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Grooming your dog

Grooming your dog accomplishes much more than just making your pet's coat look nice and shiny. It will provide you with the opportunity to spend some "quality time" with your dog, combing, brushing, bathing and generally bonding with him.

Your questions answered

Why should I groom my dog?

Regular grooming is a pleasant experience for both you and your dog and will help you to bond more closely. Coat care is essential to your dog's health and well being. Regular combing and brushing with palm pads will keep the coat clean and healthy. It will stimulate the skin, and allow the natural oils to circulate to the coat.

You will also be able to check your dog closely for any problems while grooming. Move the hair aside and examine the skin closely for signs of fleas, ticks or skin irritations. Check areas for hair loss, inflammation, unusual tenderness or lumps under the skin. Constant scratching in a particular area may also be an indication of a problem. If you find anything unusual make sure you check with your vet whether or not this is significant.

How do I get my dog used to being brushed?

It is important to start the grooming experience from as young an age as possible. Like children, puppies have short attention spans. Select a time when the puppy is less energetic. Begin with short grooming sessions around five minutes. Let your dog sniff the brush and comb before you begin grooming, and then talk to your pet in a reassuring tone while grooming. Begin brushing at the head, working toward the tail and down the legs. Always brush in the direction of hair growth. Pay particular attention to the legs and flanks, and areas that easily mat.

Be sure to check his ears, paws, teeth, and underside during the grooming procedure. This will, in time, make him accustomed to being handled and examined. Eventually, he will be quite comfortable being groomed, and will look forward to these sessions with you.

Learn where your dog likes to be combed and brushed and where he doesn't. All dogs have sensitive areas that need to be groomed a little more gently and carefully than others. If the grooming procedure is made comfortable for your dog, he will begin to look forward to regular grooming sessions. When grooming you will also become familiar with areas where your dog enjoys being groomed. This is helpful if you need to calm your dog during stressful times such as veterinary visits.

How often should I groom my dog?

It is important to establish and adhere to a regular schedule of grooming sessions. A good time to do this is after the dog has been walked, while he is relieved and calm. Select a time when you will not be interrupted and have ample time to do a proper grooming. Longhaired dogs should be groomed daily, while shorthaired breeds may require grooming only twice a week. You will soon see how often your dog requires grooming.

Do I need to bath my dog?

Brushing is one of the best ways to take care of your dog's skin and coat and in many cases is more important than bathing. However, there are often times when bathing is necessary. If you are going to wash your dog ensure you use a shampoo formulated for dogs. Human shampoos are different from pet shampoos and often use harsher detergents than pet shampoos. You can do more damage than good if you use a human shampoo on pets.

Trying to decide when and how to bathe your dog is often difficult. This is because bathing frequency depends on a number of factors: the particular breed of dog, how much time is spent outdoors, the dog's age, and any existing medical conditions, to name a few.

How and when you bathe your dog depends on the size of your pet and will change throughout the year and throughout the dog's life. Here are some reasons that your dog may need a bath:

Your dog has rolled in something and smells!
Pretty obvious right? If your dog has a habit of seeking out something smelly and rolling in it, then they will need a bath right away. Use a good strong shampoo like and don't be afraid to wash your dog twice.

Your dog has a 'doggy' smell.
An odour on the coat can often be traced to a problem with the ears, mouth, feet, or anal glands. An odour coming from the skin is often a sign of disease, such as a yeast infection. Any dog with more than a "doggy" smell should be checked by a vet.

Your dog has dandruff.
Dandruff may be caused by dry, irritated, or oily skin, but all of these conditions can be helped by the appropriate shampoo and a good bathing. Check with your vet or groomer to determine the cause of your dog's skin condition and they will help you select the right shampoo.

Your dog has an itchy skin.
Bathing a dog with skin disesase can be soothing and help reduce itching. In most cases, a soothing oatmeal shampoo, or a gentle hypo-allergenic or hydrocortisone-based shampoo should be used. Always check with your vet first to be sure you are using the right sort of shampoo.

Your dog has fleas, mites, or lice.
Shampooing is still a good way to get rid of parasites on the skin. Make sure to work with your vet and get the appropriate diagnosis and corresponding treatment. Remember to also use effective preventative flea treatment - your vet will be able to advise you on a suitable programme for your pet.

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