How Often Should I Groom my Dog?

It doesn’t matter if your dog has a long, medium or short coat; if your dog is considered a non-shedding dog then needs to be groomed regularly. Grooming doesn’t only make your dog look good, but it keeps your dog healthy and feeling well. If you find yourself asking how often or when to groom your dog, the answer is “frequently.” Your exact schedule will depend on your dog and the amount of time you have.

The short answer: Once every 4-6 weeks you should consider taking your dog to a groomer (or groom at home) for hair clipping and nail trim. But this time can vary depending on breed and the length of hair you prefer your dog to have. Brushing should happens daily, ear cleaning weekly, and bathing monthly. If you have difficulty keeping up with brushing and ear cleaning at home, then you should see a groomer more often.

While you may choose to have a professional groomer clip your dog’s coat once every month or so, there are tasks that you can easily complete at home.

Brushing

Brushing is a grooming ritual that can provide relaxation for both you and your pet. Brushing your dog’s fur keeps it free of mats and tangles that can pull tightly on the skin, causing discomfort.
Long-haired breeds of dog should be brushed or combed daily with the proper tools. Medium- and short-coated dogs need brushed less often, but daily brushing is still welcomed by many dogs regardless of the length of their coat. Regular brushing also helps reduce shedding, and will save your home from getting covered in loose hair.

Bathing

When to Bathe your dogThere’s an old rule of thumb that says dogs can’t be bathed often. This is no longer the case. With the pet-safe shampoos on the market today, you can bathe your dog as often as you like. Some pet owners choose to bathe their dog only when it is dirty. Other pet owners choose to bathe their dog on a regular basis, whether it is once a week or once each month.

To bathe your dog properly, first wet it down well with lukewarm water. Lather your dog with shampoo, and rinse your dog well. Dry your dog with a towel and allow your dog to air dry.

Bathing your dog helps keep both its skin and coat clean. Bathing washes away potential allergens, and keeps your dog’s coat free of dirt and debris.

Toenails

Dog’s toenails grow at different rates. When your dog’s toenails are cut correctly and often enough, they will not click on the floor or pavement when the dog walks. Clipping toenails is not difficult, but it can take some practice.

Dogs have a blood vessel in the toenail called the quick. The quick is easily seen in dogs that have light-colored nails, but it is very difficult to see in dog’s with black nails. Cutting into the quick is not the end of the world, but it is uncomfortable for your dog. Think of the pain you feel when you pull a hangnail or break your nail into the nail bed. Your dog experiences a similar sensation when you cut into the quick.

Most dog’s tolerate a clipper-type cutter more readily than a guillotine-type cutter. If you can see the quick, cut to just in front of where it stops. For black-nailed dogs, cut to just where the nail begins to hook.

Keep a product like Kwik Stop styptic powder handy when you are cutting toenails. This product will stop bleeding if you cut into the quick. Failing to keep your dog’s toenails trimmed can cause the nails to curve under and into your dog’s pads. This not only causes a painful condition, but can eventually affect your dogs foot and ankle joints due to an altered gate.

Ear Cleaning

Cleaning your dog’s ears once each week helps to prevent ear infections. Cleaning your dog’s ears is a relatively easy task. You can purchase cleanser from your veterinarian or the pet store.

Fill your dog’s ears with cleanser, and massage the ears at the base. Allow your dog to shake its head. Repeat this process twice more. Wipe out your dog’s ears with a cotton ball or piece of gauze. Use a clean cotton ball or gauze pad on each ear to avoid cross-contamination.

Dogs that swim benefit from a product like Swimmer’s Ear. This product helps to keep the ear canals dry. Excessive moisture can rapidly lead to ear infections.

Benefits of a Regular Routine

There are many benefits of regular grooming for both you and your pet. The ritual itself is very calming for the both of you, reducing stress and anxiety. Regular grooming can also serve to deepen the bond between you and your dog.

Grooming involves several hands-on activities. By regularly touching and looking at your dog, you may notice spots, lumps and bumps more quickly, allowing you to seek treatment in their early stages.

Regular cleaning of your dog’s ears can help to prevent infection. It can also alert you to an infection when it starts, not several weeks after it has set in.

Grooming offers one of the best ways to get to know your dog’s body. When you know what your dog feels like and looks like on a normal basis, you are able to notice abnormalities quicker. If you don’t already have a grooming ritual, put one in place today for the health of your pet!

Photos By:Richard Masoner, Chris Connell
creative commons licensed ( BY-SA )

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