If you’re the sort of person who prefers to drop off your dog at the local groomer, this article is not for you. The desire to hand off that dirty task is completely understandable, after all—what’s worse than a muddy dog shaking off water before you’re done rinsing? However, if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, get ready to dig in. We’re proud to present a crash course for cleaning and grooming your pup from head to toe.
Ears, Face, and Teeth
Cleaning your pup’s ears might not be their favorite thing, but it’s something that needs to be done—after all, as humans we clean our own ears regularly, and it’s no different for dogs! To do so, you can use a soft cloth or paper towel, and ear cleaner that you can get from a local pet store or your vet. Be extra careful when you do this, as (like with Q-Tips) pushing too hard can cause ear damage and be painful for your dog. Do this every week or two, and your dog will quickly get used to it.
If your dog has a flatter face or rolls of skin (bulldogs, pugs, Shar Peis, and Boston terriers, we’re looking at you), you’re going to need to clean out those rolls lest they become infected. Believe us—you (and your dog) do not want that! Take a damp paper towel or soft cloth and clean between the folds, then follow that with a dry cloth so that no moisture is trapped.
As for their teeth, use a soft rubber toothbrush that slips on over your finger, or a soft-bristled brush—both of these are available at pet stores. Use a dog-friendly toothpaste, too. This should be done, ideally, every day, but let’s face it: Most dogs don’t love getting their teeth brushed. Aim for once a week, and ramp up your efforts once your dog is used to the process.
Body and Coat
Be sure to brush your dog at least once a week, preferably more. For excessive shedders, use an undercoat-removing brush like a Furminator to lighten their load a bit, so to speak. For dogs prone to matting, brushing is extremely important. Remember that groomers will charge extra for de-matting services, so it’s essential to keep up with it.
Most dogs won’t get too dirty on their own unless they like to roll around in the yard a lot, but it’s important to give them all a good washing every now and then to keep them optimally clean. Use a dog-friendly shampoo, since many human shampoos can be too harsh, and be sure to monitor their skin for any irritation—if they seem to be itchy after their bath, consider a gentler shampoo, for instance.
Feet and Nails
Finally, you’ve reached your pooch’s tiny feet and toes. Their footpads should be moisturized once in a while, as they can get very dry and rough from walking around outside. This is especially important in colder climates or during winter, when skin can dry out and crack, which is very painful.
Trim your dog’s toenails every couple of weeks, using a clipper you can buy at any local pet store. Be careful not to cut the quick, which can cause bleeding. Bbe sure to keep Styptic powder on hand, just in case you do clip it on accident, as this powder stops the bleeding fast. If your dog will not let you clip his or her nails, it’s essential to bring them to a groomer or vet to have it done. Groomers have special harnesses that help immobilize a wiggly dog, and the training required to do a good, safe job. Ignoring their nails is not an option—their claws can grow under and become damaging and painful for the dog.
What are your tips and tricks for dog grooming at home? Let us know in the comments!