Grooming your dog

There are many different dog breeds and each breed will vary in regards to hair coat and which method is best for the care of that breed’s coat. Shorthaired dogs should be brushed and longhaired dogs need to be carefully combed and then brushed to bring out additional luster to their coat.

Brushing all the way down to the skin will stimulate the circulation of the blood to promote skin cell growth and will help loosen and remove flakes of dander. Daily brushing is the best, but in these hectic times brushing several times during the week will help keep the average dog neat and clean. For dogs that shed, it is important to groom frequently to help remove the dead hair and to help reduce the amount of dog hair left in the house if your dog is an indoor pet.

Mats in your dog’s hair can be difficult to remove. Take a comb and try teasing the mat apart using one or two teeth of the comb. If this doesn’t work and you have to cut the mat out, take the comb and work it all the way through the mat as far away from your dog’s skin as you can.

Dogs should be bathed as seldom as possible, since frequent washing removes their natural oils and causes the coat to dry out and to become harsh. When it is necessary to wash your dog, it is best to use a mild shampoo. Following are steps to take when bathing your dog:

· Stand your dog in a tub or basin

· Put cotton in its ears

· Put a few drops of mineral oil in his or her eyes

· Wet your dog with water and apply shampoo.

Work up a good lather. If you are using a flea/tick shampoo, check the directions for the length of time to leave on your dog. Rinse you dog well when finished and try to get a towel around your dog before he/she starts to shake or you’ll get a bath too. Our little dog, Annie (a Shih Tzu) loves for us to use a blow dryer while brushing to dry her. Our other two dogs, Nikki (a German Shepard mixed) and Diogi (a Black Lab mixed) both prefer towel drying.

If you are starting with a young puppy, take your time in teaching them to stand while you bathe them. There are shampoos made specifically for bathing your puppy. These shampoos are very mild and will say they are puppy shampoos. Make sure you keep your puppy safe and secure. They will learn to trust you and will enjoy getting a bath, instead of running to hide somewhere.

Your dog’s nails are also an important part of grooming. Nails should be cut once every two months depending on the amount of exercise your dog gets and the type of surface it walks on. Do NOT use ordinary scissors to cut your dog’s nails. There are specially designed dog nail trimmers that can be purchased at pet stores. Cut your dog’s nails just outside the pink blood line. If your dog has dark colored nails and you can’t see the blood line, the cut should be made by noting the curvature of the underside of the nail. Remove only the hook-like part of the nail.

Eyes also need regular care particularly dog breeds with the large protruding eyes like Annie (my Shih Tzu). The large protruding eyes are at a higher risk of injuries and accidental scratches or bruises. Breeds like the Shih Tzu, have longer face hair that can irritate their eyes. It is important to keep the hair out of their eyes. Small barrettes can help keep the hair out of their eyes. There are products on the market that can help relieve mild eye irritations. Constant irritation may produce a chronic infection and you should seek professional advise from your veterinary.

Last, but not least, are your dog’s ears. The ears are very delicate. Your dog’s ear trouble usually starts from irritation of the lining inside of the ear. This is why when bathing your dog you need to put cotton in its ears to keep the soap and water out. Ear mites, foreign objects and excessive earwax are other irritates. Dogs with hair-filled ear canals need to have the hair removed very gently (remove only a few hairs at a time). There are products at pet stores that you can get for the control of ear mites. If your dog has pain or chronic ear infections get professional advice.