Grooming is essential for maintaining a dog’s overall health and well-being. Bathing and brushing remove dead skin cells, debris and loose fur from your dog’s coat, which can cause irritation. This in turn prevents matting and tangling, allowing your dog to regulate their temperature effectively. A thorough brushing redistributes the natural oils through the coat to keep it healthy and shiny. Regular grooming sessions also give you a chance to check your dog’s physical health by inspecting their body, paws, ears, eyes and mouth. This gives you the opportunity to notice bumps, lumps, wounds, build-ups of wax/plaque, overgrown nails or parasites and get them treated before they have a chance to become more of a problem. By taking care of your dog’s grooming needs, you can help prevent health problems and ensure that they are happy and comfortable.

 

How often should I groom my dog?

  1. Brushing - Different types of brushes are suitable for different coat types, so make sure to select the appropriate brush for your dog. Dogs with long hair may require daily brushing, while short-haired breeds can be brushed once a week.
  2. Bathing - Bathing your dog regularly helps to keep them clean and smelling fresh. However, bathing too frequently can strip the skin of natural oils, leading to dry skin and other skin irritations. For most dogs, bathing once every three months is sufficient. Use a dog-specific shampoo and warm water to lather and rinse thoroughly.
  3. Nail Trimming - Long nails can be very uncomfortable for your dog. Regularly checking your dog’s nails (including the dewclaws) and trimming if needed can help prevent nail-related problems. If your dog regularly walks on rough surfaces, like pavement, they may wear their nails down naturally. A good way to test if they are too long is to try to slide a bankcard between their nail and the floor when they are standing, if you can’t, they could do with a little trim. Use a nail clipper designed for dogs, and take care not to cut the quick – the blood vessel that runs into the nail. After a bath is a good time to trim nails as they will have softened in the water. If you are unsure how to trim your dog’s nails, ask your vet or a professional groomer for guidance.
  4. Clipping and stripping – When it comes to clipping and stripping, it is best left to your groomer. They will be able to advise you on type, frequency and style of groom to keep your dog comfortable and looking their best, as this is heavily dependent on your dog’s coat and body shape.
  5. Ear Cleaning - Cleaning your dog’s ears helps to prevent infections and discomfort but cleaning too frequently can make ears sore. Only clean your dog’s ears if there is a visible build-up of wax. Use a dog-specific ear cleaner to gently clean the inside of your dog’s ears. Take care not to push anything too deep into the ear canal, as this can cause damage. If you notice any smell, inflammation or discharge in the ear, talk to your vet.
  6. Teeth Cleaning - Just like humans, dogs also need regular dental care. Plaque and tartar build-up can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. Use a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth and introduce it slowly. Once your dog is comfortable having its teeth brushed, try to brush them a few times a week. If you’re dog isn’t happy having its teeth brushed then chews and dental toys can also help to keep your dog’s teeth clean by manually scraping the plaque off the tooth surface.

How do I brush my dog?

  1. Choose the Right Brush - Different types of brushes are suitable for different coat types, so it is important to choose the right brush for your dog. For example, a slicker brush is ideal for dogs with medium to long or curly hair, while grooming mitts are better suited for shorthaired breeds. Make sure to select the appropriate brush for your dog’s coat type to avoid causing discomfort.
  2. Brush in Sections - To ensure that you don’t miss any spots, it’s a good idea to brush your dog in sections. If your dog is long-haired it is a good idea to start with the areas where knots are most likely to occur, as seen on the picture below. Otherwise, start at the head and work your way down the body, brushing in the direction of the hair growth. Don’t forget to brush the legs, tail, and underbelly.
  3. Be Mindful of Sensitive Areas - Some dogs have sensitive areas that may be uncomfortable to brush. Be mindful of these areas and use a gentle touch. Common sensitive areas include the face, ears, underarms, legs and groin area.
  4. Pay Attention to Knots and Tangles - If your dog has knots or tangles in their coat, it’s important to address them as soon as possible. Use a comb or your fingers to, gently, work out any knots or tangles, being careful not to pull on the hair. If the knot is too stubborn, use a pair of scissors to, carefully, cut it out.

 

How do I get my dog used to being groomed?

  1. Start Slowly - If your dog is not used to grooming, it’s important to start slowly and be gentle. Begin with short grooming sessions and gradually increase the length of time as your dog becomes more comfortable. Use a soft brush or comb to start, and gradually introduce stiffer brushes. Go at their pace and if your dog starts getting restless or appears uncomfortable, maybe yawning, lip licking or showing whale eye, take a break from grooming to let them decompress or have a play.
  2. Positive Reinforcement - Positive reinforcement can be a powerful tool in helping your dog get comfortable with grooming. Offer your dog their favourite treats and plenty of praise during and after grooming sessions, items like Lickimats are a great distraction for food-motivated dogs. This will help them associate grooming with positive experiences.
  3. Desensitisation - If your dog is particularly sensitive to grooming, it may be helpful to desensitize them to the tools and equipment used in grooming. Start by simply letting your dog sniff and investigate the grooming tools without using them, perhaps scatter some treats around them. Then, gradually introduce the tools into grooming sessions, starting with short and gentle touches.
  4. Think About the Environment – To set yourself up for success, it is best to groom your dog in a familiar area, where they feel comfortable, away from noises and distractions. Choose a time when your dog is quite relaxed so you are starting from a base level. Grooming on a carpeted or other non-slip, surface can help make your dog more comfortable too and prevent the risk of slips.
  5. Professional Help - If your dog is extremely anxious or fearful of grooming, it may be helpful to seek the help of a professional groomer, dog trainer or even your vet. They can offer tips and techniques for helping your dog get comfortable with grooming, as well as provide specialized grooming services for anxious dogs

So there you have it! Grooming is super important for keeping our furry pals healthy and happy. Regular grooming sessions help to keep their coat looking shiny and prevents skin problems, as well as flagging health issues before they become more serious. Remember to start slowly, be gentle, and offer plenty of positive reinforcement to get your dog comfortable with grooming. That way it can be a bonding experience too!