Grooming Your Pup: The Basics
We decided to compile a list of basic grooming requirements for dogs. Some of these items may be more or less relevant for your pup depending on your dog’s breed and daily activities.
Nails Trimmed: Dogs’ nails are just like peoples’ nails – they don’t stop growing. As they grow, it’s imperative that you get your pups nails trimmed. If you fail to do this, they can curl around and grow back into the pad, creating a painful and uncomfortable experience for your pet.
Most grooming shops and vets will trim your dog’s nails for a small fee ($5 – $20). If you elect to do this yourself, you must be careful not to cut into the quick of your dog’s nail. This is the portion of the nail that is alive, complete with blood and nerve endings. If you cut into the quick, your dog will likely wince, yelp, or exhibit some sign of pain followed by a stream of blood. Needless to say, this is a job left to pet care professionals if you aren’t completely confident in your abilities.
Anal Glands Expressed: Your dog may or may not require this as this is something the canine body should do on its own when your dog defecates. From my personal experience, I’d guess that 30% of dogs have anal glands that do not express on their own. If you’re a pet owner that’s unlucky enough to have a dog with this problem, your dog will usually frequently scoot his/her butt on the ground, turn around trying to lick that area, and generally seem to be in a state of discomfort.
Ears Cleaned: All dogs should have their ears cleaned with a cotton swab and ear cleaner. The frequency with which this is required varies greatly by breed. The breeds with droopy ears (cocker spaniels, labs, bloodhounds, etc.) are most prone to ear infections and should have their ears cleaned at least once a week. Dogs with ears that provide plenty of air flow to the ear canal (german shepherds, dobermans, etc.) will require far less upkeep. As you guessed, your groomer and vet will happily give you guidance on this practice.
Teeth Brushed: Dog teeth are just like human teeth – they experience tooth decay. Regular brushing helps extend the life of your dog’s teeth. Although your groomer will likely be willing to brush your dog’s teeth (and provide you with a doggy tooth brush), this is most effective when it’s done on a daily (or at least weekly) basis.
Hair Cut: This is obviously unnecessary for many short-haired breeds. However, the increasing popularity of “doodles” (golden doodles, labradoodles, aussie doodles, etc.) has led to in increased demand for the expertise of groomers. For many breeds, it’s absolutely critical that they get regular haircuts to keep them comfortable and to prevent their hair from becoming a mess of tangles and mats. Your local groomer will happily provide you with these services.
Bath: We won’t spend much time on this one as its most intuitive. However, keep in mind that you should usually avoid giving your dog a bath more than once every two weeks. Frequent baths can dry out your pup’s skin. Also, give some consideration to the type of shampoo you’re using. Talk to your groomer and/or veterinarian if you see your pup itching excessively as this may be an indication you should switch to a soothing shampoo that is friendly to your pup’s skin.
In the final analysis, the following rule of thumb will help ensure you have a well-groomed pet; consult your local pet services professionals. Your veterinarian and groomer will guide you along the way to ensure you are properly grooming and caring for your pet to ensure you can enjoy a clean, healthy, happy pup.