Gather the things you’ll need…
- Ear cleaner
- Cotton balls
- Damp cloth
- Dog nail clippers
- Collar/lead for in the bath
- Dog shampoo
- Blow dryer
First thing – brush…
Pic courtesy: Maria-Jose, France Always brush your dog first, as matts become unmanageable when wet. Short-haired dogs will probably only need a quick going over, while medium or long-coated dogs will require a thorough brush through to ensure the coat is tangle free. Start at the bottom of your dog’s legs and work your way up the legs and over the body, always brushing with the natural lay of the coat. Once you have brushed your dog all over, repeat the process using a comb.
Take care of the eyes…
Some breeds require more maintenance in this area than others, while it may be a simple matter of wiping the area in the corner of the eyes where gunk can collect, long-haired dogs may require special attention to make sure that all gunk is truly out of the coat. Too remove any gunk, just wipe around the eye carefully using a damp towel, this is best done on a daily basis so it does not collect here and cause a sore patch. A healthy eye should be clear and should not show any signs of irritation or unusual discharge. Your vet or dog groomer can cut hair around the eyes for you if it is getting into the dog’s eye (do not try this yourself).
Don’t neglect the ears…
To clean your dog’s ears, apply some ear cleaning solution to a cotton ball and simply wipe dirt and wax away from the inner ear. Don’t rub too hard and don’t travel too far into the ear as both could cause damage. A clean ear may contain some wax but shouldn’t have any particular smell to it. If your dog’s ear looks swollen, red, irritated, shows signs of discharge or sores, or smells really bad, contact your vet as your dog could well have a painful ear infection.
Clip the nails…
Left uncared for nails can grow to enormous lengths, which twist the toe and cause pain, it can also lead to skeletal damage, sometimes even curling into the pads of the foot. To keep your dog’s nails short, they need to be clipped regularly. Depending on the dog you may need to do it as often as once a week or as infrequently as once a month. To clip the nails, trim a very small amount of nail away with a pair of dog nail clippers, you should be careful not to clip them too short as this will cause pain. If you accidentally clip too much, you will hit a blood vessel and make them bleed; styptic powder or corn starch applied with a bit of pressure should stop any bleeding. If you are not confident enough to clip the nails, your vet or dog groomer will be happy to do it for you.
Bathing your beauty…
Samantha Law Bathing the dogs is an important part of grooming process as it removes all dirt and grease from the dog’s coat, it also helps to loosen dead hair and improve circulation to the skin. The first thing you need to do when bathing a dog is to secure him in the bath so that he cannot jump out of the bath and injure himself. The dog should be thoroughly soaked with warm water using a shower or hose with spray attachment starting at the dog’s back end and working forwards and downwards, this is so that the dog’s head is the last bit to be wet and means the dog is less likely to shake and soak you!
When doing the dog’s head, it is important to be particularly careful and not get any water or shampoo in the dog’s eyes, ears, nose or mouth. Once the dog is thoroughly soaked you should then add the shampoo which has been diluted, again starting at the rear and working forward. The shampoo needs to be thoroughly worked in to ensure it gets right down to the skin and not just the top layer of the coat. Once the dog has been thoroughly shampooed, the shampoo needs to rinse out, again using warm water from the shower, you should start at the head and work towards the back of the dog as this will ensure you aren’t rinsing shampoo back into a part of the coat you have already rinsed. Some breeds such as Poodles or Lhasas will require conditioning after shampooing and this should be done using the same process as for shampooing. It is important that no shampoo or conditioner is left in the coat as it can cause dandruff or skin irritation if not rinsed out fully.
Don’t overdo bathing as bathing too can dry out the skin and deprive it of natural oils. Also never use human shampoos on your dog as these are not formulated for them.
Drying – important too…
The drying process should be started while the dog is still in the bath by running your hands over the dog to squeeze as much water as possible, then you can towel dry the dog as much as possible. On short-haired dogs, you need to use a brisk action but this can cause knots on longer haired dogs so you need to be more careful when drying them.
When blow drying your dog’s hair, make sure that the blow dryer is on the cool setting, it may take longer than usual, but it’s worth the time because there will be less of a chance that your dog’s hair and skin will dry out. While blow drying your dog, brush through the coat as this will help the air circulate around the hair and dry it quicker.
Now, you’re all done and should have a lovely clean pooch (for a few hours at least!)
(Samantha Laws owns Doggy Styling Professional Grooming salon in Cambridgshire, England. She is also a member of the British Dog Grooming Association and English Groomers Group).