How to Groom And Clip Your Dog For Good Health And Appearance
How your dog benefits from grooming
A gloriously shiny coat is a sign of a healthy dog, but proper grooming does more than simply make your dog look good. Grooming stimulates and invigorates your dog’s skin and this is a natural defence against disease and health risks posed by parasites, fungi and bacteria.
Regular grooming enables you to monitor your dog's health – for example to check for sore spots, painful joints, strange lumps or grass seeds. This helps to avoid serious health concerns and to keep your dog in top condition.
Grooming is also a perfect way to strengthen the bond between you and your dog - just look at that bright, happy expression on your dog’s face and its wagging tail!
Grooming your dog at home
Your dog's grooming starts from the moment it is born, when its mother licks and cleans her pup. This is nature’s way of grooming and bonding. That is why it helps to begin grooming your pup as soon as it arrives home so it will associate this with its mother's care.
Start grooming by choosing a brush that won't damage your dog’s skin. Always brush gently with the lay of the coat and groom all parts of the body including the legs and feet. This will also get your pup used to handling.
Treat grooming like an obedience session with praise and treats for good behaviour.
As your pup grows it may be easier (and kinder on your back) to have it sit, lie down or stand on a raised surface such as a garden table or the top of the washing machine. Take care to make the surface non-slip!
If your dog’s breed is one with a long or double coat, pay special attention to the thicker areas of the coat, especially behind the ears, in the 'armpits', under the tail and at the rear of the back legs. If you choose to use a rake or de-matting tool, stroke gently as skin damage can result from incorrect or rough use.
Professional grooming should be introduced at about 4-5 months. At this age your pup is ready to become familiar with hydrobaths, clippers and dryers.
Tips on bathing your dog at home
Make sure your dog is on a non-slip surface and the water is comfortably warm. Do not use human shampoo as this may damage your dog's skin. Some dogs have conditions or allergies that require special shampoo. If so, ensure you follow the manufacturer's or your vet's instructions.
For the best results, wet your dog and place enough pet shampoo to cover a 50 cent piece on a damp sponge. Gently sponge your dog's coat all over. Do not rub long hair as it will cause matting. Squeeze out the dirt, rinse thoroughly and repeat.
A pet conditioner is recommended for long haired breeds.
Allow your dog to shake dry, then gently towel dry by squeezing out water rather than rubbing. If you use a hairdryer, hold the dryer at least 30cm away from your pet and make sure it is on a cool setting. Be careful as your dog may be frightened by the dryer at first. For long coated breeds make sure there are no knots or mats in the coat before bathing as they will tighten and become more difficult to remove when wet. Brush thoroughly before bathing and again once dry.
How often should you groom your dog?
The amount of grooming your dog needs depends on the length and texture of its coat, how active it is and what it discovers while playing. Whatever the breed, long or short haired, regular grooming will make life more enjoyable and less stressful for a dog. The following guide will help you find the right level of grooming. Ask your local vet for more advice.
- Some long coated breeds need weekly bathing and daily brushing to keep their coat free from matting.
- Short coated dogs such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Boxers need monthlybathing but still require brushing once or twice a week to remove dead hair and invigorate their skin.
- Long and/or double coated breeds such as Border Collies or German Shepherds need monthly bathing but may require daily brushing.
- Poodles and other breeds whose hair grows constantly require regular clipping to avoid matting and minimise the risk of parasites or debris.
- Breeds like Schnauzers, West Highland White Terriers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels all need regular and specialised grooming to maintain the traditional style for their breed.
Your Grooming Checklist
- Lips and ears (particularly Spaniels) – check and clean away food debris
- Eyes – clean away any discharge
- Ears – unfortunately some dogs have hair growing in their ear canals. This hair raps wax and tends to provide a fertile environment for parasites, bacteria and yeasts. Pluck hair and gently clean where you can see inside the ear canal.
- Feet – remove debris and vegetation caught between the pads and toes daily
- Remove faecal matter around the anus
- Remove hair or debris lodged around the vulva
- Remove matts of hair
- Nails – most will wear down naturally but sometimes they do need cutting, in particular the dew claws
Invest in the right grooming tools
For long coated and double coated breeds you will need:
- A slicker brush - make sure it is soft and the pins not too stiff.
- A comb. The type with revolving teeth is particularly good, as it eases through knots and tangles without pulling. This type also removes dead undercoat effectively.
For short coated breeds we recommend:
- A Zoom Groom or rubber curry comb. Finish off with a damp chamois, or sheepskin mitt for that extra sheen.
Please ask your local Vets4Pets vet or our friendly staff if you have any questions. You can find an excellent range of grooming products at your local clinic and in our online shop.
If you have any questions, please contact your local Vets4Pets practice.