To groom or not to groom, that is not the question

Grooming is one of the basic needs of any pet. Keeping them clean and trimmed is as important as feeding them!

How often you groom your dog is entirely up to you, however there are times when you definitely should bath them and times when you definitely should not. There are also several other factors we should consider when grooming our dogs at home.

When you definitely should BATH YOUR DOG

As much as some dogs would love to go their entire lives without a bath – it’s necessary that we, as pet owners, are very attentive to their hygiene. There are several health issues that your dog can suffer from if left without a proper wash for too long.

You’ll know a bath is due if you notice:

  • Build-up inside ears – Ear mites and infections can occur if left dirty for too long. Dogs with especially large, floppy ears are at greater risk.
  • Coat feels greasy – This usually means there is dead fur and skin cells also building up which can eventually cause skin issues and/or yeast overgrowth
  • Odour – This is another indicator there is a build-up of dead fur/skin cells. You’ll want to give your dog a thorough brushing before bathing.

It should be noted that sometimes odour is a sign of skin issues, and a special shampoo should be used to prevent further irritation. If the odour is accompanied by constant licking or biting of the skin or rashes present, we recommend you visit your vet.

When you definitely shouldn’t BATH YOUR DOG

Much like our own scalps, dogs’ skin produces natural oils that are beneficial. These oils prevent their skin from becoming dry/irritated, and even protects against infections. For this reason, it is recommended that dogs are not washed more than once per week, as it strips the coat of these natural oils.

Some dogs become smelly again after just a few days, so it’s tempting to bathe them again. But the healthy solution is to use a deodorizing spray specifically for dogs.

Indoor vs outdoor DOGS

Dogs that spend most of their time indoors generally don’t need to be bathed as often, however regular brushing and maintenance of their coat and nails is important.

If your dog spends much of his time outdoors, extra care should be taken when grooming as they are more exposed to fleas or ticks. During every wash, it’s important to check the areas on your dog’s body where these pests tend to hide, such as the base of the tail, armpits, and groin.

What you use to wash them also depends on the dog

Puppies’ skin can be a bit more sensitive so it’s important to use one that is specifically formulated for puppies. Adult dog shampoo may contain ingredients that irritate a young puppy’s skin.

If your dog’s skin is itchy or irritated due to allergies or a skin problem, it’s possible to worsen their discomfort by using the wrong shampoo. You’ll want to use a formula designed to soothe sensitive skin.

What about brushing?

There are several advantages to daily brushing, apart from the obvious which is a healthy coat.

Some of the advantages include establishing a routine that your dog can learn to look forward to, this makes grooming easier and more enjoyable for both of you. Grooming further develops the bond we have with our dogs and helps reduce shedding all over the house.

The best brush to use on your dog depends on their coat, whether shorthaired or long haired, but many pet owners find that a combination of brush types has the best results.

  • For Long hair
    An undercoat rake will remove loose fur under the surface. Depending on the fur type, a slicker brush may also be sufficient for this. Then, a rubber-bristle brush or glove can be used last to remove any remaining loose fur/debris.
  • For Short hair
    A slicker brush followed by rubber-bristle brush or glove may be most efficient – but one or the other alone may also work fine (again, depending on their fur type).

For puppies, there are brushes that are gentler for little ones while they are still getting used to grooming. This could also be ideal for adult dogs who are afraid of brushes.

What about trimming fur?

Certain breeds/coats require occasional trimming. Some of the reasons you may trim your dog’s coat include:

  • Fur on face is blocking eyesight
  • Matting
  • Build-up around rear-end
  • Overcrowding paw pads

Using rounded-tip dog scissors for trimming and appropriately sized dog clippers are essential. Your dog needs to be calm when trimming or clipping, their safety is paramount. If you don’t feel confident in trimming or clipping your dog’s coat, please refer to a qualified dog groomer.

When to trim nails

Keeping an eye on dogs’ nail-length is important as it’s possible and fairly common for overgrown nails to cause discomfort or pain, in some cases infection. Regular walks on a pavement may eliminate the need to trim nails as it wears down the nail, but for some dogs they may need their nails trimmed now and then regardless.

It may be time for a nail trim when you notice it hurts you when they jump on you, or you can hear their nails scraping the floor in your home. It’s definitely time to trim when one or more of the claws are starting to curl inward (it can eventually start to curl into paw pad and cause infection).

When trimming at home ensure your dog is calm. Be mindful not to cut the nail too far to avoid accidentally trimming the quick – or bloodline in the claw. Doing this will hurt the dog and cause the nail to bleed. Be sure to keep an anticoagulant (such as powdered turmeric) on hand when trimming nails so you can dab some onto the bleeding claw to make it stop. If bleeding persists, please contact your vet immediately.

Grooming at home is a great way to bond with your dog. It can be easier, save you time, and save you money on professional grooming.

Things to remember when grooming at home:

  • Choose a quiet, well-lit spot in the house to groom.
  • Be calm and patient, this will influence your dog’s response.
  • Use proper dog grooming tools, they don’t need to be expensive, but they do need to be the right tool for the coat type.
  • If you are considering using clippers, please research clipper types and how to use them safely.
  • Swaddling in a towel for nail-trimming can help anxious dogs, or you can ask a family member or friend to assist you.
  • Groom regularly, is good for them and it’s good for you.