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Dog Grooming 101
We go to great expense and effort to make sure our favorite four-legged friends are happy and healthy. The dog grooming industry alone brings in billions of dollars annually thanks to our insistence on keeping our canine family members nicely coiffed as welling as smelling fresh and clean. Some dog breeds require more grooming maintenance than others but all dogs need basic grooming to help maintain good health. Good grooming habits are not for show dogs only, they must be a part of your overall care. Also, for those of us who allow our pets to cuddle, lick our feet, sleep with and take over the couch, we prefer close company with those that practice good hygiene for obvious reasons.
Dog grooming tends to be very expensive though. Some have unlimited funds and prefer to let professionals tend to the grooming of their pets. Others may not have room in their budgets for grooming or just prefer to do things themselves. Either way, failing to maintain the proper care and grooming are neglecting their pets and putting their health at risk. So if you don’t have the money in your budget you need to learn to properly groom your dog.
Before you rant and rave about all these things, stop for a while. There are actually things that you can use to groom your dogs without busting your allotted budget. How?
You will notice that your pet’s shampoo tends to cost more than your own shampoo. Many dog owners would rather use dog soap as a shampoo to cut back on the cost. This is a definite no-no if you want to maintain the shine of your dog’s coat.
Ingredients used to make bar soap are not the same as the ingredients in shampoos. In addition, soaps might cause irritation and dryness. Thinking that you have saved money may end up costing a lot more if your pet’s skin and coat dry out too much and need treatment.
Consider Aloe Vera shampoos. You are probably using one. The good news is that you can use this same shampoo for your dog. When mixed with water, the solution can work just as well as any other dog shampoo. Baby shampoo is also another option and it won’t sting the eyes. I find baby shampoo useful on my Shih Tzu who tends towards skin irritations. I find that diluted baby shampoo lets me clean well the areas under the eyes that have folds in the skin and get easily irritated or infected if left unattended.
These types of shampoos are mild. You will have no worries of irritating your dog’s scalp. In addition, the formula that is present in Aloe Vera can leave your dog’s coat looking shiny and full. All this while also using the shampoo yourself is very budget friendly.
Nice Smelling Scents
We are all pressed for time and just can’t always bathe our dogs as often as necessary to keep them smelling great. In most cases, soaping and shampooing is the only thing you are can find time for. If given the time and the resources, you surely would want your canine family member to smell good too!
Dog perfumes can now be bought at pet stores. Lightly applied, your furry friend will smell as sweet as if they have just stepped out of a bath. Keep in mind this should not be substituted for scheduled bathes needed to help keep your pet in great health. When pressed for time, I found that the use waterless shampoo can be a great option. My personal choice is Bio-Groom Waterless Bath. I find that the Bio-Groom products to be reasonably priced and very quality products.
If you cannot afford to buy one of these perfumes, you can go for the other option. That is, you can buy one of those body sprays in the grocery. Find one that you like and spray them all over your dog. Be sure to put some in areas that have the tendency to smell bad. If you want to use a spray made for humans you want to be certain that the spray will not harm your dog. Check out your local health store and find one containing essences that are known not to cause irritations.
Teeth & Mouth Care
Now many of you will think this is crazy but if you really care about your canine family member, you must brush their teeth on a regular basis. If not, you will have a dog with very bad breath in addition to plaque buildup that can negatively affect your pet’s heart as well as allowing infections to making your pet sick. It is also very painful to your faithful and loyal friend to have rotting and decaying teeth. It is also not a good idea to use human paste on your pets based on the ingredients but to use a paste or liquid used specifically for the non-human family members.
Toothbrushes & Toothpaste
For my little dogs, I use human baby or child size toothbrushes. For my large girl, I use a human adult, soft bristle brush. Brushing should be introduced to your dog when it is as young as possible. You must be patient and realize that this will take some time for most dogs to cooperate with the teeth cleaning process. There are liquid teeth and plaque removers that you just rub on to the teeth if all else fails.
Believe it or not, many dogs are very susceptible to getting ear infections just like some children. It is extremely important to keep your pet’s ears dry and cleaned. Use a cotton ball to gently wipe out the external part of the inner ear leaving the canal alone. My Shih Tzu has hard to maintain ears and there are periods that I must use ear cleaner drops. I found that Otiderm for dogs and cats is gentle and contains soothing aloe vera. My Labrador Retriever has had a few ear infections for which I found Zymox – Otic HC drops have cleared the problem up quickly. However, always check with your vet first for any advice or information.
