Tips for Caring for Your Dog Between Professional Groomings
One of the most important things you can do for your dog between groomings is to keep up on his/her coat condition at home. It is still very important to have your dog professionally groomed every 4-6 weeks. Professional grooming is MUCH more than just a haircut. It is a necessary procedure to keep your dog or cat healthy. If not clean, brushed, and matt-free they can develop skin sores or infections. Dirty ears can lead to infection, especially on breeds with hanging ears or when there is hair in the ear canal. Most small dog breeds need to have their anal glands expressed. If they are not, they can become impacted and rupture. Grooming is also a chance to observe the animal for any sores, lumps, nodules, cuts, infections, bald spots, tooth and mouth problems, other abnormalities or health problems, and parasites. I have caught MANY problems that needed medical attention that would have otherwise went unnoticed by the owner.
Always brush/comb your dog before bathing - Mats enlarge and become unmanageable when wet. If a mat goes undetected or coat care is neglected, skin and cause a sore or infection. Severe matting can also pull the skin from the muscle! Short-haired dogs will probably only need to be gone over with a rubber curry brush or glove, while medium- to long-coated dogs may require special tools like a slicker, coarse and fine combined metal comb, or an undercoat rake. Whatever you use, it must effectively remove loose hair and distribute oils from the skin throughout the coat. When combing make sure that you can get the fine teeth of the comb completely to the skin. If you can not easily comb through the hair down to the skin, then you are not finished combing. Be sure to give plenty of praise and/or treats to make the experience as pleasant for your dog as possible.
Bathing - Start with the head and make sure to use a tearless shampoo. You want to wash the dog's entire head including muzzle. You may use whatever shampoo you prefer on the rest of the body and be sure to scrub all the way to the skin. When rinsing, make sure to get all of the soap out until the fur feels squeaky clean. Soap residue can cause skin irritation. Make sure that you use shampoo specifically for dogs because they have a different skin ph level than humans. You also do not want to bathe your dog more than once every two weeks as it will dry out their skin very badly. A suction cup device is available at pet stores and can help with keeping your dog in the tub. Make sure that your dog is completely dry after a few hours. You may need to use a hairdryer. If moisture is left in the coat too long it can cause bacteria to grow on the skin. If you use a human hairdryer make sure it is on the cool setting because it can burn your dog's skin.
Eye care - Some breeds require more maintenance in this area than others. While it may be a simple matter of pulling eye boogers away from a potentially irritating spot in the corner of the eye, long-haired or white-haired dogs may require special attention to make sure that all gunk is truly out of the coat. A flea comb during bathing works very well for this. There are products made specially for removing "tear stains" from a white coat available in many pet supply stores or catalogs. A healthy eye should be clear and should not show any signs of irritation or unusual discharge.
Ears - A clean ear may contain some wax and shouldn't have any particular smell to it. To clean your dog's ears, apply some ear cleaning solution to a cotton ball (the flat round ones seem to work best) and simply wipe dirt and wax away from the inner ear. Don't rub vigorously as to cause sores, and don't travel too far into the ear; both could cause damage. If your dog has hair in the ear canal it must be plucked. If not dirt, moisture, and debris can be trapped and cause infection. When you're done wiping out the ear with a damp cotton ball or cloth, gently dry it out with a dry one. If your dog's ear looks swollen, red, irritated, dark or blackened, shows signs of discharge or sores, or smells really bad, call your veterinarian. This is not normal and could be a sign of infection or disease.
Teeth - Your dog's breath should not smell foul. If it is very bad they most likely need veterinarian care. According to veterinarians, about 80% of dogs have periodontal disease. If plaque is continually digested on a larger than normal scale, it can cause kidney or liver troubles, the gums can receed, and teeth can actually rot out of the mouth. Try to brush your dog's teeth at least 2 to 3 times a week, or use an antimicrobial spray if you don't have time or your dog is particularly resistant to the idea. Use only those products made specifically for dogs so that you don't unintentionally poison your dog. Human toothpaste is poisonous. If your dog already has a considerable buildup of tartar and plaque, veterinary cleaning may be needed. Otherwise, brushing or spraying about 3 times weekly supplemented with the occasional frozen raw bone (acquired at any butcher or deli) should be enough for maintenance.
Nails - If left uncared for, nails can grow to enormous lengths, twisting the toe and causing a pained, irregular gait that can lead to skeletal damage, sometimes even curling into the pads of the foot. To keep your dog's nails short, clip them regularly. Depending on the dog, you may need to do it as often as once a week or as infrequently as once a month.
Anal Glands - Dogs have anal glands at the base of their tails. In most small dog breeds they need to be expressed while being bathed because this is an extremely foul smelling substance. If the glands are not expressed they can become impacted and rupture.
All of these procedures can be performed here at the salon so if you are uncomfortable with any of them please seek professional help. It is better to be safe than sorry as some of the procedures can be dangerous when performed by someone inexperienced.
Pampered Pup Salon - Mandy Malin 937-378-6900