Grooming your dog is essential to his good health. The kind of grooming he needs will depend on what kind of coat he has. For most shorthaired dogs you can give them a good brushing once a week and their coats will be fine. However, if you have a longhaired dog, then you will need to count on grooming your dog a couple of times a week. Grooming will also take longer.
There are some basic grooming supplies that you will need no matter what kind of coat your dog has. Here are some suggestions:
- A good brush
- Greyhound comb
- Ear cleaner
- Nail clippers or rotary nail sander/grinder
- Dog toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shampoo and conditioner for your dog
You can buy most of the grooming supplies for your dog at a pet supply store or order them from a pet catalog or from an online pet supply store.
Choose a brush that is comfortable for your hand. You should choose longer bristles for dogs with long coats so the bristles can reach your dog’s skin. Good brushes are usually made of boar bristles or a combination of boar bristles and nylon. Boar bristles do a good job or distributing the oils in your dog’s coat and they don’t tear the hair the way that nylon can.
A Greyhound comb isn’t a comb for Greyhounds. It’s a medium to long metal comb with teeth that are wider apart at one end and closer together at the other end. You can use it to separate long hair. It’s also good to use it on a shorthaired dog when you are trimming feet or just straightening hair.
All dogs need to have their ears cleaned once a week. This will keep them from getting ear infections. You can purchase a good liquid ear cleaner either from your vet or from a pet supply store.
Your dog also needs his nails trimmed weekly. You can use nail clippers or a rotary nail sander/grinder. Nail clippers come in two types: a scissors type which some people prefer for Toy dogs; and a guillotine type which can work better for dogs with larger nails. Nail sanders/grinders are popular with many people these days who have seen them advertised on TV. They seem to work well for dogs with nails of average thickness though they may not be powerful enough to work on dogs with thick nails. Dog show people use a more powerful version of the nail grinder to do dog nails. It’s a Dremel-like tool with a sanding drum on the end.
Whichever method you prefer, the important thing about doing your dog’s nails is that you do them regularly. If you trim your dog’s nails weekly you only have to take off a small amount of nail and your dog is never in any danger of being hurt. Start doing your dog’s nails when he is a small puppy so he gets used to having his nails done. Use lots of treats to reward him as you do each paw. If you go slowly and don’t try to take off too much nail, then doing your dog’s nails doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience for either of you.
You should also brush your dog’s teeth at least once a week. Veterinary dentists recommend that you brush your dog’s teeth daily. They say that 70 percent of dogs already have gum disease by the time they are three years old. You can purchase a toothbrush made for your dog at a pet supply store. Be sure to use toothpaste made for your dog. Human toothpaste can be harmful to him since it’s full of artificial sweeteners.
Brushing your dog’s teeth isn’t hard. Most dogs like the dog toothpaste since it comes in dog flavors — beef, chicken, peanut butter. They think it’s a treat. Just put the toothpaste on your dog’s toothbrush and brush his teeth as you would your own. Make sure you brush in the back where teeth are prone to decay.
For longhaired dogs you should also purchase a pin brush. You can use the pin brush to lift and separate your dog’s feathering. You shouldn’t use it against his skin. It’s primarily for his long hair.
For shorthaired dogs you should purchase a rubber curry comb or hound glove. These grooming supplies do a good job of loosening your dog’s short hair, especially when he’s shedding — and shorthaired dogs shed a lot.
If you have a wirehaired dog then you will also need a slicker brush, as well as the hound glove. Wirehaired dogs don’t shed the way the shorthaired dogs do, so you need to use the slicker brush on their coat to help drag out dead hair.
When it comes to shampoos and conditioners, there are special formulas for every coat type. Look for shampoos and conditioners for your dog’s specific coat type. If you have a shorthaired dog then you can use most shampoos and conditioners. For longhaired dogs you may need a shampoo and conditioner for a silky coat. If your dog’s coat is dry then look for products than can help this problem. There are also special shampoos for wirehaired dogs that will keep the coat “crispy” and textured, which is the way that many terrier coats are supposed to feel.
If you have a white dog and his coat looks dingy and yellow, you can look for a shampoo to brighten the coat. Be aware that some whitening shampoos can be a little harsh. You may need to do some extra conditioning after using one of these shampoos.
If your dog has an skin problems you may need to look for an oatmeal shampoo or another shampoo made for skin problems. You may want to check with your vet to see if your dog needs a medicated shampoo.
You can keep your dog looking his best with just a little grooming each week. Of course, one of the best ways to keep your dog looking good is to feed him a good quality food. His good health will be apparent in his coat.
If you have more questions about grooming your dog or you’d like to find out how dogs of your breed are usually groomed, check web sites that have your breed. Look at books with your breed. You will probably find pictures of show dogs. Remember that those dogs take constant grooming. But you may also find pictures of pets and dogs out doing their normal work. It may give you some grooming ideas.
Don’t be afraid to try some new grooming ideas. Remember, it’s only hair.
Having discovered a fondness for insects while pursuing her degree in Biology, Randi Jones was quite bugged to know that people usually dismissed these little creatures as “creepy-crawlies”.