Grooming is one of the most essential parts of animal care and health. Hygiene is extremely important for our canine friends too. The amount of maintenance required each day depends on the breed of dog, so keep this in mind when choosing a new member of the family.
One thing to remember, while grooming, is to keep yourself safe. Many pets can be desensitized to grooming using treats and positive reinforcement. However, some pets are more fearful and may require prescription medications to help calm them prior to grooming. If your pet is growling, baring teeth, or vocalizing during any of the following grooming techniques, STOP—you do not want to push your pet to the point of biting or snapping. If you cannot safely groom your pet at home, contact your veterinarian to find out if they are able to provide grooming services for more fearful or strong-willed pets using mild sedation.
All dogs with fur or hair shed, regardless of their “hypoallergenic” claims. Some just shed a lot more than others. There are combs, slicker brushes, wire-pin brushes, and more. Find out which brush is best for your dog.
Brushing is extremely important to do at least every week to check for fleas, ticks, lumps, and cuts. Catching all of these things early may save you a trip to our emergency room! Brushing can also minimize allergy symptoms because it helps distribute the healthy oils over the skin.
Long-haired animals should be brushed as often as is tolerated, with daily brushings being the ideal. Some dogs such as Siberian Huskies and Akitas have double coats. When the undercoat gets caught up in the topcoat, mats and tangles can form, so these dogs need extra grooming time each day. Click Here to learn how to care for double-coated dogs. Pro Tip: You should NOT shave them!
Dogs with hair and fur may need to be trimmed to keep up with good hygiene. It can be hard to keep long-haired dogs clean, so many people bring their dogs to the groomer every 6-8 weeks for a trim and bath. Trimming is important to prevent bacteria buildup around the eyes, ears, toes, and tush. It is possible to trim your pet’s hair at home; however, shaving clippers should be used rather than scissors to trim the fur. We commonly see lacerations due to scissor trims on wiggly pets—not a fun trip to the ER!
You should try to clip your dog’s nails every week. Frequent nail clipping gets your pet used to it and slowly grows back the quick of the nail. The more you clip them, the shorter the quick becomes. The longer the nails are, the longer the quick becomes, which can cause limping as well as difficulty when trimming nails in the future. Long nails can also be torn during running and rough play, usually warranting a trip to the vet. Make sure you always have sharp clippers or a Dremel to prevent splitting the nail and Kwik Stop nearby in case you hit the quick.
You should check your dog’s ears weekly for waxy buildup or signs of infection such as redness, itchiness, or foul odor. Dogs with floppy ears are predisposed to ear infections, so keep a close eye out. You can help prevent infections by ensuring you dry your dog’s ears after a bath or swim. If they don’t show any signs of waxy buildup, leave them be!
If you notice waxy buildup without signs of infection, you can use pet-specific ear cleaner and a cotton ball to clean the outer parts of the ear and the visible part of the ear canal. Don’t forget to massage the base of the ear and let them shake out any extra cleaner. If you notice any signs of infection, see your veterinarian for an exam. An ear cleaner alone will not be sufficient to clear a bacterial or yeast infection, and some cleaners can be harmful if used on a pet with a ruptured eardrum. Do not use at-home cleaning DIYs like Hydrogen Peroxide, which may cause damage to the ear and be harmful to your pet.
Checking every week to see if your dog needs to be groomed is one very important way you can lower your vet bills. Catch any issues early on, and prevent your dog from traumatic veterinary visits that could be prevented with trimming, brushing, nail clipping, and ear cleaning. If one or more of these grooming techniques seems scary to your dog, start slow, and use plenty of treats. You want your dog to be happy and stress-free during grooming time! Don’t forget to stop if your pet is showing signs of fear or discomfort to avoid serious bites and scratches.
Please call our team at Evolution Veterinary Specialists in Lakewood, Colorado at (720)510-7707 if you have any concerns about your pet!