Grooming your dog

Did you know that a dog’s fur is made up of the same protein, Keratin, as in hair, feathers, hoofs, claws and horns?  As like in humans, fur comes in thick, thin, curly or straight. Our hair grows and so does theirs.  I bet, when you cut your hair, you feel good.  Your dog will feel the same.


A dog’s fur grows in stages:  the anagen stage – this stage, your dog’s fur is growing, The catagen stage – the end of active growth, the fur has reached its determined length. Then there is the telogen stage, this is the stage where nothing happens. The final stage is the exogen stage this is when the hair dies and starts falling out - the dreaded shedding stage.

The only way to keep your dog’s shedding under control is to brush your dog regularly. For a heavy shedder brush daily especially during the shedding season. The best grooming tool for this will be something like an undercoat rake, Furminator or the grooming tool for dogs.  Short-coated shedders will benefit with a grooming glove.  Brushing your dog daily will form a strong bond between you and your dog. Always give your dog a good brush before bathing him.

Cleaning your dog's eyes and ears.

Infection of the eye is usually due to bacteria. Bacteria feed on the mucus (sleep) in the corner of the eye and can migrate into the eye. Keeping your dog’s eyes free of mucus will save a lot of pain and money.

Keep your dog's hair around the eyes trimmed. Use a blunt-nosed scissors to do this, but if you are scared your vet will help you. Keeping the hair away from their eyes will prevent scratching that will cause bacteria.  Before trimming, please make sure there is no pigment loss around the eyes.

Clean the corners of your dog’s eyes with an eyewash that will not sting. Rub the eye very gently with a moistened cotton wool ball. Some dogs have a tear stain, these can be very difficult to get rid of.  But with a little trimming and the use of tear stain remover like Kyron Brighteye liquid, Eye Clens Eyewash, Show Eyes Solution or pads daily then stains will disappear.  

Cleaning your dog's’ ears is a must especially if they have allergies, swim a lot or has a yucky smell.  Clean only what you can see, don’t go digging with an earbud. There are some products on the market that will make it easier on you, like Virbac Epi-otic, Physiological Ear Cleaner, Otoclean or Kyron Clean ear. Squirt the solution into the ear canal, give the back of the ear (close to the head) a little rub to get the solution down into the ear canal, then with a cotton ball clean the dirt from the outer ear. Always contact your vet if you see any redness or if there is a peculiar smell.

Clipping of the nails.

You are lucky if your dog doesn’t mind their paws being touched.  As for some of us, it’s a nightmare. The dog is either very fidgety or you are afraid of “quicking” your dog. If your dog runs around on hard surfaces all day, it may not be necessary to trim their nails, but if your dog is indoors all day, or on soft ground, then yes, you will need to trim.

How to trim your dog’s nails.

Play with your dog’s paws often and introduce the clippers frequently, do not cut yet. Let him get used to you handling his paws and seeing and sniffing the clipper. Use lots of praise and his favourite treat. Make sure your clipper is a decent one.

Hold your dogs’ paw firmly but gently. Cut the nail below the quick at a 45-degree angle. Take small amounts of the nail off at a time. If your dog has white nails, the wick will be visible, but if it is a dark nail, clip away bit by bit until you see the white inside the nail with a dot of black in the centre. Check your dog’s nails every three to four weeks.  Don’t forget the dew claw.

If you, accidentally clip the nail too short, pack a pinch of cornstarch into the end of the nail to stop the bleeding,

Cleaning of teeth

Don’t you just love that morning kiss from your best friend or them breathing straight into your face? Lovely! It won’t be so bad if their breath is fresh. Did you know that dental disease can cause more serious illnesses, like kidney disease and possibly heart disease?  So keep your dog's teeth pearly white is not just for show but also for health reasons.

There are a few dental products on the market for your dog. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, rinses, foams and water additives.

There are two types of toothbrushes on the market the long-handled toothbrush and a Finger Brush. Use whichever one you feel comfortable with. The Long Handled toothbrush is good to get all the way to the back teeth. The finger brush does the same, but you might have to put your whole hand in your dog’s mouth.

When brushing your dog's teeth do not use your toothpaste as there are many agents in human toothpaste that can be either poisonous or harmful to your dog. So it's best to be on the safe side and use an oral gel or Pet toothpaste. The oral gel can be rubbed onto the teeth and gums or can be used with a brush.  Pet toothpaste or oral gel is malt flavoured, a flavour your dog will love.  Always start brushing your dog’s teeth at a young age to make it easier in the future. Or should you start later, allow your dog to taste the toothpaste or gel first. Brush for a short while at first, but if your dog gets agitated, stop. Reward with a treat when finished.

Oral Rinse can be used between brushing or after an oral procedure. If you do not have time to clean your dog's teeth, try TropiClean Fresh Breath Mint Foam, it will keep your dog's breath smelling fresh and teeth sparkling clean. Adding a capful of water additive to their daily water it will combat halitosis and prevent plaque and tartar buildup.

After a day of grooming reward your dog with some delicious treats

Bathing your dog

Bath time can be a fun time for you and your pet, but it can also be very stressful. If your pooch is feeling stressed, talk to him to reassure him. Bathing your dog will help him keep clean and free of dirt and parasites.  How often you should bath your dog depends on the environment and type of coat. Bathing once a month will work for most dogs but dogs with an oily coat (Basset Hounds) may need a bath more frequently.

Always brush your dog before bathing. Get the matts out by either brushing or cutting, as they hold water and can cause skin irritation. Put cotton wool into their ears so no water can get in.  This helps prevent infections and irritation.

Use lukewarm water, like you would use for a baby. Dogs can burn easily if placed into hot water.  Large breed dogs will need cooler water as they overheat a lot easier.  If the weather is good, large breeds can be washed outside with the hose pipe. But remember, if you find it cold the dog will find it cold. So make sure it is a lovely hot day. 

Always talk to them to reassure them. Keep them calm, they will eventually realise it is fun.

Use dog shampoo. Never use human shampoo. The pH of your dog’s skin is different to that of yours. Your shampoo is more acidic so it will upset the balance of your dog’s skin.  Work the dog shampoo into a gentle lather and massage it all over their body.  Ooh, they will love the message. Keep away from their eyes.

Rinse your dog well. If any soap is left behind, it can irritate their skin. So rinse, rinse and rinse again.

Towel and air dry unless you have a hair dryer designed for dogs. Our hair dryers are too hot for your dog.

All products mentioned in this blog can be found at any online pet store or vet store. If you are unsure about doing your own grooming.  Vet Directory has a list of Professional groomers in your area.