I use Opti Ear Cleaner periodically to make sure the ear canals do not become clogged with dirt residue and wax. A pair of tweezers works fine for the occasional tick removal.
Brushing your pet’s coat is important in several ways. It helps to minimize shedding all over the house. It removes loose dander, dirt and any possible critters from your pet. This helps to cut down on those family members who are prone to allergies. It helps brings the natural oils to the surface of the coat which helps to keep it soft and shiny.
Brushes & Combs
The importance of brushes and combs go beyond their use as cleaning tools. Using either a brush or comb will help the coat to stay healthy and shiny as well. A brush and comb can also be used to prevent and remove tangles and mats. However, if these two cannot de-matt or untangle portions of the coat, you should use a de-matting tool. This will effectively remove the mats as well as the tangles in every part of the dog- especially the portions of the ears, tail, and toes. I find it necessary to use the Furminator to brush my Labrador/border collie mix due to her very excessive shedding. I also use the Furminator shed control shampoo in the warmer months when shedding is the heaviest. The Furminator product line is reasonably priced and seems to do a good job helping to reduce shedding. There are cheaper de-shedding tools out there but I found them to be inferior in quality and not up to the job required.
Dog toenails grow constantly so you should periodically cut them every 2 to 3 weeks. This is the one job that my three four-legged kids absolutely hate to have done but it is not an option. It is important to prevent damage as well as smoothing them to stop accidental scratch of skin or floors. Uncut toenails can be uncomfortable for your dog, limiting it from doing normal things such as playing and running. Long rough nails can also scratch humans as well as hardwood floors.
Nail Clippers or Cutters
On my small dogs, I like to use a standard human nail clipper and then use a battery operated smoother to file off the sharp edges. On my lab, I use a standard dog nail clipper for a large dog and then use the smoother to smooth the sharp edges of the clipped nail. You can use the battery operated smoother/clipper for cutting and smoothing but I found a first clip and then smooth to work best on my dogs. There are two types of clippers: scissors style nail clipper or the guillotine style clipper. Both will work well. I like to use the battery powered rotating nail trimmer as a filing tool after cutting. Always keep mastic powder on hand in case you accidentally cut your dog’s nails below the quick. It is sometimes very difficult to stop the bleeding without using an aid to help stop it.
Moving on, the following are optional equipment you can purchase. Of course, the importance of these still depends on you, the usage, and how much budget you have. Save money with homemade remedies for controlling dog fleas.
Other Dog Grooming Equipment You Need:
This question depends on several things. Is your dog a breed that needs to get haircuts to maintain a good healthy coat or just bathing and general hygiene? If you are like me and suddenly found yourself with a budget shortage to have your dog clipped and groomed by a professional, you will need some extra grooming tools. You can purchase all of the equipment that a professional groomer uses or take less expensive shortcuts and make do with limited dog grooming tools. I have a laundry tub where the girls get their baths and for clipping my Maltese and Shih Tzu, I lay a towel on top of the washer next to the laundry tub and that is my grooming table. After much trial and error, I learned how to maneuver the dogs to get to all areas for cutting and trimming without the need for a table and grooming arm to keep the dog standing. This is determined based on the cooperation level and personality of each individual dog. There are many places to buy a portable grooming table and accessories and the price can vary greatly.
Trimmers & Scissors
For some dog owners, especially those with long coat breeds, trimmers, scissors, and clippers are essential dog grooming equipment. This is because dogs with these breeds constantly require trimming and cutting. Just like humans, dogs get easily irritated with their long coat. The hair on the dog’s face could destruct its line of vision making it hesitant and fearful of things. An untrimmed or long matted coat can also cause many unhealthy problems as well as pain and discomfort to your dog. Making sure you have the right basic equipment will help your dog maintain good health.
After bathing, you must dry the coat of your dog while brushing. You can either use a towel. But for a more convenient grooming, the dryer will be the right tool. Dog dryer may be very helpful if you own long coat breed of dog. My dogs hate blow dryers so while I have them on the washer grooming them, I toss a few of their bath towels in the dryer and then use the warm towels to aid in the drying process.