8 Simple Steps for Pet Grooming at Home
To keep your dog’s coat, teeth, ears and eyes healthy, regular grooming is a must. We all love to bury our faces in our dog’s sweet-smelling fur, and of course your dog will feel tip-top with a tangle-free coat and well-trimmed nails. Even if you have a groomer to help you keep your dog looking sharp, all dog parents need basic DIY dog grooming skills to keep your dog clean and comfortable. It’s actually quite easy if you break it down into our 8 simple guidelines on how to groom your dog at home.
Start Practicing Puppy Grooming Early
The key to success with all manner of dog training is to provide a good experience as early as possible. Grooming should be included in your puppy’s early socialization. Help your puppy grow up into a happy and relaxed dog at bath time by gently handling your puppy’s ears, paws, belly and tail during play and cuddling. If your puppy has a non-shedding coat that will need professional trimming, take your dog to the groomer for short introductory visits before they need a longer clipping session. Check out our advice on how to find a great dog groomer.
Get On a Regular Dog-Brushing Schedule
Regular brushing prevents matting by loose fur, helps shake out dirt between baths and improves the health of your dog’s coat. How much brushing your dog needs will depend on their breed. If you’re not sure, check out your dog breed’s grooming needs in our dog breed section. A sleek-coated dachshund won’t need much more than a regular wipe-down with a warm damp cloth. However, a short or medium furred dog will benefit from a thorough brushing 2-3 times a week and long-furred dogs should be brushed daily.
Additional brushing may be needed at certain times of year for breeds that “blow” their coats during shedding seasons, such as German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies and Akitas. If this is the case with your dog, consider getting a special deshedding brush that can help remove more fur with each brushing.
Make Your Dog’s Bathtime Relaxed and Comfortable
Few dogs truly enjoy bath time, but with a bit of planning and practice, you and your dog can get it done and get to post-bath zoomies as quickly as possible. Make bath day less of an ordeal by trimming your dog’s nails and brushing dirt and tangles out of your dog’s coat the day before. Praise your dog throughout these steps and be sure to reward with treats! Once bath day arrives, these quick tips will help it make less stressful for your dog:
- Only use shampoos and conditioners formulated for dogs. Avoid flea and tick shampoo if your dog is already on a topical flea and tick preventative.
- A rubber mat in your sink or tub will help keep your dog from slipping about.
- Your dog will be most comfortable with lukewarm water, not hot.
- Cotton balls tucked lightly in your dog’s ears will help keep water out.
- Wet your dog completely (except around the eyes – leave the face for last). To get an even distribution of shampoo, dilute it with water or wipe it across your dog’s coat with a shampoo-filled sponge.
- Speak comfortingly to your dog and massage gently as you bathe.This is a great time to check your dog for lumps, bumps and skin irritations. Let your veterinarian know if you find anything unusual.
- Rinse your dog completely twice or three times, depending on coat thickness. Soap residue can cause itching and irritation. Wipe around your dog’s eyes and nose with a warm, wet, soap-free cloth. Then towel-dry thoroughly. If you have a wrinkly pup, pay special attention to make sure there is no dampness left that might allow bacteria to flourish in their folds of skin.Praise your dog and get ready for some happy post-bath zoomies, fur-shaking and rolling! Be sure to check out more tips for giving your dog a bath here.
Take Special Care When Grooming Around Dog Eyes
Your dog’s eyes are just as sensitive as yours, so keep this in mind as you wash, brush and clip the hair around them. If you’re not sure your dog will stay still, consider asking a professional groomer with help with these areas.
If you notice your dog has weepy eyes, chat with your veterinarian about whether this is normal for your dog’s breed or is something that requires medical attention. Use a soft cloth and warm soap-free water to clean around your dog’s eyes and be very careful not to irritate the eye or eyelids. If your light-coated dog has dark tear stains, try this DIY dog tear-stain remedy.
Check Your Dog’s Ears Regularly
Be careful when washing your dog not to get water in their ears, as this can cause infections. Certain dog breeds (typically those with long, floppy ears) are more prone to problems with their ears, so it’s important to check them regularly. Give your dog’s ears a regular peek and a sniff whenever you’re doing your brushing routine. If they look red or dirty, feel hot, smell odd, or are sensitive to the touch, your dog could have an ear infection and you should consult your veterinarian.
If your veterinarian recommends regular ear-cleanings at home, check out our step-by-step instructions for keeping your dog’s ears clean and healthy.
Trim Your Dog’s Nails and Check Those Paw Pads
Most dogs have five nails on each front paw and four on each back paw. Like our fingernails, these grow steadily throughout your dog’s life and can become painful and ingrown if they’re not cared for. If your dog’s nails are clear, it’s easy to trim them at home with a little practice and preparation. Dark nails can be a bit trickier, so consider asking your local groomer to show you how to do it.
First, help your dog get used to their paws being touched by regularly picking up or stroking your dog’s paws. Reward with treats when you do this during regular play and cuddling. Purchase a set of pet nail trimmers (not human nail clippers as these can crush the nail) and have some corn starch or styptic powder on hand to stop bleeding in case you accidentally cut a nail too short. Choose a relaxed time, let your dog sniff the trimmers, then lift a paw and trim just the tips of the nails. Take care not to cut near the pink or black center of the nail as this may cause your dog to bleed. Keep sessions short, and don’t worry if you can only do one paw at a time. If you trim too far and a nail bleeds, dab a bit of corn starch or styptic powder on the nail tip. Check out more tips for trimming your dog’s nails, checking their paw pads and providing winter paw care.
Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Yes, you can brush your dog’s teeth! Taking care of your dog’s teeth now will help head off expensive veterinary visits in the future, so don’t overlook dental care. Introduce your puppy or dog to brushing in short, manageable daily sessions, with gradual steps.
Here are some toothy tips:
- Get your dog used to brushing by rubbing your dog’s teeth and gums with your finger for a few seconds at a time.
- Allow your dog to taste the toothpaste and gently rub it on your dog’s teeth and gums with your finger or a finger brush for a few sessions.
- After your dog is comfortable with a finger brush, introduce a bristle brush designed for dogs. Move the brush gently in a circular motion over your dog’s teeth. Start with a few teeth at a time. Over time, build up to about 30 seconds on the outside of the teeth on each side of your dog’s mouth, both upper and lower.Need more guidance to keep your dog’s teeth pearly white?.
Check out more tips for brushing your dog’s teeth
Your dog’s healthy coat, skin, and teeth begin with good nutrition.
A nutritious, well-balanced diet is an important part of your dog’s beauty treatment. Find the best diet for your dog’s age and activity on Purina.com.
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