Grooming Your Dog

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Grooming Your Dog

Post by Admin on Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:11 pm

Grooming your dog is a vitally important activity for various reasons; to most, the most obvious reason being to keep their fur tidy. However, proper grooming fulfils a lot more than that. It can also help to prevent certain skin conditions from occurring, such as thrush. It enables you to health check your dog, scanning him/her for cuts, abrasions, lumps, parasites and other abnormalities that you otherwise would not notice. As well as this, it can strengthen that bond of trust and friendship between you and your dog. Particularly for dogs that shed a lot, grooming loosens the dead hair, preventing mats of fur from accumulating, as well as helping to keep them cooler in the hot summer.

Please take the time to research your dog's grooming needs. It's very easy to research the type of grooming necessary for a particular breed. For a cross breed, you will need to look at the type of coat before you decide.


Common equipment for grooming:


Curry brush – This brush is usually made from a flexible plastic or rubber material, with short, blunt teeth on one or both sides. They are intended to loosen dead hair and dirt from the coat, stimulating the growth of new hairs and helping the skin’s production of natural oils. The preferred method for use of this brush is to rub the brush firmly in circular motions along the dog’s body, which also helps to loosen and relax the muscles. They are ideal for dogs with short to medium length fur. Care should be taken not to mistake these with metal curry combs.

Metal curry comb – This brush is used to remove dead hair from curry brushes and should not be used to groom a dog in the manner of a curry brush, as the metal teeth may scratch and damage the skin.

Stripping comb - Used on dogs such as Border Terriers, removing longer hairs to ensure that the hair growth cycle is kept even, allowing new growth and preventing a build-up of dead hairs. This should be painless when done properly.

Rake – Useful for double coated dogs or dogs with dense or slightly longer fur. Some dogs shed more than others, so this tool is useful for removing the dead hairs which may become trapped close to the skin. It has closely-spaced metal teeth to gather hair. Useful for grooming prior to a bath, as it loosens up the dead hair and allows the water to penetrate the fur properly. Care should be taken when using this grooming tool, as the metal may scratch or damage your dog’s skin. For short-coated dogs, very light strokes should be used – it may be useful to try it on the inside of your arm first to judge the pressure you should use. If the dog appears to be in any discomfort, stop immediately.

Bristled brush – Can be used for daily grooming to loosen dust and dead hair from the dog. For short-haired dogs, a bristle brush with short, densely packed bristles are preferable.

Shedding blade - Simple device with small teeth, designed to get rid of dead/shed hair from the more coarse coats.

Dog shampoo – Used to clean the dog’s fur and skin during baths. Directions for use can be found on the bottle. Owners should take care to only buy shampoos specifically designed for dogs, as human shampoos are often too harsh. If possible, avoid scented shampoos or shampoos containing alcohol.

Dog conditioner – Used to lock in moisture to the dog’s coat and skin, preventing irritation from occurring due to the natural oils being stripped from the body.

Nail trimmers – These can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including guillotine clippers and scissors, but the general usage is the same: they are designed to snip off any excess of the claw. Care should be taken not to cut into the blood vessel feeding the claw (the quick). For dogs with pale claws, it is usually visible as a light pink line down the centre of the claw. For dogs with dark claws, taking off a little bit at a time is preferable, as this allows you to judge whether or not you are coming close to the quick – as you near the quick, the nail will be softer and you may be able to see a dot in the centre.

Styptic powder – Used to coagulate blood from any minor cuts (clipping nails, for instance) and disinfect the wound. In the absence of styptic powder, flour may be used.

Toothbrush and toothpaste – Dogs need their teeth to be kept clean, as well. Take care to only buy toothpaste specially designed for dogs, as human toothpaste contains ingredients which are toxic to dogs if swallowed. Also be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid scratching the gums.

This is just a small selection of commonly used grooming equipment. The coat of each individual dog differs from the next, though, so you should take into account your dog’s fur length, density and shedding rate.

When grooming your dog, it is easiest to start right at the front (the nose) and work your way down to the last point (the tail). This ensures that you don’t miss anything. Some dogs are relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming, so they may only need a quick brush over once every other day. However, even with these low maintenance breeds, a thorough grooming should be carried out every two to four weeks. When looking at body parts such as the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, genitals and anus, be sure to check for any foul smells, discharge, irritation, broken skin or any other abnormal signs.

To clean your dog’s ears of dirt and debris, the preferred methods are to either buy an ear cleaning solution from your local vet or use olive oil and a cotton pad to wipe away dirt from the flap of the ear. Never use cotton buds or insert small objects into the ear, as they can damage the fragile lining of the ear canal and may perforate the ear drum. They can also push dirt further into the ear.

Please remember that, if you decide to bathe your dog using shampoo or soap, it shouldn't be done too often, as this can strip important natural oils from your dog's coat and skin. Also remember that dogs with matted coats should be groomed thoroughly before bathing, as mats in the coat may worsen and can be very difficult to rinse, resulting a soap residue being left behind. It also doesn't allow you to clean your dog properly.

Some people groom their dogs cosmetically - i.e., painting claws and dying fur. I do not condone this, as it is entirely unnecessary and does not benefit the dog in any way.

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