How to groom and bath your dog - the basics
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How to groom and bath your dog - the basics

Whether you keep a pedigree show dog or a Heinz 57 mutt, it’s important to pay attention to the care and condition of their coat and skin, and various other aspects of their general cleanliness and appearance. Good grooming and cleaning regimes for your dog can not only make things more pleasant for you, the owner, but also help to keep your dog in good health and top condition.Dogs don’t thoroughly groom and clean themselves in the same way that cats do, and so it’s your responsibility as a dog owner to meet them halfway and ensure that all of their needs are taken care of. This includes bathing and grooming as well as many other aspects such as feeding a balanced diet and making sure your dog gets enough exercise. Many owners choose to take their dog to a professional canine grooming salon on a regular basis, particularly owners of show quality dogs and dogs that are clipped or styled; however, even if your dog is professionally groomed regularly, it can be useful to know how to bathe and groom your dog yourself. Many pet owners save significant amounts of time and money by being able to bathe and groom their dogs at home instead of paying for someone else to do it.Here are some of our top tips on how to bathe and groom your dog, plus a few things to watch out for!

  • Keep a lookout for any inflamed areas of skin, lumps or bites while you groom your dog. Take the opportunity to give them a good checking over!
  • Don’t use a spot-on flea treatment prior to grooming or bathing- wait until the day after to avoid washing it off.
  • Keep a flea comb and tick twister to hand to remove any nasties you may find under the coat!
  • Check your dog’s ears for signs of mites or wax build up, and clean them gently but thoroughly. Never insert a cotton bud or any other object into your dog’s ears.
  • Check over your pet’s paws- look for any sores, abrasions, corns, damaged claws, or stones and pebbles caught in between the toes. Don’t forget to check the dew claws carefully too, as these can be prone to damage and injury.
  • Brushing your dog is a great way of keeping the coat in good condition, regardless of the breed of dog or the type of coat he has. Some dogs need brushing every day, while for some, once a week is fine. Brushing stimulates healthy hair growth and circulation, as well as helping to remove dead skin cells, dirt and grease.
  • As well as brushing, it’s really important to comb your dog’s coat too, unless it is very short. Brushing only deals with the top layers of the fur, and does not remove knots or matting, or get right down to the skin. Some dogs with thick coats or double-layered coats might feel smooth and well groomed on the surface, but underneath might be a mass of knots and tangles!
  • Comb your dog gently- never pull on the coat or yank out knots. If grooming becomes unpleasant for your dog, he will be much more unwilling to let you groom him another time.
  • If your dog is very knotty, hard to groom or becomes unhappy, be prepared to leave it and try again later, rather than persevering and upsetting or stressing your dog out.
  • Do your dog’s nails need trimming? Some dogs wear their nail down naturally, while others that do not walk on the roads or are less active might need your help. Only use a professional clipping tool to trim your dog’s nails, and only trim off a tiny amount at a time. You must be able to see where the nerve in the nail is to trim- and never get close to it. If you cannot see where the nerve begins because your dog’s nails are dark or thick, take him to a professional for nail clipping. Cutting too far down and hitting the nerve is painful for your dog and will put him off allowing you do to it again- plus, the nerve endings in the claws are rich with blood vessels and can bleed heavily if nicked.
  • Use your grooming routine to get your dog used to having his teeth cleaned! If you can brush your dog’s teeth just once or twice a week, this can make a massive difference to their oral hygiene and the long-term health of their teeth.
  • Wipe tearstains or mucus from around the eyes with a soft, damp cloth. Never poke around your dog’s eyes!
  • If you’re going to bathe your dog, make sure the water is a suitable temperature and your dog will not get too cold- or too hot. Hosing your dog off in the garden is not appropriate!
  • Apply pet shampoo to your dog sparingly, working on lathering the coat all the way to the skin rather than creating many bubbles.
  • Keep shampoo away from your dog’s eyes and face- use a damp cloth soaked in shampoo and water to bathe the face.
  • Don’t spray or tip water over your dog’s face.
  • Make sure you wash any soap or shampoo off your dog thoroughly.
  • Consider using a coat conditioner, especially if your dog is prone to dry skin.
  • Dry your dog thoroughly and don’t let him go outside until he is totally dry.
  • Be prepared for a messy clean up after bathing, and have plenty of old towels to hand for drying!

It may sound like a very involved procedure to bath and groom your own dog at home, and how long it takes and how hard it is will depend greatly on the temperament of your dog and how you handle it. Taking your dog to a grooming salon and allowing a professional to do it for you is definitely worthy of consideration! Nevertheless, with a little practice, grooming and bathing at home can become just another part of your pet care routine, and it’s worth giving it a go!

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