When you picked up your new dog, whether a cute puppy or a dignified old rescue dog their grooming requirements were probably not at the forefront of your mind. But grooming is an essential part of pet ownership.
Of course, clipping and bathing can be delegated to your local dog groomer – but there are still things that need to be done between visits to the parlour. Grooming is important for skin and coat health, dental health, and to prevent injuries from overgrown claws.
Daily Grooming Guide for Dogs
Many dogs need their coats brushed daily. This helps to spread the skin oils along the length of the coat, making it nice and shiny. It also helps to remove dead hairs that are about to fall out, reducing the amount of hoovering you’ll find yourself doing! You should check what type of coat your dog has, and groom them with the correct kit- we’ve covered coat types in a seperate article.
Brushing your dog’s teeth is the best way to prevent expensive, painful and potentially dangerous dental disease. Choose a dog toothpaste in a flavour your dog will enjoy, and find a toothbrush that suits both of you- a soft-bristled brush is best, although many canine toothpastes will come with a suitable toothbrush or finger brush. Teach your dog to enjoy the process with lots of praise and rewards. Once you’re both used to it, try to build it into your daily routine.
Check ears, skin, and feet
They may not need anything doing, but it’s a good idea to get in the habit of checking your dog over for problems. You should look in their ears for signs of muck and wax, and have a look at their coat and skin for signs of dander, or ticks. Check your dog’s nails and make sure that the fur on their feet is free from burrs and grass seeds, which can cause damage if left.
How often should I bath my dog?
Like for humans, bathing strips the natural protective oils from the fur coat and skin, and can upset the pH and balance of yeasts and bacteria on your dog’s skin. If your dog has no medical problems, bathing them as little as possible is generally the aim- when they’ve had a roll in something particularly bad, or once a month. If your dog has medical problems, such as allergies or mites, the shampooing regime may be more often- even up to three times a week- and with special soothing or medicated shampoos.
How to tell If my Dog’s Nails need Cutting?
Some dogs need their nails cutting more frequently than others. It’s important to keep a close eye on your dog’s nails to decide whether they need cutting or not. Nails that grow too long are prone to getting caught and tearing, usually resulting in a vet visit. They can also, in severe cases, grow right over and into the pad of the foot. Check your dog’s nails at least weekly, and don’t forget that most dogs have five nails on each of their front legs, and may have four or five on their rear legs, depending whether they have rear dew claws. The dew claws are the most important nails to check- they don’t get worn down by contact with the ground and are easy to miss when they’re growing long.
If you can see through your dog’s nails to the quick, you can see when they need cutting. 5-10 millimetres beyond the end of the quick is fine, depending on your dog’s size- any longer and they may need cutting. Your groomer or veterinary nurse can do this for you. If you can’t see through your dog’s nails, it can be a lot more difficult to see whether they need doing. The nails should be fairly straight and not curled over- highly curled nails is a common sign they need cutting. The nail grows in a triangle profile if looked at straight-on. Where the quick is, there is a ‘base’ to the triangle on the underside of the nail. But if the nail grows longer than this, the ‘base’ stops growing and only the top and sides continue to grow. If you look at the underside of your dog’s nail, there shouldn’t be more than 5-10 millimetres beyond the end of the base, where only the sides and top grow. If you’re not sure, pop your dog to the local groomer or nurse, who can take a look and decide whether the nail is too long, and show you what to look for.