Looking and feeling good is perhaps one of the most basic needs that any dog could have. However, this is not as simple as giving the dog’s coat a bath. It will cover everything from the eyes to the teeth and even down to the nails and the tail. There is also the fact that the dog’s hygiene can also affect their health in several ways.
Although there is the option to hire professional services, a lot of dog owners would rather take matters into their own hands. DIY Dog Grooming, is not exactly that complicated. What is true to how we keep ourselves clean still applies for dogs with some changes here and there.
Why Is It Important?
Regular grooming might sound like something you would rather not be hassled with regularly but a proper dog care routine can actually help you in more ways than one. First, it helps keep your dog healthy by removing dirt which can be breeding ground for a lot of diseases.
Parasites like ticks and mites actually grow where a dog is at their dirtiest. Regularly cleaning the dog not only removes these parasites from the skin but also their eggs and breeding areas. Second, poor hygiene can also affect the dog in several ways.
For instance, long nails prevent their paws from touching the ground and are painful to walk with, while a strong body odor can throw off their scent. Coats clumped with dirt and mud can also weigh the dog down which restricts their ability to move freely and quickly.
Lastly, there is the social and psychological aspect. A dog with poor hygiene tends to be unattractive as dogs also know if one of their own is a carrier of disease and pests. Also, the mentioned difficulties these dogs face make them frustrated which can affect the way they interact with other dogs and even humans.
These are but a few reasons why a regular grooming routine should be implemented. Not only will this keep the dog comfortable but it can also make sure that the dog remains as healthy and attractive for as long as possible.
There is actually more to dog grooming than meets the eye. As such, it would be better to go through each area in detail.
The coat of the dog needs to be washed at least once a month depending on its length and volume. This will help in removing any dirt accumulating in the hairs while also flushing out small insects like ticks and fleas. The first challenge you will have to deal with, however, is actually convincing your dog to take a bath.
Some dogs like Spaniels love the water so bathing them should not be a problem. However, some dogs, especially toy breeds, absolutely hate it and might get aggressive if they hear the b-word. Gradually introduce bathing to the dog at a young age and be gentle when cleaning them so they do not associate the experience with negative emotions.
Also, you need to be thorough in bathing. Make sure to wash each crack and corner of areas like the ears and paws as well as the pits of each leg and the belly. If the dog has multiple skin flaps like a bloodhound or a Chow Chow, you have to make sure that each flap is thoroughly cleaned to avoid infections.
Also make sure that you dry your dog good. If not, a wet dog not only smells “doggy”, but will attract dirt and debris and make the bath fruitless.
Lastly, it is advisable that you stick with recommended hair care and skin care products. These grooming solutions are designed to remove every bit of dirt in the dog’s body without causing an unwanted reaction. This also means that you will have to consult with either a veterinarian or expert dog groomer first before applying any product on the dog’s skin.
Brushing and Combing
How a dog’s coat should be brushed depends greatly on their coat’s length and volume. This basically means that every dog breed requires a certain approach to coat brushing and combing.
Long – The most time consuming and challenging coat out there, a long coat needs to be brushed from near the root of the hair to the tip. Make sure that you are as thorough as possible to remove clumps of dirt that might have remained even after bathing.
The goal here is to make the dog’s coat as clean and light as possible so it does not pose some problems for them as they move around. However, if you do manage to regularly clean long coats, other coat types should not pose much of a problem for you.
Short – Commonly found in breeds like Dachshunds, hounds, and bulldogs, this coat is the easiest to manage due to minimal volume and hair length. The coat can be brushed at least once a week but this might have to be increased if the dog in question has a tendency to get themselves dirtied regularly.
Curly – This type of coat is often found in breeds like poodles and bichon frises, these coats are perhaps the most beautiful to look at when groomed but are absolute messes if tangled and unruly. Daily grooming and brushing might be required especially if the dog loves to play with their mates. If not, then once every few days should be enough.
Wiry – Found in dogs like affenpinschers, terriers, and griffons, this coat is made up of hair that is medium-length and is hard or coarse to the touch. Most of these dogs also have pronounced “mustaches” on their faces which is part of the overall coat. Brushing should be done once a week to remove dirt from the coat.
This is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of grooming. First and foremost, you need to make sure that the dog keeps steady as you trim their nails. Hold them in a way that they won’t squirm move a lot. This is to be expected for dogs who have no experience to having their nails trimmed or have negative feelings for it.
There are two types of nails in dogs: black and white. The white nail is easier to trim as all you need to do is find the pink spot (the nail’s vein also called the quick) in the nail and cut above it. Black nails, on the other hand, are trickier as you don’t know where the vein is located. Cut just a short distance from the edge to avoid bleeding. If the nails do bleed, stock up on styptic powder or silver nitrate sticks to stop the flow.
After cutting the nail, you may want to smoothen the edges with a nail file. This way, the dog will not accidentally scratch other dogs and humans as they move around.
When cleaning the area around and inside the dog’s ears, make sure that you are as gentle as possible. Wet a cotton ball and start with cleaning the outer areas for any dirt. Replace each used cotton ball with a new one as often as possible so that dirt does not get transmitted.
Slowly work your way to the canal and stop pushing as soon as you feel a resistance on the cotton ball. This will prevent damage on the dog’s eardrums. After cleaning, wipe the ear and then move on to the next one.
However, refrain from doing any sort of cleaning of the ears if they show symptoms like odor, discharge, redness, and hair loss. If you notice these, you need to take the dog to your veterinarian as soon as possible as they might be suffering from an ear infection.
The risk of contracting an ear infection often increases when the dog has a love for water. Before taking out your dog for a swim or giving them a bath, have their ears cleaned. Once they step out of the water, you can then dry their ears with a towel.
Ear infections can also be treated with an ear drying solution which can immediately dry the ears. A drop would be enough to immediately evaporate any water trapped in the creases and folds of each ear.
First and foremost, do not lather the dog’s teeth with human toothpaste to clean it. It contains a compound called Xylitol which is harmless to humans but fatal to dogs. Use a toothpaste meant for dogs as these contain compounds not toxic to dogs. Also, these pastes come in flavors that the dog enjoy, like beef and mint. This will make brushing easier for you and fun for the dog.
Gently apply the paste on the dog’s teeth with a brush designed for dogs and slowly brush the area in a circular motion. You need to do this once every few days and check regularly tarter flaking off from the mouth.
Keeping your dog healthy and happy can be possible if you know the basic concept of grooming. If done right, and with professional grooming tools, your dog will not only look attractive but might just keep up with the rest of its peers. So if you think DIY dog grooming is something you want to try, do your research and watch plenty of videos.
In addition, if you get really good at it and want to start your own mobile grooming business, check out my friends over at dog grooming van conversions. Who knows? This could be a whole new career change for you!