Whether fuzzy or sleek, your dog’s coat requires special care in order to stay in the best condition possible. If you find yourself lacking the time, money, or ability to take your dog to the groomer, knowing how to care for their coat at home is important.
Grooming at home can be a fun experience for both you and your dog, but many people underestimate just how essential it is that they are regularly bathing, brushing, and grooming their pooch.
What Does Your Dog Need?
The first step to proper at-home grooming is to consider what your dog actually needs. A terrier isn’t going to need a shave and a poodle isn’t going to need coat sheen. Determining what your dog needs can be quite simple, especially if you know their breed. A quick look online will tell you what is considered essential for the health of their quote.
During the summer, for example, a Saint Bernard or other long-haired breed may need a buzz to keep them cool. Meanwhile, a curly-haired breed is going to need special grooming to ensure their coat doesn’t tangle, and they might also need a trim to help keep them cleaner and cooler for longer. A short-haired breed won’t need much in the way of razors, but they’ll still need some moisturizer applied to keep their skin and coat in good shape.
Determine what your dog needs based on their breed and coat, then come up with the right routine that will incorporate those things.
Your Grooming Checklist
Once you have the care plan figured out for your dog’s specific coat type, you also need to put these essential tasks down onto your grooming checklist. These are things all dogs need to have done at regular intervals:
Ear cleaning. Cleaning your dog’s ears will help prevent smelly (and painful) infections from becoming an issue. Ear cleaning won’t be necessary during every session, but you should check their ears regularly for dirt, debris, and signs of infection to keep them in their best shape.
Nail trimming. Overgrown claws will go “tip tap” when your dog walks across a wood floor. This means your dog’s nails are far too long and they need to be trimmed down. Get some sharp dog nail trimmers to do it. When you’re done, their nails should not touch the floor when they walk.
Dental health. You probably won’t be able to brush your dog’s teeth every night, but it is still a good idea to keep a close eye on their dental health. Regularly lift their lips to check for healthy gums and any teeth that may be giving them issues. A doggy-approved tooth brushing once a month is essential to helping them fight plaque and gingivitis.
Seasonal care. During the summer, a short-haired dog especially is going to start turning pink on their belly and nose if allowed too much time out in the sun. Doggy sunscreen is in order for their snout and other exposed areas of skin. During the winter, moisturizing balm may be necessary for your dog’s nose and paw pads.
Health check. Just like a certified groomer, when you have finished with your grooming routine, it’s important you do a quick once-over to make sure your dog looks to be in good health. Are they gaining weight? Losing some? Do they have any bumps or wounds that need to be addressed? Your weekly grooming session is a good chance to screen your dog and make sure they’re in good health between vet visits.
Once you have written up your grooming checklist, the next step is to figure out how often your dog needs to be groomed. Depending on how much time they spend outdoors, and how tolerant you are of dirt and debris, some dog owners bathe and groom once per week. At minimum, you should groom your dog once a month and do everything on your checklist.
One thing that stops many people from grooming their dog at home is that some dogs just don’t like to sit still. If you find that your dog doesn’t like baths or doesn’t like being brushed, work with them so that you can get to the point where you can groom them yourself.
You may see it as a hassle, but grooming is very important to your dog’s health and happiness. Not only will you be keeping their coat clean and beautiful, you will be checking for important things too that will have a big impact on their comfort and health.
Most dogs won’t enjoy having their paws held to be trimmed or their lips lifted so their teeth can be inspected, but these are things you’ll simply have to get your dog used to with time. Be patient, have a friend step in to hold them for you, and be sure that lots of treats and “Good dog!” compliments are involved in the process.
If you make grooming an enjoyable experience, it’ll just be a matter of time before your dog begins looking forward to the process.
If you have a long-haired dog or one that gets particularly dirty, grooming will be required more often in order to keep their coat in good health. Look up your dog’s breed so you can get a better idea of how often their coat needs to be groomed.
Generally, your health and dental check along with an ear cleaning and nail trim can be done 1-2 times per month, but their coat type is going to determine how often you need to pull out the hose.
Depending on the season, environment, and your dog’s breed, you might also need to give them supplements to support a healthy coat and, on occasion, topical ointments for any skin or coat conditions they may be experiencing. This will soon become a normal part of their grooming routine as you get in the habit of thoroughly checking them each time you work with them.