Grooming Your Dog
By Steph Bairey
Grooming includes bathing your dog, brushing his coat, trimming his nails, cleaning his ears and paw pads, and even brushing his teeth! Grooming is often put off because the dog doesn't care for it, but it is an important part of keeping him healthy and happy. Long-haired breeds like the Golden Retriever and double-coated breeds like the Alaskan Malamute can develop matted hair and sores on their skin if left unbrushed, and even short-haired dogs need to be brushed to keep their skin healthy. Brushing also helps with shedding, of course, and can nearly eliminate those tumbleweeds of dog hair that can accumulate in corners.
Bathing shouldn't occur more often than once per month, because it can remove essential oils that keep your dog's skin healthy. Often, a good brushing is enough to remove dirt, but a bath can be necessary when your dog finds something smelly to roll in. The best way to bathe a dog is in your bathtub, in lukewarm water, with an approved dog shampoo. Be careful not to get soapy water in his eyes, ears, or mouth, and have a towel handy. Bathing is one way to get rid of fleas, though a simpler way is to use Advantage (or a similar product).
Dogs should have their toenails clipped every two to three weeks. A dog that wriggles during toenail clipping will sooner or later be nipped to the quick, and will be firmly against the process the next time you approach with the clippers. Teach the dog to stand or sit and offer his paw, clip a tiny bit off each nail a couple of days in a row, or have the vet or groomer do the job.
Here's another grooming job that is usually avoided: brushing your dogs teeth. Ideally, it should be done twice each week. When brushing teeth, use baking soda or a special toothpaste formulated for dogs, not toothpaste for humans, and there are special dog toothbrushes available. Chewing on hard rubber toys can help massage the gums, and dry food and treats can help remove tartar, but your dog needs dental care just like you do. At the least, your dog should be trained to stand quietly while you examine his teeth and gums. Your groomer will thank you for it.
If you start expecting quiet acceptance of your examinations when he's a puppy, it will be easier to groom your dog when he's older, though any dog of any age can learn to sit still. Even if you leave the above tasks to a professional, it's a good idea to examine your dog thoroughly, at least on a weekly basis. He will enjoy the attention, and you are more likely to notice potential health problems, like ear mites or matted hair.
Copyright 2001, Steph Bairey -- All Rights Reserved
Steph Bairey is a web developer and pet owner, with 25 years of pet care experience and 30-40 pets at any one time. Get immediate, reliable answers to your pet care questions at Steph's website, Practical Pet Care, located at http://www.practical-pet-care.com .
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