Learn about effective grooming for health, happiness & more
Dr Yerramareddy Roopa
Dr Rajesh Kasrija
One can avoid problems like skin infections, ear infections, periodontal diseases and injuries caused due to overgrown nails with simple grooming practices like combing, bathing, face cleaning, nail trimming and teeth brushing.
Grooming is a natural instinct in animals to keep their body clean. As a responsible pet parent it is your duty to make sure you groom your pet properly. It is good not just for their skin and coat, but also for their overall wellbeing.
Combing is one of the most basic grooming activities. It not just protects the skin and hair from infections but also keeps coat healthy and shiny. Regular combing is important to spread natural body oils to fur and to remove loose hair.
It is a therapeutic way to connect with your pet. While combing your pet you can also check for any ticks or injuries.
Different types of coat need different brushes. Most frequently used are slicker brush, bristle brush and pin brush. Others are flea comb for fleas and hand gloves. Consult your vet to know which type of comb is best suited for your pet.
Most frequently used brushes and combs for dogs
Dog breed Brushes/ Combs for grooming
For long hair dogs/ Pin brush and long tooth comb
For short hair dogs/ Rubber brush and fine tooth comb or hand comb
For curly hair dogs/ Slicker brush and metal comb or medium toothed comb
How to comb your pet’s hair?
- Clean the area before the start of combing.
- Remove mats and knots either by clipping or by brushing properly with wide toothed comb after applying mat spray.
- Start using comb from head to rear, top to bottom and total body in the direction of hair. Care should be taken while combing because rough combing can cause skin rashes.
- Don’t pull the tangles. Be gentle and use slicker brush for tangles.
- For smooth and short hair dogs, start by brushing opposite to hair growth to remove loose hair and then in the direction of hair.
- For long hair breeds, brush the coat to remove mats and then go for combing. But brush in the direction of hair growth. In case of long coarse hair breeds like Shih Tzu, use any type of dog brush. Brushing and combing has to be done in the direction of hair growth.
- For curly hair breeds like Poodle, start by brushing with slicker brush and then comb with metal comb.
- Reward your dog to encourage positive behaviour.
- Start brushing and combing at 6 to 8 weeks of age so that they get used to it.
Bathing your pet is essential to keep their skin and coat healthy and clean. Some dogs like bathing, while others aren’t fond of it. The trick is to take things slow. Bathe them from a young age, and slowly you’ll see your pet will start liking it.
Here’s all that you’ll need for bath time with your pet –
- Lukewarm water
- Non slippery mats
- Cotton balls
- Towels or hair drier
- Dog shampoo
How to bathe your dog?
- Brush the coat thoroughly. It’ll remove tangles and it becomes easy to bathe him.
- To avoid water entering into the ears during bath, put cotton balls in his ears.
- Wet the coat completely, apply shampoo and gently massage to make lather.
- If it is medicated shampoo for any skin infection or for ectoparasites, check the label that how much time the shampoo has to be applied.
- Rinse off the shampoo completely.
- Don’t let your pet go out without drying.
- Have separate soaking towels for your pet. Start by wiping the face, then the body, and finally legs.
- Remove the cotton balls from the ears and clean the ears.
- A little reward for good behaviour is always welcome!
- Check the water temperature, it should be lukewarm.
- Avoid bathing your pet in the kitchen sink; it might transfer infections to humans.
- Place a mat in the bath tub to avoid slipping.
- Place cotton balls in the ears. Otherwise, it may lead to irritation and infection.
- In case your pet has skin infection, consult your vet for the right kind of shampoo.
- Use gloves if your pet has skin infection.
- Don’t use human shampoos for dogs. Their skin texture is different from humans and pH levels of soap/shampoo are also different. Human soap/shampoo can cause irritation or allergy.
- Prefer dog soaps that contain sulphur.
- Ask your vet about the frequency of bathing your pet. It depends on the weather conditions, breed, age, and various other factors.
- Dogs with long hair coat need less baths, because the oils that make the coat look lustrous may be lost due to frequent bathing. For them, daily combing is important.
- After bathing dry the coat immediately.
- Avoid using hair dryers if your pet is scared. It might cause stress.
While you can’t bathe your dog every single day, cleaning his face every day is a must. Drool, matted hair, and smelling ears is something neither your pet nor you would like. It not just makes your pet look untidy, but also makes him prone to infections. Since dogs sniff everything, their nose is susceptible to infections. Face cleaning takes more time than we think and needs good care and attention.How to clean your pet’s face?
- Arrange all the things like brush, cloth, cotton balls, soap or shampoo and any solutions if prescribed.
- First brush the face slowly to remove mats and loose hairs. Put cotton balls into ears.
- Use soft and clean cloth or sponge. Moisten the cloth with luke warm water but don’t fill them with full of water.
- Put gentle pressure to clean the dirt on the face in the direction of hair.
- Clean the area around the eyes extra cautiously with cloth or wet cotton balls. Approach the eyes slowly because sometimes dog moves suddenly. Don’t use shampoo or soap to clean the secretions near the eyes.
- Don’t use human soaps or shampoos. Clean water is good enough.
- For tear stains use specific solutions prescribed by your vet.
- Use ear cleansers for ear cleaning.
- Dry the face with clean soft cloth. Do not use dryers on face.
Like humans, dogs’ teeth also need to be cleaned to avoid any dental diseases and infections. Make sure you use dog toothpaste and toothbrush only for your pet. Start brushing his teeth slowly to make your pet feel comfortable. If you cannot clean the teeth at home, take him to the vet.
Nail trimming is not difficult as it may look. It can actually be finished in 5 minutes if your pet cooperates. If nails are not trimmed, it may cause difficulty in walking and injuries as well. A lot of pet parents are nervous about clipping nails at home because their pets are hyper and they might get hurt. Having specialized dog nail trimming tools will make things easier.
How to trim nails?
- Arrange the things for nail trimming i.e. nail trimmer set, antiseptic and styptic powder.
- Talk to your pet for some time and give him a toy/ chew bone to distract.
- Hold the legs properly and start trimming.
- While trimming do not cut the quick (pink colour area of nails) as it is painful for your pet.
- Give reward for every nail trimming. If the nails are long, you can trim them in multiple times instead of a single snap.
- Make sure to smoothen rough edges after cutting the nails.
- Check between paws for any injury, infection, or ticks.
- Do it very slowly and carefully.
- Start nail trimming from an early age to make your pet accustomed.
- Use sharp trimmers. Blunt edge trimmer may split the nail without cutting properly.
- Don’t cut the quick.
- If you cut the skin accidentally and bleeding starts, don’t panic. Just apply styptic powder so that blood coagulates.
- Trimming after bath is easy.
- If you cannot manage the pet at home while nail trimming, visiting the groomer/vet is the best option.
Having a separate dog grooming kit will be greatly helpful. Apply these easy and effective tips to keep your pets clean, healthy, and happy.
(Dr Yerramareddy Roopa and Dr Rajesh Kasrija are from the Department of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Extension Education, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), Ludhiana, Punjab)