Dog grooming might not seem too important at first. After all, dogs are animals, right? It’s not they’re movie stars or something (well, unless they’re Lassie or Rin Tin Tin).
But think about it: How would people react if you never brushed your teeth and never cut or washed your hair? You might get away with this around some people (especially if you’re a musician), but most people would probably avoid you like the plague.
Like humans, puppies and grown dogs need regular grooming. If you don’t, you could leave them vulnerable to fleas and ticks and the diseases they carry. Here are a few pointers on dog grooming.
Tip 1: Brush Their Coat Regularly
One of the best and easiest pet grooming things to do is to brush your dog’s coat. By brushing them regularly, you can keep junk from getting tangled up in their hair. This leaves their coat healthy and looking shiny.
It’s an especially good idea to brush them more diligently during the shedding season. This can keep them from shedding too much as well as prevent hair from building up.
Some of you may be wondering right now how often you should brush your dog’s coat. Here are some good rules of thumb:
- If your dog has shorter hair, you can probably get by brushing their coat every few weeks. Be sure to use a brush with shorter bristles when you do.
- If your dog has medium hair, you should brush their hair more frequently. The reason for this is because their hair can get tangled up and matted easily. Brush your dog’s hair at least once a week.
- If your dog has especially long hair, you may need to brush them every single day. And because their coat will be particularly susceptible to matting, you’ll want to rub them all over just so you don’t miss any patches. Be gentle—you don’t want to yank on your pooch’s hair by accident.
Not only does brushing keep dogs clean, it makes a lot of them happy. Many breeds like having their coats brushed—it’s a little like giving them a full body massage.
Tip 2: Give (or Get) Them Haircuts
In addition to brushing your dog’s hair, you should have it cut regularly. Haircuts can help prevent tangles and matting. Not only that, it can help them and you avoid the nuisance that comes with excessive shedding.
How often dogs need a haircut will vary according to breed. For example, Shih Tzus will a haircut every 2-4 weeks because their coats grow so much. If you have a breed whose hair grows slower, you can probably get away with cutting their hair less frequently (you should still brush and clean it, though).
Although you could cut your dog’s hair yourself, professional dog groomers are probably the best option. They’ll know potential problem areas and won’t make many mistakes.
Tip 3: Brush Their Teeth
It may be a little tricky to do, but keeping your dog’s teeth clean is extremely important. As with humans, plaque and tartar can build up on your pet’s teeth, leading to a variety of health problems.
You should brush your dog’s teeth at least three times a week (if not every day). To help your dog get used to having a toothbrush in their mouth, start with one that has soft bristles while they’re a puppy. As they grow, you can transition to a toothbrush with stiffer bristles.
Tip 4: Give Them a Bath Regularly (But Not Too Often)
Giving your dog a bath can be a pain in the neck, but it’s necessary nonetheless. Like brushing their teeth, you can help them get used to baths by doing it consistently. It may never be completely easy with some breeds, but it’ll become less of a hassle over time.
At the same time, you should be careful not to bathe your pet too much. Overdoing it can make their skin rough and their hair brittle. For many dogs, one bath a month should be fine—that’ll keep them clean while leaving enough natural oils in their body.
One more thing: Use a soap-free shampoo. Your vet can help you find a good shampoo for your dog.
Tip 5: Keep Their Nails Trimmed
Nail trimming is another tricky but important dog grooming task. Most breeds will only need to have their nails clipped once a month. You could also try filing their nails down—there’s less chance of cutting them too short.
Tip 6: Clean Out Their Ears
Many people may not think about this one, but it’s important to clean your dog’s ears. If yeast and bacteria build up in there, it can become seriously unhealthy.
For some dogs, a monthly bath will give their ears all the cleaning they need. If your dog has longer hair or floppy ears, however, you may need to clean them more often. A vet may need to prescribe medications and special cleaners if your dog’s ears smell really bad or have too much gunk building up.