs can contract illness through poor dental hygiene just as humans can. Healthy teeth and gums can extend the life of your pet. Don’t ignore this valuable care.

Get help from a reputable groomer

As many people do not have time to groom at home, the next best thing is to visit a reputable dog groomer every four to six weeks. A full service groomer offers trimming, brushing, washing, nail clipping, ear cleaning and sometimes anal glands.

Royal Pet Grooming in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, is one such groomer with over 45 years experience.

Judy Mentzos of Robbinsdale Royal Pet says her clientele includes her regulars as well as those that only bring their dogs once a year. "There are many stories to tell" says Judy but remembers well the story of a Poodle-terrier mix whose owner passed away. His wife didn’t have any idea how to care for the dog. When she finally brought the dog in for grooming, Judy was aghast to discover a rubber-band embedded in the little dog’s neck. After the band was surgically removed and the stitches healed, the woman was so appreciative of Judy’s help that she brought the dog back for a complete grooming. Judy’s greatest reward is watching a scraggly grimy dog become a beautiful happy pet.