Some dogs really just love dirt, don’t they? Spring is here and with it comes rain… and mud. If your pup likes to take mud baths, you might find yourself giving them more baths in the tub! Bathing and brushing are the basics of dog grooming, and here are some tips!
If you’re a new pet owner, you might think you have to bathe your dog every week. It’s actually not necessary to bathe them so often. In fact, once every few months is usually adequate unless your dog spends a lot of time outdoors or has skin problems.
- Brush your dog BEFORE you bathe them. This helps remove all dead hair, mats, and dirt.
- Put them in a tub or sink that’s been filled with about three to four inches of lukewarm water. Make sure it’s not hot!
- Use a spray hose, or (plastic) pitcher or cup to completely wet your pet. Don’t spray or pour water directly in their ears, eyes, or nose.
- Gently massage in shampoo, working from head to tail, and then rinse.
- Dry your pet thoroughly with a towel.
Note: If you have a dog with loose facial skin or wrinkles (Shar Peis, Pugs, etc), you’ll need to take special care. These dogs can accumulate dirt and bacteria in the folds which can lead to irritation and infection. Clean the folds with a damp cloth and always thoroughly dry them afterwards.
Eyes and Ears: It’s important to protect your dog’s eyes and ears while you bathe them. Dog shampoo, while not toxic to pets, can still cause major irritation. Avoid shampooing your pet’s head and just use a washcloth to clean their face. Waterlogged ears can cause irritation and infection so putting a large cotton ball in each ear can help keep water and soap out of their ear canals.
While you don’t need to bathe your dog all the time, regular brushing is important in helping keep your pet’s coat in good condition. Brushing or combing your dog’s coat will remove dirt, prevent tangles, spread the natural oil down the hair shafts (hello shine!), and generally help keep the skin clean and free of irritants. It’s also a perfect time to check for fleas and possible skin conditions.
In another post we talked about the difference in coat types and how the grooming methods change. Here are a few basics to get you started!
Smooth, Short Coats: These single-layer coats, like on a Chihuahua or Basset Hound, only needs brushing once a week. Use a rubber brush to loosen dead skin and dirt and follow with bristle brush to remove dead hair. You can use a chamois or microfiber to finish to remove traces of dust and dirt and give your pup a shiny coat.
Dense Fur: The problem with this type of coat is that the density can make it especially prone to matting (Retrievers). Brushing once a week is still fine, but you should use a slicker brush to remove tangles and then catch the dead hair with a bristle brush.
Long, Silky Coats: Yorkshire Terriers have beautiful coats, don’t they? These long, silky coats need daily brushing. Remove tangles with a slicker brush, then brush the coat with a bristle brush. If you have a long-haired dog with a coat like a Collie’s, you’ll also need to comb through the fur and trim the hair around the feet.
Wiry Coats: Some terriers, as well as Irish Wolfhounds, have wiry coats that are susceptible to tangling. A properly groomed wire coat will be rough and bristly. The best way to groom a wirehaired dog is by plucking out any unruly hairs, using your fingers or a stripping knife.
Most people understand that shedding is a normal part of having a dog. However, the
amount and frequency of hair shed depends on their health, breed type, and season. Some dogs develop thick coats in the winter and then shed them in the spring. If your dog spends the majority of its time inside, then this cycle will be reduced. You can minimize the amount of shedding by regular brushing!
There are other factors to dog grooming, like trimming nails (often best left to professionals), these are just the basics! Many people opt to take their dogs to professional groomers, especially with higher maintenance breeds. Unfortunately there are no licensing requirements for dog groomers, so make sure you go to one that is reputable!