Grooming is the time to care and bond with your pooch. Most important, it is the first step towards a healthy canine.
For most of us, grooming refers to external beauty care of pets. But, as we say ‘beauty is only skin deep’ and while grooming, we actually check out for health problems in our pets. A wellgroomed dog will remain free from some of the most commonly encountered problems viz., skin affections, ear and dental problems. Grooming also improves bonding between pet and owner since it gives a closer feel of each other.
Pet owners often complain that their pet resists grooming sessions. This mostly happens if they are not accustomed to grooming. So, start grooming your pet from an early age (for e.g. a month’s age) and make it a regular practice. This would make grooming a pleasant experience for you as well as your pet.
7 Steps to healthy grooming
- Brushing and combing
- Choose a suitable brush or comb as per the fur of your pet (long coat – pin brush, medium coat – steel comb and short coat – hard brush).
- Brush and comb daily or at least on alternate days.
- Ensure that hair coat throughout the body is combed and brushed properly.
- In long hair dogs, carefully remove the matts from hair.
- Brushing removes dirt and debris from the hair coat, making it cleaner and healthier.
- Dogs should be properly massaged at least twice a week to keep their skin and fur in good shape.
- Massage can be done with fingertips or massage gloves.
- Massage should be done with enough pressure over the skin.
- Dry massage is preferred in dogs except for any specific skin condition wherein oil massage is to be given.
- A proper massage will increase the blood circulation to provide vitality to the skin.
- Massage will also open all the pores of the skin to assist the secretion of natural oil from the glands situated beneath the skin.
- The oil secreted keeps the skin lustrous and fights infection due to antimicrobial property.
- Dogs should not be frequently bathed. An alternative to bathing is massage and brushing.
- Preferably a month’s gap should be given between baths.
- Selection of soap and shampoo is very important for each bath as it will depend on the condition of the skin and hair at that point of time. As a general rule, mild dog soaps and shampoos (without any chemical agents) should be used if the skin is free from any infection. In case of infection or ectoparasite infestation, specific soaps and shampoos can be used as per the vet’s advice.
- Never use human soaps and shampoos since they may cause irritation to dog’s skin as they differ in pH and may have certain chemical agents not suitable to dogs’ skin.
- Excess quantity of soap and shampoo should not be used since it will be difficult to rinse. Shampoo should always be used after mixing in water.
- Rinse your dog properly with water after application of soap and shampoo so as to remove the froth completely since the left over soap and shampoo will create irritation, itching and dryness.
- Following bath, the dog’s fur and skin should be dried with a towel or drier. Avoid excessive heat while using drier. Drying is very important as the presence of moisture trapped in fur is a very good medium for growth of infectious agents.
- Trimming and cutting
- This is required to remove hair matting, lighten the pet’s coat mainly during summer or to give a smart look to your pooch.
- Never cut the hair too short since it may increase the chance of skin affections as the hair coat serves as the barrier to infectious agents, dirt and debris.
- A competent groomer can give specialized cutting suitable as per the breed’s requirement.
- In long hair breed, hair around the eyes should be regularly trimmed to avoid irritation and injury to the eyes.
- Ear cleaning
- Clean your dog’s ears every 15 days to one month.
- Also clean the ears after every bath to remove moisture, soap or shampoo.
- Use plain cotton for ear cleaning.
- Wax dissolving agents can be used to remove excess wax.
- For any ear problem, consult your vet.
- Dental cleaning
- Dental cleaning is done for cleaning of teeth, removal of plaque or tartar.
- It is required to prevent dental problems like bad smell, pyorrhoea and dental decay.
- Consult your vet for proper dental cleaning.
- Nail cutting
- Nail cutting is essential to facilitate proper walking since due to overgrown nails, the dog’s gait may become faulty and undue pressure may be applied on his legs.
- Long nails can entangle with any object that may cause injury. Sometimes the overgrown nails take round shape and get engorged in the skin, causing injury.
- Nail cutting is a very specialized procedure and should be done only by a pet practitioner.
- Only the dead part of the nail should be cut. Any injury to the live part of nail will lead to severe bleeding.
- Most of the dogs resist to nail cutting hence it is important to get them accustomed to this procedure since early age.
- Give your pooch a soft pad massage to improve circulation and cure cracked pads.
- Remove soiled hair around the soft pads as your dog may lick it, which can cause injury and infection.
A well-groomed dog is a smart, happy and healthy dog. So, what are you waiting for…pick up your dog’s grooming kit and transform your pooch into a beautiful companion. (Dr. Aradhana Pandey is a vet and owner of Doggy World, an exclusive set up for dogs catering to all needs, including specialized grooming. She can be contacted at 09811299059.)
Regular grooming can help avoid following health problems :
- Tick, lice and flea infestation : These problems can be timely identified and solved.
- Bacterial, fungal and non-specific dermatitis : Proper grooming leads to secretion of sebum that has an antimicrobial property. By regular grooming, the lesions are timely identified and treated.
- Fall of hair : Grooming removes the dead hair and vitalize the hair.
- Dull and coarse hair coat : Grooming will secrete the natural hair oil.
- Ear infections : Regular ear cleaning will remove excess wax that is a good medium for infectious agent growth. Besides, the oils used for aural hygiene have wax dissolving and antimicrobial property.
- Dental problems : Regular dental cleaning will remove the plaque.