Cleaning the facial wrinkles of dogs
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Cleaning the facial wrinkles of dogs

Many different dog breeds have facial wrinkles, such as the Chinese Shar-pei, and most brachycephalic dogs such as the Pug, the Bulldog and the Boxer dog. Exactly how pronounced the facial wrinkles are will vary from case to case, but unless your dog only has very slight wrinkling of the face, the chances are that their facial wrinkles will trap dirt, food, dead skin and other debris, which can cause a variety of problems.

It is important to know how to clean the facial wrinkles of dogs that have wrinkled or loose skin, in order to keep them healthy and well. Read on to learn more about cleaning the facial wrinkles of dogs.

Why clean the facial wrinkles?

Wrinkles around the face can trap all manner of things, including food, dead skin, moisture, mucous and dirt. Allowed to build up, this can lead to your dog’s face smelling offensive, but it can also lead to a range of other problems too. Dirt and debris trapped within the facial wrinkles can chafe and cause sores, and it can also play host to a wide range of different bacteria and fungus, ultimately leading to conditions such as fungal or yeast infections, and other skin conditions that can be both irritating and painful.

When and how often to clean

How often you should clean the wrinkles or skin folds of your dog will vary from dog to dog, and how dirty they get. Many dog owners find that they need to clean their dog’s skin folds on a daily basis, and if you are unsure, this is the best path of action to follow until you can learn to identify the best routine for your own dog.

In terms of when to clean your dog’s face, try to pick a time when they are calm and relaxed, such as an hour or so after they have eaten, or after a walk once they have had time to calm down. It is generally best to wait until after a walk to do your cleaning rather than before, as this will allow the dog to work off excess energy before you start, and so that they will not immediately get dirty on a walk as soon as you have cleaned them up!

How to clean facial skin folds

It is important that cleaning the skin folds becomes a normal behaviour for your dog, and one that they are tolerant of and will sit through quite happily. This means ensuring that your dog finds cleaning to be a positive experience, and not one that is stressful or difficult. Make cleaning time a fun time for your dog by talking to them and petting them as you go along, and reward them with a treat after you are done. Try to establish a set time to give them a clean up and get into a routine, so that your dog knows what to expect and that a reward will follow their wash!

Make sure that you can reach your dog properly, and that you are in a comfortable position to clean them up. This may mean putting your dog on a table or stand, so that you can work comfortably, and reach and see their face properly.

Have all of your supplies to hand before you get started, and have a means of securing your dog while you work if they will not sit still.

You may only need to clean the skin folds with water, but if you do need to use a soap solution, use a very mild one and ensure that it is thoroughly rinsed from the skin when you are done. You will also need some clean washcloths that you keep just for this purpose, and possibly some cotton buds, and Vaseline.

Use your thumb and forefinger to part each skin fold, and wipe within the wrinkle from one side to the other with a damp, but not soaking wet, cloth. Do not scrub or rub within the skin fold, and wipe in one direction only. If you find that dirt gets trapped in the corner of a skin fold, use a damp cotton bud to clean this areas, being careful not to poke or scrape at the skin.

Drying the skin fold is just as important as washing it, as moisture left in the wrinkle can lead to infections and potential skin irritations, so use a separate cloth that is totally dry to dry out the wrinkle when it is clean. You may need more than one drying cloth, depending on how wrinkly your dog is!

Once you are sure that the skin fold is scrupulously dry, you may wish to apply a very thin layer of Vaseline to the inside of the wrinkle, to repel water and to keep the skin comfortable and lubricated. You should also use the time you spend cleaning your dog’s skin folds to carefully check for any problems, such as sores, hot spots, scrapes or infections, all of which will require a little extra care and attention to deal with.

After you have finished cleaning your dog’s face, give them some treats and reward them for being good. Try to make time to play with your dog after cleaning, even if only for a few minutes, so that they build up positive associations with their grooming time!

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