Picture perfect dog is not a dream…regular grooming can make your pooch smart, good-looking and pleasure to be around. Here are the needs and essentials of regular grooming.
All breeds of dog needs regular grooming. It makes the coat clean, shining and sweet smelling. Grooming stimulates the flow of oil in the skin. It also stimulates the sebaceous gland and blood circulation, due to which dog feels warm and comfortable. Start the grooming at early age. As dog becomes accustomed to grooming, he enjoys it and loves this daily attention.
Regular grooming removes hidden dirt, dust and dead hair, and apart from this, it provides opportunity to look for fleas, lice and other ectoparasites which are attached to the dog’s skin
Breed-specific grooming needs…
Grooming should be done with dog brush or metal comb or hand glove. Generally use double-sided brush having one side hard and one side soft nylon tufts.
Long-coated dogs such as Lhasa Apso, English Sheep Dog and Afghan Hound need more frequent grooming from puppy age. Initially use a little stiff bristled brush, but after few months, you can start using a wide toothed comb. If there is mats and tangles in the coat, the comb will cause severe pulling and discomfort to dog. If matting does occurs, it may just be possible to tease the hairs apart. In bad cases, the hair will have to be cut off and allowed to regrow.
While grooming, ears should be examined every time. Ear should be cleaned regularly. Excess hair inside the ear should be clipped every month. If your dog is constantly scratching his ear or shaking his head or if there’s any foul smelling discharge, pus or swelling in the ear, consult your vet immediately. Never forcefully clean the ear as it may rupture the ear drum. Consult your vet or groomer.
Eyes are windows to health
The eyes of healthy dogs are clean and bright. Daily examination of eyes is necessary. If there is discharge or mucus from the eyes, it should be gently cleaned with cotton wool soaked in water. If the eyes are sore and inflamed or if there is profuse watery discharge, weeping or heavy lidded eyes, it may show signs of infection. Consult the vet immediately.
Know the nose
The nose of healthy dog is moist, clean and free of mucus. Dry nose is a sign of fever. If there is watery discharge or mucopurulant discharge from nose, it indicates infection of respiratory tract or viral infection.
To avoid any dental problem, it is advisable to clean the dog’s teeth periodically. A puppy is born without teeth but by three to eight weeks, he will have temporary 28 teeth (milk teeth). At the age of 4 to 6 months, the milk teeth will be replaced by a permanent set of 42 teeth. Puppies should be handled/trained to become accustomed to have their mouth open for cleaning. Use dog tooth paste and tooth brush to brush his teeth.
The food debris accumulates between the teeth and in between tooth and gum margin. It causes discolouration of teeth and decay of tooth develops. The debris hardens and bacterial infection occurs, causing inflamed and red gums. The bacteria enter the root of the tooth, causing painful abscess and loosening of the tooth. First symptoms include bad breath, dribbling of saliva and difficulty in eating. First the damaged teeth should be removed.
Tartar deposits may be scrapped by dental scaler with the help of veterinarian. Anaesthesia is must.
In some dogs, the carnassial teeth cause a problem. This tooth is situated on the either side of the upper jaw having triple roots. Infection may cause swelling in the cheek, beneath the eyes. If the tooth is not removed, it will be inflamed.
For prevention of tartar, give your pooch chewing bones or dog chew, which not only cleans the teeth, but also makes the jaw powerful.
Trim the nails of dogs every two months. If not cut, the nails may grow long and make walking uncomfortable and sometimes nails of dewclaws cause abscess. The nails of forelimb (front legs) must be cut more frequently than the hind legs. Don’t forget to cut the dew claws (fifth nails). Cut only the white portion of nail. You can also take the help of your vet or a groomer.
Bathing of dog is required to keep the skin and coat clean. Frequency of bathing should be determined on the basis of breed and his exposure to the outer environment and season. Too frequent bathing should be avoided because it removes the beneficial oil from dog’s coat, leading to dull coat. Also, do not bath the pups below three months of age.
Before bathing, both the ears of dog must be plugged with absorbent cotton. Only use dog shampoo. If the dog is infested with ectoparasites, use dog tick shampoo or pH balance shampoo. Consult your vet.
The temperature of bathing water should be according to the environmental temperature. Apply the shampoo to the wet dog coat, lather it properly so that it penetrates into the skin where the real dust and ectoparasite is. Keep it for few minutes and then thoroughly rinse with ample clean water and wipe dry with clean towel. Once the hair is dry, comb it with a brush. Don’t allow your dog to roll on the ground after bathing.
Now, your pooch is ready to be a showstopper all the time!
(Dr Hemant Jain, MVSc (Surgery), FISAP, is a veterinary surgeon. He is dog, cat & bird practitioner based in Nagpur).