Smell that? Is there dog hair everywhere? Are his nails looking like talons yet? For the love of me, don’t fret. Your vet might have already told you when you should bathe and how you should groom your pal but you’re looking for the highlights or to be unafraid in my care. Either way, whether you take him to the groomers or do it yourself, here’s a useful recap.
Calm down and calm your dog
Just like some people may pray at the altar of the cat and others at the dog’s, not all dogs are scared of grooming. Sometimes it’s a sudden development. In this case, you need to take your pet to the vet to check for infections or the case for heightened sensitivity. A scared dog might whine, thrash about or even bite. And what’s the use if your dog looks good but is traumatized at the end of the salon date? Here’s what you can do to help them like grooming better. Don’t change your groomer very often. Start getting them used to grooming right from a young age. Proper training and careful handling can make a huge difference. It helps if you play with your dog and pet him right from the head all the way to the paws before the visit. Some dogs are soothed by aromatherapy or music may keep them distracted. It could also be that your dog is in heat, and grooming her can be messy. You can wait for her cycle to get done or groom her yourself. Every dog has its way!
Brush your worries away
Start with a comb and brush, my gift to the neat freaks. Short-haired breeds need to be brushed once or twice in a week. First run the comb in the wrong direction and then the right. Terriers, long-haired breeds, dogs with dense undercoats might need it more frequently. Their fur may also need to be trimmed regularly. Especially cut the long hairs on the face that irritate them. As it is said, “For their furs and their salvation, a brush came down from heaven…” Regular brushing will remove dead hairs, grass, dirt and prevent matting. It will distribute natural oils that maintain a healthy coat and improve blood circulation.
Prepare your pet, choose between clippers or scissors. Make sure they are sharp or they’ll pull at the hair and the cut won’t be even. Smaller slightly blunted tools are better for sensitive areas. Use the quietest tools possible if you don’t want your dog to jump and run away. Have a reference image before you. The rest is judgment and intuition. Look at how the hair is growing, which direction, where it is thickest. Give him treats after you finish. They like it as much as I like my prasad.
Dogs don’t need a bath as frequently as a brush. Every two to four months should do the trick. More than that will dry out the skin and remove the natural oils needed for a healthy coat of fur; less and you have to deal with the extra dirt, smell, dead fur and skin. Lather a dog shampoo all over your pet. Dogs have sensitive noses so avoid strongly perfumed shampoos. Some shampoos can also control ticks, fleas and lice! Ask your vet to recommend a good quality tearless product specific to your dog’s condition. Be careful not to get the shampoo in their eyes, ears and nose. In fact you might want to use a washcloth or sponge on the face. Also condition the coat after washing off the shampoo. Bad odour between baths can be controlled with no-rinse sprays.
Before your dog’s nails grow upwards and prick him, cut the damn things. This can be testing — get your dog used to your touch on their paws from a young age. They have nerves and blood vessels in their nails so it’s advisable to consult a vet. If you’re doing it yourself use a lot of positive reinforcement. Treat them every time you touch their paws. Get them used to clippers, dremels and filing boards. In white nails, you can see the quick (the blood supply and nerve nourishing the nail). It’s where the nail looks a little pink close to the paw. In black nails, you have to trim it a tiny bit by a tiny bit. Stop when you see a black center. It’s possible that you might cut too deep in your trial and error and the nail will start to bleed. It’ll be fine once you apply ice and styptic powder. You can also walk your dog on the pavement regularly. It might keep the nails from growing too long.
Ears and teeth
Use a cotton swab and cleaning solution or a baby wipe wrapped around your finger to clean the ear, once a week. Water doesn’t evaporate quickly and can enter the ear canal so avoid it. Only clean the part you can see. Excessive discharge or dark wax could mean ear mites and you ask your pet to check it out. There’s a specially designed toothbrush and toothpaste for dogs. Apply along with baking soda or just plain water at least twice or thrice a week. You can use your finger to get your dog used to the pressure and ease into using the brush. Dogs can also get cavities and tartar build-up.
Do unto dogs as you would have done unto you. Then lo and behold the miracle of a healthy pet. Bless you and your pup!
Blurb: from the scriptures
In the beginning I created grooming. And I said let the act be the most basic expression of love and care. And thus it was.
And then I said, let there be tools. And there were brushes, combs, toothbrushes, toothpastes, bathing tubs, treats, dog shampoos, wipes, cotton balls, washcloths, sprays.
And then I said let there be humans to watch over their best friends, to guide them towards their maintenance. And then one of us created humans. I think it was Brahma but I may be wrong here. And then there were families.