Guidelines to groom your puppy


Pallavi Bhattacharya
bringing home an adorable puppy is an experience of joy. And you may surely want to make your young furry buddy spic and span at the earliest. But grooming your puppy may be a bit challenging task. Here are some guidelines on grooming your puppy.–by Pallavi Bhattacharya
Judith Paul, head groomer at Tailwaggers Pet Salon in Mumbai, says puppies need to be fully vaccinated before they get bathed. “After all, they have to be strong enough to withstand the process of bath in a tub. The puppy should be around three months of age when he gets his first bath,” she adds.
Dr D G Dighe, a vet based in Maharashtra, is of the opinion, “After the puppy is given two vaccinations, he can be given a bath in lukewarm water. The puppy is likely to be around three months of age at that time.” Grooming is undoubtedly important for puppies. Elaborating on the need for grooming a pup, Dr Dighe explains, “Grooming takes care of the puppy’s skin and coat. It increases blood circulation, improves the coat colour and its shine. It also helps in detangling the puppy’s fur and removes ticks and fleas.” Dr Dighe cautions that puppy shouldn’t be bathed daily, but once a month. What if the puppy gets very dirty before the vaccinations are completed? Judith replies, “In such a scenario, a sponge bath is advisable only when the puppy attains the age of one and a half month. You just need to simply wipe the dog and dry him.” Judith suggests another precaution to be taken while bathing a puppy. She says, “The dog should be bathed in a closed area, not in the open.” When you bathe a reluctant human child, you try to make it fun for him. One of the ways to make bath time jovial is to introduce toys, whether your child is human or a puppy. Judith elaborates, “Bath time shouldn’t be like a mundane chore. You need to make it into a game. Entice the pup to the bath tub with squeaky toys and keep him entertained throughout the session.”
Popularity of herbal dog shampoos is rising. Both Dr Dighe and Judith suggest to go for herbal dog shampoos, instead of chemical shampoos, to bathe your puppy. Dr Dighe explains, “The puppy’s skin contains plenty of micro flora, which is required to maintain the good health of the skin. Frequent shampooing, especially with chemical shampoos, may lead to skin problems. Regular use of chemical shampoos strip the puppy’s skin of micro flora, which in turn makes it susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. Regarding the application of shampoo on the puppy, Judith says, “Opt for a very gentle and mild shampoo. Dilute the herbal shampoo with water. After all the puppy’s skin is very sensitive. Lather up and with your finger tips, gently massage the shampoo in. Never use shampoo on the pet’s face. Wash off the shampoo properly, else skin infections may be likely.” Like in adult dogs, pouring water should only be used neck down in the puppy too. In this, Judith says, “If the bath isn’t below the neck, the puppy will get frightened. Water should never be poured on the face, else it may enter the eyes and ears of the puppy.”
A puppy needs to be dried properly. The natural instinct of the puppy may be to shake off the droplets of water from his fur after the bath. Give him the freedom to do so. Put an absorbent bath towel meant for the puppy over his back. Let the towel soak the water, rub it gently over his coat. For a puppy, a big towel is not needed. Nevertheless if the towel you are using still gets wet, replace it with a dry one. Be extra gentle while wiping the puppy’s neck, chest, paws and ears with the towel.
Explaining the proper way to dry a puppy with a hair dryer, Judith says, “Don’t use a hair dryer in full force. You may get a tinier hair dryer for a puppy.” She further suggests to play with the puppy in between the grooming sessions.
After a bath, we always brush our hair. Similarly, dogs of all ages, including puppies, need to be brushed after a bath. For human babies, you use a baby brush. For a puppy, a tinier brush may be used. Judith says, “Different kinds of brushes are found for different dog breeds. You may use a soft brush for a puppy. There is a two-sided brush which may be used as a comb on one side and as a brush on the other.”
Teeth cleaning
You cannot use a brush meant for adult humans to brush a puppy’s teeth, instead use a toothbrush made specially for puppies, generally found at pet shops. Finger toothbrushes for dogs suit puppies as well. You must not use a toothpaste for human for puppies. Not only will they abhor the taste but human toothpaste may cause stomach upset and induce vomiting. Squeeze a pea size amount of toothpaste onto the brush. Place the puppy on your lap. With one hand, tenderly pull back your puppy’s upper lip at the front of his muzzle. With the other hand, gently brush his teeth.
Nail cutting
Judith suggests that pet parents generally don’t attempt nail cutting of puppies at home. This is because they may not have the skill to do so efficiently. If nail cutting isn’t done properly, the consequence may be disastrous. Judith elaborates, “You may rupture a blood vessel if you try to snip nails without proper experience. You need to take your puppy to a vet or a pet groomer for nail cutting.”
Enjoyable grooming sessions strengthen your bond with the puppy. If done bathing in a correct way, it can transform a puppy who is water phobic into someone always looking forward to get soaked in a tub, followed by a comfy drying session.