Grooming your dog gives you the perfect opportunity to check he’s in a healthy condition, with a clean coat and bright eyes, and no skin irritations, overgrown nails or unwelcome parasites.
Most dogs live indoors and so shed their coats quicker and more often than their wild counterparts.
This can cause loose hairs to become matted.
If not brushed out regularly they can form heavy wads that pull on the skin, causing tenderness.
As you brush check for any seeds, burs or balls of matted fur between their paw pads, which can sometimes become hard with dirt and cause discomfort.
Also look out for evidence of ticks, fleas or any skin lesions as they’ll need to be treated straightaway.
You should apply a preventative treatment regularly and always read the instructions beforehand as products can vary.
If your dog needs a wash use lukewarm (never hot) water in a shallow bath and use a bathmat to prevent him slipping and harming himself.
Use a cup to pour water over your dog but take care to avoid getting water directly on his face and head.
Try popping a clean cotton wool ball just inside your dog's ear to help stop water getting in and causing an infection – but don’t push it down into the canal.
Only use a good quality shampoo designed for pets and give him a nice rub dry afterwards.
After a wash is also a good time to give his collar, bedding and favourite teddy a clean so your dog’s fresh from head to tail.
If he gets overexcited and barks during bath time, try redirecting some of that attention onto something else.
Use a waterproof bath toy to distract your dog, or even take bathtime outside and use a paddling pool.
Your dog’s teeth and nails need attention too.
A dog’s nails tend to wear down naturally, but from time to time you may need to give them a trim. Make sure you use good quality clippers designed for the job and ensure they are sharp.
Snip the tip of each nail at a slight angle, just before the curve.
Also be aware that cutting nails too short can cause discomfort, bleeding and even an infection, so if in doubt please ask a professional.
It’s also a good idea to brush your dog’s teeth regularly as their teeth can decay just like humans.
Although many dogs dislike having their teeth brushed, you can opt for a meat-flavoured toothpaste designed for canines. Dog toothbrushes and toothpaste are available from most pet shops.
Just make sure you don’t use toothpaste for humans!
Certain breeds have more particular grooming needs:
- Bulldogs and pugs require special attention between wrinkles on their face. Clean the folds of their skin with damp cotton wool and then dry well to prevent grime and bacteria from becoming a problem.
- Droopy ears can be prone to health problems, so they should be monitored closely.
- It's a good idea to talk to your vet to get dog-grooming tips specific to your pup.