Frequently brushing your dog removes dirt and helps distribute skin oils, creating a shiny coat. Proper grooming also allows you to see the condition of your dog's skin and to notice the early stages of flea or tick infestations and skin irritation.
If your pet has a long or thick coat, a daily grooming session is ideal. A dog with less hair can often be groomed weekly. However, the more frequently you groom, the quicker and easier it is for both you and your pet.
Proper dog grooming includes more than simply passing a brush over the pet's coat, however. Regular care of the ears, teeth and nails can help prevent serious health issues later.
A good grooming session includes:
Going over the dog thoroughly with a brush or comb that reaches the skin. A dog with a short coat may require the gentle touch of a rubber comb, while a dog with a thick undercoat will need a slicker brush. It is important that the brush or comb reach the skin to bring loose hair and dirt to the surface.
Repeating the brushing with a finishing tool. This may be a natural-bristle brush, a cloth or your hand. The goal is to remove the loose hair and dirt that the first brush brought to the surface and to distribute the natural oils in the skin.
Checking the dog's ears. If you notice dirt or buildup in the ears, dampen a cotton ball with an ear cleaning product recommended by your veterinarian, then wipe the ears gently. Don't stick your finger or a cotton swab into the ear canal. If you are concerned about debris farther back in the ear, ask your veterinarian to clean the dog's ears. Healthy ears should be pale in color, cool to the touch and free of odor.
Keeping teeth clean. Daily brushing is ideal, but even a twice-weekly schedule will help maintain oral health. Brush the teeth with a regular toothbrush, one specifically designed for dogs. Use one of the many toothpastes available for dogs. Many come in flavors dogs love, such as chicken or beef, so it is unlikely that your pup will spit the toothpaste out. Remember not to use toothpaste for people because, if swallowed, it can lead to stomach upset in dogs.
Trimming the nails regularly. Ask your veterinarian or groomer to instruct you on how to trim nails before trying it at home. Spend plenty of time getting your dog accustomed to having his feet and legs handled, and the trimming will go much easier. Guillotine-style nail clippers are simple to use. Hold the foot gently and position the clipper so that you will cut the nail just below the point where the curve of the nail begins. With a simple snip, you are ready to move to the next nail. If you cut the nail too short, it is possible to reach the quick, a small vein that carries blood to the nail. Have a styptic stick handy to stop the bleeding if you hit the quick.